Wigtown & bladnoch community initiative

 

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AGM Notification 2023

WIGTOWN & BLADNOCH COMMUNITY INITIATIVE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative will be held on Thursday, 21st December 2023 at 7pm in the Print Room, 8 New Road, Wigtown to conduct the following business of the company.

BUSINESS
1) To receive any Apologies for absence, from Members
2) Minutes of previous AGM (21 September 2022)
3) Chairman’s Report
4) To elect nominated Directors (four vacancies)
5) To elect office bearers
6) Appointed Directors – Royal Burgh of Wigtown & District Community Council
7) Presentation of Accounts to 28 February 2023

Further details and access to Director Nomination and Proxy Voting forms are available on our downloads page.


By Order of the Board Peter Dobson, COMPANY SECRETARY
27th November 2023

Register interest in Community Owned Accommodation

Register of Interest
Wigtown Community Owned Housing

Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative (WBCI) has bought the former Bank of Scotland building at 21 North Main Street, and are now developing it to offer an affordable 3 bedroom home, and an affordable 1 bedroom fully accessible home, which are expected to be available to rent from early 2021.

At this stage we are seeking Expressions of Interest from people who might like to be considered to rent one of the homes. If you register now, a full Application Pack will be sent to you nearer the time of the properties becoming available for let.

The homes in the former Bank of Scotland will be offered for affordable let in line with an allocations policy that has been developed for the properties. The Allocations Policy and criteria for applications will be provided as part of the application pack, but it should be noted that preference is likely to be given to applicants who are able to meet one or more of the following criteria:

The applicant has a clearly established connection (residential, family or workplace) with the Royal Burgh of Wigtown & District Community Council area or those that surround Wigtown & Bladnoch;

The applicant is in clear need of help in securing an affordable and suitable house in order to be able to meet their housing needs and to live in and contribute positively to the well-being of the community of Wigtown & Bladnoch and the surrounding area.

Submitting this form will not commit you to any further action. Your information will be held confidentially and in line with current data protection legislation, and will only be used to contact you in relation to these homes.

You can register your interest in one of the properties by downloading, completing and returning the Register of Interest available HERE

or by completing it online at https://tinyurl.com/EofIWBCI.

ALL EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST SHOULD BE SUBMITTED BY NOON ON 31 OCTOBER 2020

Final Grant Funding in place

Wigtown and Bladnoch Community Initiative are pleased to announce funding has been approved from the RURAL HOUSING FUND (RHF) for £146,119.50 to support the redevelopment of the former Bank building in Wigtown.

The Rural Housing Fund was established by the Scottish Government in order to address the unique and specific issues associated with building affordable housing in rural areas, and to increase affordable housing across all tenures in rural Scotland.

This additional funding from the RHF is a grant specifically to support development work to provide two new affordable homes in the former bank; one family-sized three-bedroom property and one fully accessible ground floor flat.

We are delighted to announce that this is the final piece in the funding jigsaw and we have been able to engage with the successful tender contractors to commence work which is hoped to start at the end of June.  In line with most build expectations work is currently scheduled to be completed by Christmas 2020.

This project has been made possible by:

  • Scottish Land Fund
  • Rural Housing Fund
  • Town Centre Capital Fund
  • SSE Sustainable Development Fund
  • D&G Council’s Town Centre Living Fund
  • The Architectural Heritage Fund
  • Kilgallioch Community Benefit Company
  • Dumfries & Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust

Planning Application submitted

We successfully completed the purchase of 21 North Main Street, Wigtown at the end of January and went straight to work with the architects to finalise the plans ready for submission to Dumfries and Galloway Council.

The plans have now been lodged with the council and are available to view and comment on the Council’s website at: https://eaccess.dumgal.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=PPHPERGBGO300

What is proposed for the former bank building?

The following section lists the services and activities which we will provide from the former Bank:

The Book Town Bunkhouse

The Book Town Bunkhouse will comprise one 8 bed mixed dorm and one private double bedroom as well as basic kitchen facilities and a shared ‘Living Room’ area. This social space will be used by visitors staying at the Bunkhouse. There will be a wet room with shower, toilet and hand basin and a separate rest room with a toilet and hand basin. Sleeping 10 people, the Book Town Bunkhouse will complement the existing accommodation available in Wigtown. Primarily catering to walkers and cyclists, the bunkhouse will serve the lower end of the market – providing simple, but high quality accommodation, at a low price. As the bunkhouse will be small, we do not anticipate any displacement from existing businesses.

Community Garden

There is a large garden to the rear of the property (536m2) which is currently tended by a local person. Local community research suggested that there would be appetite for turning the space into a community garden and allotments. W&BCI are hoping to partner with local garden groups to manage the space with the possibility of developing community “editable gardens”. We plan to hold a public meeting towards the end of August 2019 to look at the best use of the garden space for the community.

Affordable Housing

The housing needs analysis undertaken by Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust (DGSCHT) established a need for more affordable housing in the area. As a result, the former bank will be converted into two affordable homes. The two upper floors will become a three bedroom family flat, and the ground floor space to the rear of the building will become an accessible one bedroom flat.

These properties will be available at local social rent levels – which are currently £302/month for a one bedroom flat and £398/month for a three bedroom flat. These prices are benchmarked to charges made by Loreburn Housing – one of the main Registered Social Landlords in Dumfries and Galloway – and are indicative of rates at the time of writing.  The initial rates will be determined by the relevant local rates when the properties are available to the rental market.  With the support of DGSCHT we will establish an allocation policy, and set up the relevant procedures for managing tenancies. One named member of the board will act as the landlord and be the emergency contact for repairs and maintenance.

GoFundMe to raise 5% of purchase price

We hoped that the Bank of Scotland might assist the community purchase by agreeing a discount on the purchase price but they have declined. The Initiative therefore needs to raise about £8000 to complete the purchase (£6,000 to complete the purchase valuation price and £2,000 for legal and additional purchase costs).

WBCI has set up a GoFundMe web page to request donations to help raise this amount. Without this final amount of money we cannot complete the purchase of the building.

Please donate to support us and pass one the link below via Social Media, email or whatever means you can think of to encourage others to do the same.

https://www.gofundme.com/wigtownbankbuilding

Town Centre Living Fund Application Success

The intention of this fund is to increase the supply of affordable housing in the regions town centres and settlements by bringing empty properties back into use.

The former Bank will include a one bedroom flat to be let at £70.75 per week, £306.58 per month, £3,679 per annum; and a three bedroom flat to be let at £93.32 per week, £404.38 per month, £4,852.64 per annum. We believe these levels are in line with those expected from Registered Social Landlords and within the levels for the Local Housing Allowance, which ensures affordability for residents as per our priority of offering alternative options for affordable letting in the Wigtown and Bladnoch area.

D&G Council’s Communities Committee were pleased to announce that WBCI has been awarded £60,000 from the Town Centre Living Fund to support the work necessary to convert the three bedroom flat and single bedroom ground floor apartment.

Public Ballot Results

The Votes have been counted and the result was as follows:

In Favour : 226

Against: 51

We now await the decision of the Scottish Government to see whether the overwhelming majority will enable us to proceed with the purchase for the benefit of the community.

Wigtown area Housing Needs Survey – Update

The Dumfries & Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust (DGSCHT) have advised us that 58 responses have been received so far in response to the online and paper survey.  More responses would be welcome, so please encourage your friends and neighbours to pop online via our this website or paper copies of the survey are available from Machars Action, where they should be returned after completion.

Over the next few weeks DGSCHT will be working with us to talk to local organisations and groups to get feedback from them on housing needs, and will also be running drop in sessions for anyone to attend to ask questions and have an opportunity to provide feedback.

Details will be provided in the local press and on posters and flyers distributed around Wigtown and Bladnoch.

 

 

Current Projects

As part of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland’s Radical Action Plan, it has been decided by Presbytery that Wigtown Church Hall has to be sold/disposed by the end of Dec 2023.

Wigtown and Bladnoch Community Initiative along with individual members of the Church congregation are keen to see the building retained for the benefit of the community of Wigtown and to develop its place as a central resource for residents and visitors alike. There have been several ideas already put forward for how the building could be used, and this project aims to acquire the building for the community and develop it into a sustainable community asset.

The Church Hall comprises a one storey purpose built church hall premises of brick and blockwork construction situated on the northside of Lochancroft Lane, near to the town centre. Internally, the premises comprises a traditional church hall and accommodates a large main hall, kitchen, private offices/rooms, storage areas and a series of toilet facilities. The flooring throughout is solid and overlaid in a combination of carpet, vinyl and wooden flooring dependent upon the location within the premises.
It is currently used by various church and community groups for meetings, recreational activities (such as table tennis and badminton), a toddlers play group, local flower and produce festival and occasional performances.

The Hall was originally build with funds raised from the community and there is therefore a strong connection and strength of feeling towards its continued use and benefit to the people of Wigtown.

The initiative own and manage the former Bank of Scotland building in Wigtown.

After public meetings, and work with a range of groups and organisations in the area, run by W&BCI with expertise from Community Enterprise, the building was successfully converted into:

Affordable flats – upstairs into a family size affordable flat; and the back part of the ground floor into a fully accessible one bedroom affordable flat.  These tenancies are for people with local connection;

Bunkhouse – convert the main “retail” area of the bank that opens off the square into a bunkhouse for visitors with an internet hub.  Similar to the bunkhouse idea at the Barholm Arms in Creetown, affordable holiday accommodation for pilgrimage, walkers, cyclists and so on is lacking in Wigtown. And at busy times, there is just not enough holiday accommodation in the area.  Offering maybe 6 bunkhouse beds means that more people can stay in the town, and shop and eat and drink at local businesses as they appreciate our wonderful town and the surrounding Machars countryside.

Please help us Let Wigtown Flourish.  Can Wigtown bank on your support?

The Old Showfield on Southfield Lane has stood empty and neglected for fifteen years. Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative has been formed to regain community ownership of the Showfield. We feel that it would greatly enhance Wigtown.

Initial ideas for the future use of the Showfield have included affordable housing and business units, an area for outdoor events with space for a marquee and parking, a community orchard and various projects.

Using Community Right to Buy legislation, the Scottish Government has given us the right to buy the land if the current owners put it on the market.  If that happens, we would apply to the Scottish Land Fund for a grant towards the cost.  Unfortunately the owners, 3b construction, have a planning application for 43 houses (of various sizes) for the old showfield.  For the present, therefore, we are waiting to see what the Council decides about their application.