The disused site on the town’s High Street is being turned into new homes and business units - seen as a significant milestone in the work by the community-owned enterprise Midsteeple Quarter to buy vacant buildings and bring them back into use.
Scottish planning and community wealth minister Tom Arthur visited the project this week as he announced £3.4m of support from Holyrood towards the £7.2m transformation of the former Baker’s Oven.
Years of campaigning and fundraising to bring the site and four other buildings into community ownership has enabled the project to reach this point.
Planning permission for the transformation of the former Baker’s Oven outlet was granted in 2020.
It will see the building transformed and extended, creating enterprise space at ground level and part of the first floor as well as seven flats on its upper floors.
The creative enterprise area will include space for pop-up projects, one-off events, long-term units for hire, a retail unit and co-working space.
The homes, which will be owned by Midsteeple Quarter Community Benefit Society, will be available to rent at an “affordable-to-mid-market” rate.
Midsteeple Quarter chairman Peter Kormylo said: “We are incredibly proud of the progress that the people of Dumfries have made to get us to this stage and extremely grateful to everyone supporting us financially for the faith they are showing in helping turn the ambitions of townsfolk into a reality.
“It is an important moment for the town to see work get underway. But there is a great deal more that we hope to achieve as we pursue the vision that residents have for Midsteeple Quarter. A lot of eyes are upon us as we demonstrate how community ownership can deliver a stronger, fairer, more sustainable future.”
RH Irving Construction was selected to carry out the phase one works following a competitive tendering process. The project is being managed by construction project management specialist Nixon.
Arthur MSP said: “I welcome this project to bring vacant buildings at Midsteeple Quarter back into use as housing and other sustainable solutions to meet the town’s needs and interests. It is already helping people to live well locally.
“Innovative projects like this demonstrate the powerful role communities can have in helping transform their town centres and neighbourhoods by investing in their future.”
The funding package supporting the first major phase of work is made up of Scottish Government grant funding, South of Scotland Enterprise funds and money from Dumfries and Galloway Council, Holywood Trust and Dumfries High Street Limited (trading as Midsteeple Quarter).
South of Scotland Enterprise chairman Russel Griggs added: “This is another huge milestone for Midsteeple Quarter and the transformation of Dumfries town centre.
“The project has reached this stage thanks to the hard work of the Midsteeple Quarter team, the input of the Dumfries public and support of public, private and third sector organisations.”