South Scotland

Dumfries town revival group in auction bid race

Town centre shop
Image caption The properties at the centre of plans to revive Dumfries town centre are going up for auction

A group aiming to revive a Scottish town centre has said it would be a "kick in the teeth" if it is outbid at auction for properties it hoped to buy.

The Stove artists network has been in negotiations to purchase the site on Dumfries High Street for over a year.

However, the buildings have now been put up for auction instead and will be sold on Tuesday.

The company selling the site said it had been trying to lease the properties for a number of years.

The Stove group, with backing from the Scottish Land Fund, has been in talks with owners Columbia Threadneedle Investments to buy the site as part of a wider Midsteeple Quarter project.

Image caption The buildings are part of wider plans to regenerate the Midsteeple Quarter

It had hoped to complete a deal on the properties at 113-119 High Street later this year.

Instead, it has now started a fundraising campaign ahead of the auction this week.

Matt Baker, of The Stove, said: "We're going to attempt to bid but the message that we will be taking to London is we are very angry at the way that our town has been left and been treated by these institutional investors.

"Over the last 30 or 40 years they have been trading our High Street amongst themselves at an inflated rate that meant that no local property people could get involved."

He said nothing had been put back into the buildings which were in a "dreadful state of repair".

'Clear up mess'

"This pension fund is basically saying to Dumfries - we have had what we want from you we are now off and we are leaving you to clear up the mess," he said.

Mr Baker said the best outcome would be for the company to hand over the buildings for a nominal sum rather than sell it to another developer who might wait another 10 years for Dumfries to "turn around".

"That would be another kick in the teeth for our town and we can't let that happen," he said.

Columbia Threadneedle Investments has said it has tried to lease the Dumfries property for a number of years.

However, with the large number of competing vacant properties on the High Street and the absence of retailer demand, this had proved unsuccessful.

The company said it hoped the auction would result in a sale to a local investor or owner-occupier.

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