Crowdfunder Launched to Save Historic Midsteeple Quarter

Midsteeple Quarter, a Community Benefit Society, are urging Midsteeple Quarter supporters, local businesses and fellow Doonhamers from wherever they are in the world to respond to an urgent appeal and come together as a town to support their Crowdfunder to raise money to purchase the three remaining empty buildings within the Midsteeple Quarter area of Dumfries Town centre.

109, 111 and 121 High Street form part of the community led Midsteeple Quarter regeneration project for the town centre. Midsteeple Quarter have recently been granted an award from the Scottish Land Fund, but the grant only goes part way towards the purchases. They now need to show that the community are behind the initiative by supporting it financially and have organised this Crowdfunder to raise the remainder of the money required to purchase the buildings as well as do essential repairs and cover insurance.

In awarding the grant, the Scottish Land Fund Board commented that with the current problems High Streets all over the UK are facing, Midsteeple Quarter is of national importance as an innovative project focusing on community-led regeneration as a possible solution.

Midsteeple Quarter Manager, Scott Mackay, commented: “The Covid pandemic has intensified the pressures on High Streets around the country with stores closing practically every week – this situation just amplifies the need for a fresh approach, and we are (for once!) fortunate in Dumfries to be a little ahead of the curve by having the Midsteeple Quarter vision in place and underway. The pandemic is also encouraging previously reluctant owners to sell their properties and part of the recovery from Covid must be the re-use of vacant retail spaces for new local businesses and social enterprises to start up.” Following the purchase of 113-115 High Street and 117 High Street in September, Midsteeple Quarter are now moving into the next phase of their plans for the regeneration of Dumfries High Street. The purchase of these buildings is key to wider plans to repurpose the town centre, with more diverse and vibrant offerings of premises and spaces that will accommodate housing and a range of commercial, retail, leisure and community uses.

The Crowdfunder is now live, with over £10,000 already donated in less than 48 hours. The target amount is £450,000 to acquire all three available buildings, but whatever amount is raised by the deadline will go towards buying at least one or two of the buildings, enabling Midsteeple Quarter to bring them back to economic use and inject new life back onto Dumfries High Street. The Crowdfunder will run until Sunday 14th February (Valentine’s Day) at midnight, signifying a passion for change and a love for Dumfries High Street.

Commenting on the launch of the Crowdfunder, former Dumfries resident, Jimmy Russell commented: “Midsteeple Quarter was set up to address the dilemmas faced by small towns dependent on a model of remote control, cloned retail which treats local workers as disposable while relying on unsustainable global supply chains. I’m proud to support Midsteeple Quarter and its partners in their efforts to revitalise what had been a bustling town only a few decades ago.” “I left Dumfries reluctantly last year but remain a regular Doonhamer when it’s safe to travel. I can’t wait to see the gradual changes to our high street as Midsteeple Quarter develops a new blueprint for town centres nationwide. Well done to the Midsteeple Quarter team, and to local people (both born here and from all over the world) who continue to make Dumfries an amazing place to live.” Dumfries is leading the way as the first community buy-out of a High Street in the country and Midsteeple Quarter are urging local people, supporters and the wider world to support them and come together to take back control of the High Street and help fund the purchase of 109, 111 and 121 High Street.

These three buildings will likely remain empty indefinitely if urgent action is not taken, but should Midsteeple Quarter be successful, these buildings will be part of a prosperous future; a future that would see part of the High Street held in common ownership by local people. Any donation will support them to make their ambitious plan for Dumfries town centre a reality.

People wishing to donate can do so here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/reclaim-the-high-street or by emailing [email protected] You can find more about the Midsteeple Quarter project here: www.midsteeplequarter.org

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