The Midsteeple Quarter Project in Dumfries has been presented as a case study at a national conference on community land ownership in Glasgow. The event, which took place on Tuesday 6th March, was led by Community Land Scotland – a registered charity which was established as a response to the need for a collective voice for community landowners in Scotland.
Our very own Matt Baker delivered the presentation last week, and commented on new legislation from Scottish Government which has made places with a population of over 10,000 people eligible for community buy outs of derelict buildings and land that is blighting their communities. For years, absentee landlords have been able to hold our High Street to ransom – this national event in Glasgow showed that Dumfries is one of the towns in Scotland that is leading the way for local people to take back control of their town centres.
Up until now, communities taking ownership of their land has been a rural affair, with high profile examples such as the Islands of Eigg and Harries and Assynt in the North West mainland. The event on Tuesday addressed the need for urban communities to use the legislation and opportunities of community empowerment to regain ownership of empty builidings on High Streets that are owned by absentee landlords.
The Midsteeple Quarter Project is an example of community-led initiatives and has been working to breathe new life into Dumfries town centre by developing a section of the High Street as a live/work quarter. This project is a response to the desire to re-populate the town centre. Long-term and careful consultation facilitated by the Stove Network, Dumfries High Street Limited and other partners have identified a block of mostly Georgian buildings in the heart of the town centre as the site for this bold initiative that will see local people developing their own High Street.
On Saturday 7th April, there will be a public launch for the Midsteeple Quarter Benefit Society, and everyone in the community is invited to join in the effort to take back control of our High Street.
People can keep up to date with Midsteeple Quarter Project by visiting their website: www.midsteeplequarter.org.