Colin Smyth MSP
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth believes that the completion of phase one of the Midsteeple Quarter’s plans for Dumfries High Street could lead to a “domino effect” with neighbouring buildings next to be redeveloped.
The local MSP was commenting following a visit to view progress in the redevelopment of the former ‘Baker’s Oven’ on the High Street into housing, retail and office accommodation. It is the first phase of the Community Benefit Society’s ambitious plans to give the town centre a new lease of life by collectively buying buildings and putting them back into use.
The visit took place as the Midsteeple Quarter marked the fifth anniversary of being set up and follows years of fundraising to buy empty buildings in Dumfries High Street next to the Midsteeple.
Phase one was given planning permission in 2020 and work is well underway with a completion date scheduled next year. There have already been expressions of interest in the housing and offices and Colin Smyth believes there is real demand for housing and quality office and retail space in the town centre.
Commenting on the visit Colin Smyth said: “It is really exciting to see the progress on the ground after years of painstaking work to set up the Midsteeple Quarter then raise the huge amount of funds needed.
“It was great to learn that there is already widespread interest in the housing and office accommodation and I genuinely believe that this will result in a domino effect. Once people move into the new housing at the former Baker’s Oven, more people will want to follow and that will provide the confidence to progress onto similar redevelopments next door.
“There is no doubt there is genuine demand for town centre living and quality office accommodation in and around our High Street. The big challenge is retail, as more and more big chains pull out of our High Streets, but the aim of the Midsteeple is to provide an affordable base for local independent shops and help them grow.
“The Midsteeple Quarter is a fantastic example of community ownership in action and as they celebrate their fifth anniversary, I genuinely believe they are just at the start of something really exciting and more and more people rightly want to be a part of that success.”