New Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme Launched For Dumfries

One of the great strengths of Dumfries is its strong community spirit and civic pride. This has been demonstrated through major community led Heritage Regeneration Projects such as the renovation of Moat Brae House and Garden, cited as being the inspiration for Peter Pan, and the refurbishment of the Theatre Royal, Scotland’s oldest continuously working theatre.

Like many towns, Dumfries Town Centre currently suffers from a high vacancy rate for retail units, a low occupancy rate for people living in the Town Centre, vacant buildings, and the poor condition of much of its historic building stock.

In partnership with Historic Environment Scotland (HES), The Council is today (21.3.22) introducing a heritage-led regeneration scheme which contributes to Dynamically Different Dumfries as part of the overall regeneration plan for Dumfries Town Centre. In conjunction with the CARS Scheme, the Dumfries Partnership Action Group (DPAG), with support from the Council, have been developing Dynamically Different Dumfries, the future vision and action plan for the Town Centre.

The Dumfries CARS will see investment of approximately £1.5m into the Conservation Area, with contributions from HES, Dumfries and Galloway Council, private investment, and other sources. Dumfries CARS will consist of:

  • Grant schemes which offer part-funding for the repair of prominent traditionally constructed buildings to bring them back into full use.
  • Improvements to the public realm.
  • A training, education and awareness programme.
  • Complimentary engagement activities.

This approach will help regenerate Dumfries Town Centre, whilst protecting and enhancing its historic character.

Dumfries CARS Scheme will incorporate two separate grants schemes: The Priority Project Scheme and the Small Grants Scheme.

The Priority Project Scheme will make substantial grant funding for targeted properties available. These Priority Projects will bring whole disused buildings back into reuse in entire-building renovation and repair projects and will support the aims of local regeneration partners such as Midsteeple Quarter and social enterprises such as Wheatley Homes. They will create homes and encourage retailers and small businesses back into the Town Centre. By carrying out repairs, using appropriate and high-quality materials and the correct and sympathetic traditional methods, it is intended that the restoration of these buildings will set a standard by which future development in the Conservation Area will be held to.

The four targeted Priority Project buildings are:

  • 8 English Street
  • 11-17 English Street
  • 117-119 High Street
  • 130-132 High StreetAs part of an assessment of Dumfries Conservation Area, these buildings were identified at the planning stage of the project as key targets for major investment. This is due to a number of factors including material condition, historical importance and their impact on the greater townscape.

    The Small Grants scheme will run in conjunction with the above and will offer funding to which any owner of a traditionally constructed building in the CARS area. This fund offers smaller amounts, typically for the repair and restoration of individual features of buildings, such as the replacement of uPVC windows and doors with traditionally styled timber units or the restoration of historic shopfronts. Currently this funding pot is made up of:

  • 4 grants of up to £25,000 each
  • 5 grants of up to £10,000 each

The exact make-up of individual grants will remain fluid as proposed funding percentages, grant amounts and intended projects can often change over the course of a CARS in line with the individual circumstances of a particular project.

In addition to the grant schemes, a suite of training, engagement and other complimentary initiatives will be developed, including training for young people, apprenticeships in repairs and maintenance methods for traditional buildings, public engagement activities and a Public Realm Improvement Scheme. Historic Environment Scotland and the Council are keen to ensure that the good work done by the CARS serves as an impetus for future repair, reuse and correct maintenance of the historic building stock of the town and building a skilled workforce fit for future repairs and maintenance of the Conservation area is key to this aim.

The Dumfries CARS Education and Involvement Plan aims to be a catalyst to:

  • Increase awareness, understanding and appreciation of Dumfries’s rich history and heritage.
  • Enhance opportunities for people across the community to learn, access and participate in the unique history, culture, and built environment.
  • Empower communities to take an active role in enhancing the historic environment.

Historic Environment Scotland’s CARS funding programme has been in operation since 2007 with over £50m of Scottish Government/HES funding awarded to more than 70 schemes throughout Scotland, contributing towards over £230m of investment by local authorities, other funding bodies and property owners in these areas.

A Council spokesperson said: “This CARS scheme will give Dumfries a much needed boost, preserving our historic infrastructure and revitalising the town centre. Property owners will be able to repair and rejuvenate their own properties with this very welcome funding, leading to a more attractive and prosperous environment for all. The addition of the education programme, which will provide our young people with the skills they need to plan their future careers is an added bonus. This will future-proof by providing our local workforce with the expertise needed for the ongoing repair and maintenance of the reinvigorated town centre.”
Amy Eastwood, Head of Grants at HES, said: “Heritage-led regeneration and the reuse of valuable heritage assets brings innumerable benefits to our towns and cities including creating jobs, attracting investment, increasing tourism and having a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. We’re pleased to support the wider regeneration programme which will bring meaningful and long-lasting effects to the local community of Dumfries.”

For further details on the scheme, and how to apply, go to:

Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) – Dumfries and Galloway Council (dumgal.gov.uk)