Just a quick reminder that these workshops are open to everyone; we want to encourage as many people as possible to come along, and please help spread the word. We’ve created a safe space to allow conversations in small break-out ‘living’ rooms for you to enjoy the experience. The last of the series will be held next week on Wednesday 3 March on the theme of ‘Green and Public Space’. Sign-up now here: Dynamically Different Dumfries Events | Eventbrite
Key visioning aspirations around the theme of ‘Homes and Community’ included:
Flexible and accessible community space
A diverse year-round programme of activities which embraces the cultural appeal of the town
A shared town centre for all inhabitants of Dumfries and beyond
A high-quality, affordable range of housing
Educational opportunities and facilities
Participants were keen to fully embrace opportunities in a post-pandemic Dumfries and to capitalise on its strong welcoming community spirit – to initiate ‘Homes for Unique Communities’ – creating a dynamic ‘Dumfries’ solution to the housing shortage. Overall, the vision statement should capitalise on Dumfries’ quality of place, diverse community, and heritage.
One of the key messages was to ‘Develop a Modern Life in a Historic Town!’
Bright Project Ideas
There was a lot of discussion on the re-purposing of vacant run-down buildings in the town centre and the need to improve building upkeep and maintenance. Suggestions around co-housing, community-led housing, inter-generational housing, specialist housing, and student housing emerged, alongside the re-purposing of iconic accessible buildings such as the Debenhams building. There was agreement that attracting families and young people into these buildings was a priority not only for housing but for a wide mix of uses, including a climbing wall, cinema, bowling alley etc. – multiple uses to create a community life for those wishing to live in the town centre. Stimulating demand and developing the evening economy was highlighted as a particularly important priority to create more of a ‘buzz’ in the town. Links to the Crichton were also welcomed to initiate the conversion of empty buildings into student accommodation and entertainment/leisure facilities for young people, particularly around English Street and Shakespeare Street.
It was felt that a positive approach should be taken towards these vacant and derelict buildings, perhaps engaging local people in an award for ‘best kept building’ to help encourage behavioural change and civic pride. The Big Burns Supper came forward as a partner to help deliver this. It was felt that more could be done to positively bring out certain elements of the town – including the historic closes, and to make more of the town’s Conservation Area status to improve the appearance of its historic buildings.
The idea to relocate the Gracefield Arts Centre to the town centre was welcomed, to make it more accessible. The Loreburn Centre is seen as an opportunity for a town based tourist attraction as well.
Focusing on housing and accommodation, participants felt there needed to be an improved range and type of housing stock, better insulated, more accessible for people with disabilities, and future proofed/energy efficient to meet net zero climate neutral targets. More should be made of the Town Centre Living Fund to help make this happen.
The lack of hostels in the town centre was seen a missed opportunity to help attract more people to visit the area.
There was a strong desire to make more of Rosefield Mills for as a housing led mixed-used development with flats.
The approach to delivery was discussed, with the opportunity for a leadership organisation to push forward projects for the town centre. Barriers in the planning process were highlighted, with potential opportunities, through the new Planning Act, to consider introducing Simplified Planning Zones and Masterplan Consent Areas in Dumfries Town Centre to help streamline the planning process. It was felt that more needs to be done, through the planning system, to allow more change of use from retail to housing (or leisure) in the town centre and to help ‘green’ it. Opportunities for gardens/parking spaces with electric charging points in Irish Street were also mentioned.
Participants would like to bring more color into the town centre area ( e.g to the closes, Brewery Street and also town wide) and improve the offer of facilities such as public toilets. Generally, it was felt that Dumfries could capitalise more on its assets, with broader marketing of the town from the central belt, and internally, via the Love Dumfries website, and others, to advertise activities, events and facilities (including restaurants). Activities need to happen on a bigger scale to truly make Dumfries Town Centre a destination.
P6 Pupils from Loreburn Primary School gave us their comments on the theme ahead of the workshop. They agreed with many of the comments above and highlighted, in particular, the need for:
Accessible housing /flats
More accommodation with views of the river and historic town
Initial thoughts on partners to be involved in the delivery of these actions ranged from Dumfries Historic Buildings Trust (Rosefield Mills), Big Burns Supper Festival, Midsteeple Quarter, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Historic Environment Scotland, DPAG and the wider community.
Workshop summary replays now online
If you missed yesterday’s workshop on Homes and Community the summary discussion is now available to view (about 35 minutes). You can find it online via the DPAG Facebook page:
Remember to sign up for the remaining workshops next week:
Dynamically Different Dumfries Town Centre Vision and Action Plan is about gathering your views and ideas for the future of the town. The final workshop on ‘Green and Public Space’ is next week – Wednesday 3 March. Choose a 4-6pm or 7-9pm slot here: Dynamically Different Dumfries Events | Eventbrite
Places are limited so please sign up now. See you there to help create a more Dynamically Different Dumfries together. It’s your town centre – make your voice heard!
If you can’t take part in these online workshops as there are also other opportunities to get involved including:
– Visiting the Smithy on the High Street to see children’s posters.
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Look out for updates on the ‘Dynamic’ section of the LoveDumfries website.