Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee convenes on Tuesday 11 June and will be asked to agree to allocate half a million pounds to support housing development projects to aid the regeneration of our towns within the region.
Also on the agenda is the move to agree to allocate £300k to provide grant assistance to owners of empty properties that have been unused for more than a year. As well as this, members will be asked to agree to the allocation of £200k from the Town Centre Living fund to provide grant assistance to tackle below tolerable standards properties across the region.
The budget meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Full Council agreed in February to put £1million into the Town Centre Living Fund, via the income from Council Tax on second homes. The report will give members an account of how money is being spent and ask for their input on how future funds are allocated across our large towns and smaller towns (as dictated by the Local Development Plan).
Dumfries is listed as the regional centre, with larger town centres listed as;
• Castle Douglas
• Newton Stewart
As well as these towns, other smaller town centres are eligible for grants. These include;
• Kirkconnel / Kelloholm
At Communities Committee last year, it was agreed that £500,000 would be allocated to support the development of a range of sites and empty buildings within our town centres. If agreed at the 11 June meeting, it will empower registered social landlords and private developers to take forward projects supported by our Council’s and Scottish Government funding.
The report also details a change in criteria for the fund that will provide benefit to shop owners who have flats adjoined to their premises. Previously, these flats were no eligible for below tolerable standards funding, but under the new guidance, they will be.
Councillor Andy Ferguson who Chairs Communities Committee commented;
“This is fantastic news for people living above our shops, pubs and restaurants within Dumfries and Galloway. Previously, landlords would have been reluctant to apply to the fund, but hopefully this change will encourage them to do exactly that. Our message is a clear one – this money will be given to those properties most in need.”
Tolerable standards refers to various provisions within a property including a stable structure, provision for natural and artificial lighting and a fixed bath or shower and wash-hand basin. Applications will be means tested, but in some cases a 100% grant will be given to those applying, as well as a flat rate 50% rate for owner occupiers and provide sector landlords.
Vice Chairman Councillor John Martin drew attention to the maximum grant amount by stating;
“The report recommends a maximum £20k grand for eligible works. This is quite a sum of money, indeed some of the properties most in need of the work would not have cost that new many years ago. This Committee will remain as the gate-keeper for grant applications and I have total belief that this Town Centre Living Fund will act as the catalyst for mass improvements in living conditions within our town centres.”
You can read the full report on the council website.