D&G Council Investment in Stranraer

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s capital programme for investing in our region’s economic infrastructure focusses on supporting projects which promote the economic resilience of priority areas: Dumfries, Stranraer & The West, Upper Nithsdale, Annan & DG12, and Langholm. A progress update will be provided to Members of Economy and Resources Committee (24 Nov).

Following discussions with the Stranraer Moving and Revitalising Task (SMART) group, the Scottish Towns Partnership is undertaking an Understanding Scottish Places, Your Town Audit of Stranraer town centre. This work will gather information on the performance of the centre against approximately 50 Key Performance Indicators across 7 themes: Locality Data, Accessibility, Local Services, Activity/Events, Development Capacity, Tourism and Visitor Profile, Place/Quality Impression. Engagement will take place soon with the local community on what works about Stranraer and where it needs to improve, with a particular focus on priorities for supporting recovery from the social and economic impact of the pandemic. This work will culminate in a prioritised Action Plan.

There are a number of priority projects in the Stranraer area: Stranraer Marina; the George Hotel; Stranraer Water Sports Activity, Training & Regatta Centre; the Stranraer CARS project; Business Expansion Project: Stranraer Community Re-use Centre; and the Castle Square, Stranraer: Stepping Stanes Reinstatement.

The updated outline business case for Stranraer Marina is currently with the Scottish
Government for informal consideration prior to being lodged formally. Liaison is continuing with Stranraer Water Sports Association to ensure that the marina proposals are aligned with SWSA plans for its new training and regatta facility.

The Council awarded an allocation of £65,472 to allow the SWSA to undertake a feasibility study into their proposal for a Centre that will engage the local community and tourists in water sports and activities. This project has the potential to contribute to the regeneration of the Waterfront, which itself is driven by our aim of repositioning the town as a marine leisure destination.

Research has been conducted on potential end uses for The George Hotel:
• Tourism –visitor centre, tourism accommodation, tourism related retail use;
• Training accommodation – for use by agencies providing specialised skills development to adults requiring supported employment.
• Commercial accommodation – café, shop units, offices.
• Residential accommodation – affordable housing for rent.

However, following confidential interviews with organisations, it seems that, due to the size and scale of the site, one single end use is unlikely to be sufficient to occupy all the space that is potentially available. Also, the existing condition of the building, the associated complexity and likely high cost of its rehabilitation, is acting as a significant barrier to stimulating interest from potential users.

Consequently, it is likely that the end use at the Hotel will comprise a mix of uses with more than one end user taking up the space, or, whilst demolition of the former hotel is not an objective, it may be the case that, as the work to firm up proposals for end use unfolds, demolition may need to be assessed as one of the options for the project.

Rob Davidson, Chair of Economy and Resources said: “Our economic development capital programme included a number of high-profile projects for Stranraer before the pandemic struck, and these are now more important than ever before due to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. This type of investment is not only vital to the economic wellbeing of our towns, but also to revitalise our communities.”
Archie Dryburgh, Vice Chair said: “These are just a few of our projects in Stranraer. We also undertook the regeneration of the town centre through the redevelopment of the public space at Castle Square in order to attract locals and visitors into the heart of the town. The overall plan is to reposition Stranraer as a tourist destination, to attract visitors from farther afield and to bring additional investment into the revitalised area.”

The full report can be read here:

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