Dumfries & Stranraer Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes Update

Dumfries and Stranraer Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes

Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes (CARS) increases awareness, understanding and appreciation of a town’s rich history and heritage. The schemes enhance opportunities for people across communities to learn, access and participate in the unique history, culture, and built environment, and empower communities to take an active role in enhancing the historic environment.

The Dumfries CARS launched in March 2022. It has been progressing well with its Priority Project scheme, but there have been few applications to the Small Grants scheme. The Small Grants scheme is for the restoration and repair of traditional shopfronts, windows and doors, as well as the replacement of modern shopfronts, windows and doors with traditionally styled units. To take a proactive approach, suitable buildings are now being identified and the Council are approaching the owners with the offer of grant assistance.
The CARS has previously covered a specific area in Dumfries Town centre, but the Council has received interest from outside of the current boundary, particularly for projects on the bottom half of Bank Street and Friars Vennel. Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (E&R) (14 March) were requested to expand the Dumfries CARS area to include streets in a wider area.

Members of E&R heard of the progress of Stranraer CARS. Repairs to Stranraer Museum are moving forward, with stonemasons, Cornerstone, currently working on removal of paint and render from areas. This allows engineers and the project architects, Smith Scott Mullan Associates, to inspect the masonry behind so that detailed designs for structural repairs can be developed. The Museum repair work is being enabled by funding from Historic Environment Scotland as part of Stranraer Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) project along with funding from our Council.

Waterproof paint and render finishes can contribute to dampness in traditionally constructed buildings. While it might seem beneficial, this type of finish can prevent walls drying out naturally during drier weather. Water trapped behind an impermeable external finish can result in damp plasterwork on internal walls and can adversely affect timber joists and beams. Once masonry repairs have been completed at the Museum, the stonework towards the rear will remain exposed, as it would originally have been, while the front of the building facing George Street will be finished with a breathable water permeable paint.

Work is progressing off-site with replacement timber doors being manufactured in WH Kirkwood’s workshop ready for installation at a later stage. Repairs to the windows are underway, with as much of the original timber being retained as possible. Old sash and case windows were manufactured from very durable heartwood timber of a quality now difficult to obtain. As a result, it is better to retain and repair original joinery wherever possible as this is likely to outlast any modern replacement.

The Museum clocktower is one of the building’s most distinctive features and while the clock dial only needs minor improvements, the workings behind need attention. After around 50 years of service the motors driving the mechanism need to be replaced to ensure the clock remains reliable for many years to come.

Site scaffold and compound arrangements are essential to allow these and other works to the building to be carried out. Adjustments to the pedestrian walkway have been made to ensure it is as visible as possible and signage has been added to make it clear that all businesses are open as usual.

Chair of Economy and Resources Committee, Councillor Ian Carruthers said: “The investment in our historic buildings will benefit Stranraer and Dumfries long into the future and the understanding of the local community while work is in progress, particularly in Stranraer, is very much appreciated. I am pleased that Members have today agreed to expand the Dumfries CARS area, giving more opportunity to local businesses to improve and preserve their shopfronts.”
Vice Chair of Economy and Resources Committee, Councillor David Inglis said: “Both Stranraer and Dumfries CARS are very worthwhile schemes which will retain and enhance the historic appearance of the town centres for residents, visitors and future generations. The CARS projects are an important part of our wider regeneration strategies which is why we are investing. Improved town centres attract more into the area to live and work, boosting our local economies.”

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