Possible Increase in Grants for Stranraer Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme

Members of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (30 Jan) will hear a report on the progress of the Stranraer Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS).

This is part of a national programme to conserve Scotland’s traditional buildings and support the economic regeneration of town centres. The Stranraer CARS is enabled by funding from Dumfries and Galloway Council and Historic Environment Scotland (HES), with investment of around £921K from the council and £541k from HES, plus a further contribution from the owners of the properties.

Providing Members agree, it is proposed to increase the flexibility of the grant programme by offering grants at a rate of up to 90%, an increase on the previous 60%, for eligible works up to any value. Applications will still be assessed according to Historic Environment Scotland’s criteria namely:
• The potential to bring empty or under-used historic buildings back into use
• The protection and restoration of historic features
• The reinstatement of lost architectural details including traditional windows
• The potential impact on historic streetscapes
There has been a high level of interest in the CARS grant programme, with more than 60 enquiries to date, and detailed advice provided to many applicants. The application process has been designed to make the scheme as accessible as possible while meeting the conditions of the CARS programme. Under current terms a grant can be offered for 60% of up to £20K of eligible costs per property (i.e. up to £12K grant). The grant is intended to offset the greater expenditure this approach requires, as opposed to a short-term fix using lower quality materials.

The project runs until March 2021 and key elements of the Stranraer CARS include the repair and restoration of priority buildings including the old Harbourmaster’s Office – which was the first project to be completed. Work included the repair and restoration of the original building while the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund enabled construction of an extension.

Work is also being undertaken on plans for the repair and restoration of Stranraer Museum and Gillespie’s bakery. Community engagement has included capturing memories of the past and ideas for the future. The Category A Listed Building in the historic heart of the town plays an integral part in Stranraer’s heritage for both local people and visitors with its important role as the town’s Museum. The status of the building requires specifications that respects the historic fabric of the building and work must be carried out to the highest standard.

Chair of E&R Committee, Rob Davidson said: “Providing Members agree, the possible increase in grants from 60% to 90% of the works is a fantastic opportunity for property owners in Stranraer. This is a very worthwhile scheme which will retain and enhance the historic appearance of Stranraer for residents, visitors and future generations. Commercial premises are the primary focus of the programme and eligible works include conservation of traditional roofs, stonework, render, gutters and downpipes, chimneys, windows and doors. However, conditions include the need for applicants to obtain professional advice to prepare plans for submission, and the scope of eligible works which requires the use of traditional materials.”
Vice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said: “The CARS project is an important part of the wider regeneration strategy for Stranraer which is why we are investing heavily. These substantial grants are still available and we urge owners of buildings in the town centre to get in touch to find out more about the funding for their projects.”