Call to Help Shape a New Future for Dumfries

A call has gone out to help with creating a new and ambitious Vision and Action Plan for Dumfries Town Centre. Work on the project began at the start of 2020 with a number of successful activities, but the arrival of Covid temporarily halted a whole series of planned community and business engagement events.

Following a pause of several months, however, the partnership driving the engagement has announced that the project is to partially re-start with a series of community-based online workshops and Covid-aware engagement activities over February and March 2021. While it is clear that the normal face-to-face sessions cannot take place, the group is to take advantage of new online ways of engaging with local groups and communities. The sessions will be based on similar events that have been successfully trialled elsewhere in Scotland. The more traditional workshop-based engagement will however still take place down the line when current restrictions are lifted.

The Revitalising Dumfries Town Centre Action Plan is a 10-year (2021-2031) Vision and Action Plan, which is being developed in partnership with the community, businesses and key stakeholders, addressing the challenges and changes facing the regional capital over the short, medium and long term. It will help shape future investment and development for the town.

It is a joint project led by the Dumfries Partnership Action Group (DPAG) and commissioned by Dumfries and Galloway Council. The partnership will look to widen their reach and welcome new members as part of the engagement process. The overall project is being facilitated by PAS, a charitable social enterprise which helps communities and towns across Scotland to have their say in planning and place matters.

Youth Engagement
DPAG has been keen to make sure the views of young people are central to defining the kind of town we want to see in the future. In December 2020 pupils from Loreburn Primary School, Dumfries Academy and young people from the Oasis and Youth Citizens Service had the opportunity to share their views in specially designed events. Together, pupils from Loreburn Primary School and Dumfries Academy enthusiastically developed a new project name (Dynamically Different Dumfries), and logo, and some of their poster project ideas will soon be seen in the window of Midsteeple Quarter’s ‘The Smithy’ on the High Street later in January. Some of their ideas included the creation of more sheltered public and learning spaces, making more of the riverside area, and using vacant shop premises as family and entertainment facilities.

A 10 Year Vision for Dumfries Town Centre
To help with the wider community engagement project restart the project team are asking everyone to think positively about the year – and decade – ahead by helping create a new vision for the future of Dumfries Town Centre. This will help to create not only an Action Plan for the town centre, but a shared Vision of what the town centre should be, how it should look and how it could operate. There will be community workshops in February, and to help prepare for these the project team is keen to hear from everyone on what the Vision for Dumfries town centre should be over the next 10 years Click here to give your views.

Details of how to sign up for upcoming zoom workshops and engagement opportunities will be published shortly. Keep up to date with the project on the Dumfries Partnership Action Group social media pages (Dumfries Action: twitter and facebook) and on the Love Dumfries website: https://www.lovedumfries.co.uk/dynamic-dumfries/. Please also sign up to regular project newsletters here.

A ‘Welcome’ introductory zoom webinar will take place on Tuesday 2 Feb 4-5pm. All welcome. It is also hoped that this can be live streamed on facebook and will be recorded for all to view at their leisure. Please save this date and information on how to sign up will be available shortly.

Repeat workshops to maximise attendance (4-6pm and 7-9pm) will be as follows, so also please save these dates:
o Wed 3 Feb – Local Economy and Enterprise.
o Thurs 4 Feb – Movement and Transport
o Wed 10 Feb – Homes and Community
o Thursday 11 Feb – Green Space and Public Realm

The themes of built environment/heritage/low to zero carbon activities will be overarching themes embedded into all workshops.

If Covid restrictions allow, the project team will be using ‘The Smithy’ on the High Street as a base for project display boards. These interactive information boards will also be displayed electronically on the Love Dumfries website for those not able to, or who do not want to, attend workshops to still give their views.

DPAG Chair, Leah Halliday, says:
“DPAG is delighted to get this vital project moving again after the whole Covid interruption. While we are fully aware that we are still in the middle of this awful crisis, our group has heard reports that there seems to be a real appetite for our community to re-imagine and re-shape something that they have been sorely missing now for almost a year; their town centre. It’s as though having it ‘taken away’ has awakened people into really appreciating the central part it plays in their lives. Working with PAS and DGC we have come up with a really practical plan to get this project moving again and we appeal to everyone to feed in and help us come up with some innovative and imaginative ideas.”
Julia Frost from PAS says: “We are very excited to be working with the people of Dumfries again, and listening to their views. Together, we can come up with a Vision and Action Plan for the town’s future which builds on all previous and current plans and activity”

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