Over 800 people have completed an online survey which asked for views on the future of the town centre. From the sign-up on the survey and the two consultation events held since November 2016 there is now a group 0f 483 people in a mailing group to support this local project to re-populate Dumfries High Street as part of efforts to revitalise the town.
Melissa Gunn (University of the West of Scotland – who are members of the community partnership leading the project) says, “We have been overwhelmed by the response from people; we were not expecting to receive as many as we did, considering the number of people we had through the doors during our Bakers Oven event. Online surveys often bring out more negative responses, but here the opposite was true. We were particularly surprised by 40% of people saying they themselves would be keen to live in the town centre.”
The Midsteeple Quarter survey was completed by a wide age range of people with 20% of respondents under 35, the majority between 35 and 60 and 23% over 60. People felt that a populated High Street was important for a vibrant town centre. There was also strong support for a mix of accommodation from affordable tenancies to student accommodation and private flats available in the upper floors above the shops.
Confirming previous work conducted by The Stove Network, the consultations revealed support for a more diverse approach to the future of the town centre with a very positive response to ideas of enterprise, education, live-work, health services and restaurants/nightlife all being available as well as more events, festivals and markets to encourage more footfall in the town centre.
The Midsteeple Quarter project is developing fast including progress with:
- Transferring the Bakers Oven building to community ownership to be developed as a business/education innovation hub with residential accommodation above.
- Dumfries & Galloway NHS have joined the community partnership as part of their plans to re-locate services and staff as part of the changes connected with the new hospital.
- We are moving forward with the formation of a new community company called ‘Dumfries High Street’ to steward the Midsteeple Quarter project for the benefit of local people.
- Preparations are underway for a national architectural competition to test out the public’s ideas and shape a vision for the project that can be delivered by the community partnership.
- Working with DGC Planners to embed Midsteeple Quarter within the new Local Development Plan.
All in all there is very encouraging progress around the project – the local media are reporting very positively (see BBC here) and we have cross-party political support. If you would like to know more detail or get more actively involved please reply to this email or drop into The Stove Cafe for a chat.