Across our region, regeneration of the most disadvantaged areas and strengthening local communities are key priorities for Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Despite there being evidence of a very high level of need for rented housing across our region, some areas of social housing remain out of favour. Low demand is related to the unpopularity of particular house types in specific letting areas. Empty properties can cause blight, attract anti-social behaviour and reduce community cohesion in the areas where they are located. It is therefore a localised problem that requires individual solutions on a case by case basis.
One area of concern is Lochside in Dumfries: the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation recognises that Lochside has the greatest number of people living in one of the most deprived areas in the region.
At present DGHP has 12 blocks in the Lochside area which are either void or where the majority of flats are empty. There are a total of 87 properties with 74 currently vacant through customers naturally moving on. Given the detriment of these blocks to the local area, housing management issues, fly tipping and anti-social behaviour, DGHP intend to take early action to resolve these challenges. Discussions with the remaining residents have begun with the intention of finding alternative suitable accommodation for them, or instigating buy backs from the owner occupiers.
Working in partnership with DGHP and the Wheatley Group, this Council intends to fully engage with the local Lochside Community to understand and take action on needs or issues that the community is experiencing. Place-making is a collaborative process that includes the design, development, renewal or regeneration of an area. The outcome of this process should be places that are sustainable, well designed and provide homes that meet people’s needs by utilising the local services. The proposed area being considered for regeneration includes a mixture of land ownerships, including the Council and DGHP. The proposal seeks to collectively ‘pool’ this land to take a holistic approach to improving the physical environment.
Chair of Economy and Resources Committee, Rob Davidson said: “Delivering high quality new affordable housing to address unmet need is a key policy aspiration for the Council and its partner organisations. Transforming Lochside will require the development of modern, sustainable housing, whilst also addressing climate change by including open spaces and active travel routes. There are opportunities to improve the linkages within Lochside to connect with local services and the North West Community Campus. In addition, this approach will also encourage more environmentally friendly forms of transport to travel to other locations, such as Dumfries town centre.”
Vice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said: “To meet need our Council is always on the lookout for opportunities for expanding the town by allocating sites for housing in close proximity to community facilities, schools and existing sustainable transport infrastructure. A community already exists in Lochside, and we are keen to improve and expand the housing stock for that community to remain where they live, but also to attract new families into a much transformed and regenerated area. In addition to sustainable housing, this project will provide additional training opportunities and jobs for local people.”
To read the full report go to: https://dumfriesgalloway.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=551&MId=5188