Council Signs Over More Assets Over To Community Ownership

Elected members gave four community asset transfers (CATs) and the lease of land at Agnew Park, Stranraer, the go-ahead at the Tuesday 18 June meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee.

Community Asset Transfers allow community groups and organisations to take over a current or surplus council asset/property, under the Community Empowerment Act, 2015.
Since 2017, the council has transferred properties and agreed long-term leases to the value of around £3m with the number of CATs agreed now exceeding 60. As a result of this investment, communities have brought in around £28m to the region.

Queensberry Garages in Sanquhar was first CAT on the agenda, with members agreeing the application from Sanquhar Enterprise Company.

The site, located off Queensberry Square, has deteriorated in recent years. Community groups and local businesses need storage units, and the enterprise company aims to refurbish the garages to provide these. This will see external funding sought and invested in the local community.

The second CAT agreed was the multi-use games area (MUGA) in Kirkland Street, St John’s Town of Dalry.

Councillors voted to transfer the 1300 square-metre MUGA to St. John’s Town of Dalry Community Properties Trust, which has carried out wide consultation across the local community and received unanimous support for providing a safe, modern, multi-use facility in the town.

The local school will retain free use of the MUGA, and the trust plans to secure external funding to complete resurfacing work and improve the MUGA’s condition.
Third up was the transfer of 5295 square metres of land from the council at Blackparks Industrial Estate, Stranraer, to The Furniture Project Stranraer Ltd, trading as the Community Reuse Shop.

Members agreed to transfer the land for £1, with the accompanying report citing a “strong” proposal “with its emphasis on volunteering, training, mitigation of poverty and community cohesion”.

The facility is co-located on the Stranraer Zero Waste Park and the council’s waste service works closely with Furniture Project Stranraer Ltd. The Furniture Project Stranraer Ltd takes reusable materials presented by the public at five of the council’s 12 household waste recycling centres and the community asset transfer will help ensure this continues.

The fourth CAT agreed by councillors was the transfer of the pavilion and surrounding land at Kirroughtree Avenue, Minnigaff, to Newton Stewart Men’s Shed.

Since 2022, Newton Stewart Men’s Shed has been the leaseholder on the property paying £3,000 per year. Shed members have raised £28,942 in grants, which has seen them fit out the workshops to undertake a wide range of projects and allow members to develop a breadth of skills in line with their capabilities and ambitions.

Members of Newton Stewart Men’s Shed are mainly retired males. Members include those settling into civilian life after retiring from the armed forces, and those coming to terms with bereavement following the death of a partner.

Separate to the Community Asset Transfers, councillors granted The Stranraer Water Sports Association a long-term lease for land at the Stranraer Waterfront, which is currently the site of the HM Coastguard Station.

The lease on land at Agnew Park is needed for the association, as local project sponsors, to deliver the Water Sports Hub project as part of the Stranraer Waterfront Regeneration Project.
Chair of the Finance, Procurement and Transformation Committee, Cllr Ivor Hyslop said: “There was a real range of Community Asset Transfers approved today at FPT Committee, which just goes to show the thriving and entrepreneurial communities we have across the region.
“From Men’s Sheds to reuse and recycle projects, these are just the sort of initiatives the council wishes to support and encourage, and the fact that this brings the number of Community Asset Transfers to more than 60 over the past seven years is a testament to the hard work and innovation of people living and working in Dumfries and Galloway.
Vice-Chair, Cllr Richard Marsh commented: “I’m delighted the committee has agreed to progress these four transfers and the long-term lease of land at the Stranraer Waterfront today. Community Asset Transfers can empower local communities to develop services for local people and lever in significant external funding and investment.”

Papers for the 18 June 2024 Finance, Procurement and Transformation meeting can be viewed using the ‘Committee Meetings’ section of our website at www.dumgal.gov.uk