News from our last and fourth workshops on Green and Public Space and what comes next.
Green and Public Space – Wednesday 3 March 2021
We completed the last in our series of digital workshops yesterday, this time focusing on the theme of ‘Green and Public Space’, and to a sell-out audience at our first workshop of the day. We welcomed a wide mix of local people, including Glasgow University students from The Crichton Campus. Loreburn Primary School P6 pupils, once again, provided us with inspiration for our workshop discussions, this time focusing on ‘Greening Dumfries’ using ecological examples from around the world (see these on Facebook over the next few days). Thank you to everyone who attended and for all your great ideas.
Participants recognised that a vision for the town’s green and public spaces must directly relate to climate change, and the need for the town to both adapt to and be proactive in helping meet climate emergency net zero targets. The vision must also link to nature and wildlife – and emphasise the need to bring the countryside into the town, not only to create a pleasant environment but to bring mental and physical health benefits for all users of the town centre.
Words/ideas to include in a future themed vision included:
Connected/welcoming/beautiful green and public spaces
Accessible/legible routes and signage to guide people to public spaces
Dynamic festival/event/performance space
Outdoor recreational activity space
Focus on the ‘closes’ as linked public spaces
Bright Project Ideas
Overall, it was felt that green and public spaces in Dumfries Town Centre are an undervalued, underutilised asset. There is a need to bring a sense of purpose to these spaces and create an experience – a network of spaces to help increase both footfall and the appearance of the town centre. There is also a recognised opportunity for more greenery in paved and pedestrianised areas of the town centre and that pressure should be put on absentee landlords to do more to improve the appearance of the town. Friars Vennel was noted as an ideal place for shop owners to be encouraged to display flowers.
A lot of discussions suggested improvements around the River Nith area, including:
Developing educational activities and events (eg a calendar of events)
Designing a circular route, integrating views from the bridges
Enhancing lighting in an ecological way
Creating more connections to the High Street and making better use of the river and whitesands area for multi-functional events
Creating spaces to ‘chill’ by the river
Recreational activity on the river eg wild swimming, kayaking etc.
Creating information boards to highlight the history of the river
Creating a public space between Rosefield Mills and the river
It is recognised that Dock Park is well used by all generations for entertainment and that greater use could be made of the bandstand. There is also an opportunity to introduce deck chairs and umbrellas in the park, together with ice cream and coffee vendors.
Holm Park and Castle Dykes Park are areas that could be further developed/re-purposed to provide much better experiences for outdoor activities and sporting events eg running tracks/outdoor gyms. Holm Park, in particular, is seen as a large area of wasted green space with great potential. There is also a recognised need accross Dumfries Town Centre for more interactive play-led intervention.
Many would like to see a northern green corridor connecting Castle Dykes, Green Sands and White Sands to Dock park and beyond, using the bridges to allow people to explore both sides of the river. Green spaces could also have different specialisms (packaging) such as entertainment, play, ecological, food growing etc. There is an opportunity to use greenspace to facilitate wayfinding around town. The potential for themed art/historic trails is also recognised to both provide information and link up historic spaces and places eg a Burns walk.
Local people would like more trees and green areas in the town centre. Ideas ranged from planting ‘Tiny Dense Forests (https://www.theguardian.com/en… gardens, adopting/sponsoring plants and trees, and urban ‘gorilla’ gardening. There is a need for more trees to screen the sewage works at Kingholm Quay.
Many would like to see a permanent performance space in the town centre and other recreational spaces such as a pump tracks and a small skate-park. Engaging young people in the design of these facilities is seen as critical. Overall, it is felt that the town centre needs to be livelier, with activities and entertainment spaces both day and night. Street lighting, and avenue tree planting, in Dock Park is seen as good practice. Cycle path connections in Mill Green are also liked and used, and Green Sands is seen as an attractive space.
There was discussion around a multi-stakeholders-led approach – a ‘how to use the green and public spaces agreement’, and the creation of a local green-space strategy could be developed. It is recognised that an educational programme is needed to emphasise the benefits of a greener town centre and how to grow green spaces.
Participants discussed ways to improve the built environment and the visual appearance of the town through the introduction of more colour, sustainable building materials, green roofs, public art, and improving vast areas of car parking with green features and activity.
There was consensus on the opportunity to involve a large range of partners in delivery such as town gardeners/groups, Incredible Edible, The People’s Project, the Stove, Castle Dykes neighbourhood, local schools, students, tenant and resident associations, community councils, property owners/landlords, outdoor adventure companies, Midsteeple 1/4 and other local people.
Engaging with the police to ensure safety, and to help avoid anti-social behaviour and vandalism of green and public spaces is a priority.
Also mentioned is the need for partnership with public transport providers, local businesses, retailers, housing associations, Historic Environment Scotland and local historical societies.
Workshops summary replays now online
If you missed yesterday’s workshops on Green and Public Spaces, the summary discussions are now available to view (about 30 minutes). You can find them online via the DPAG Facebook page:
Tuesday 20 April, 4 to 5.30pm (sign in details to follow) for our feedback webinar, PLEASE SAVE THE DATE. Here we will visually present your ideas, summarise discussions to date, and, importantly, check with you that we’re on the right track and if anything is missing before we start to prepare your draft Dumfries Town Centre Vision and Action Plan.
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