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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Votes have been counted and the result was as follows:
In Favour : 226
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.
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.
The Scottish Government’s Scottish Land Fund has awarded Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative stage one funding from the Scottish Land Fund. The money is for developing detailed proposals for the community to buy the former Bank of Scotland building in Wigtown. It adds to a grant from the Rural Housing Fund to look into needs for housing in Wigtown and Bladnoch, and to consider how the former bank could provide affordable housing options.
The building is now for sale, and we have a registered community interest which gives us until December to complete plans and put funding in place. Local architect, Hazel Smith, and two consultancy companies – Community Enterprise, and Dumfries & Galloway Small Communities’ Housing Trust – have been brought in to provide design expertise, and support with community engagement and business planning.
We will be arranging meetings in the new few weeks to hear what local organisations, groups and residents think, what people would like to see, and what they are worried about.
All residents within the area of Wigtown and Bladnoch will have the opportunity to vote to determine whether the former Bank becomes a community owned asset in July and we will be encouraging everyone to have their say. Posters, flyers and other information will be displayed and posted around Wigtown and Bladnoch over the coming few weeks.
3b have submitted a new planning application of the Old Showfield, which is for the same number of houses as the previous application, and looks to be exactly the same.
Full details of the application can be found on the Council’s planning website at: https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/planning Click on the option to SEARCH PLANNING APPLICATIONS and after confirming acceptance of the terms and conditions use the following application code to find the full details: 18/0149/FUL
3b Construction proposes to build 43 houses with associated roads, parking, landscaping, etc. Their earlier application was refused due to lack of submission of some supplementary information. They have now re-submitted, the same proposal, but with a little more detail on elevations and large vehicle access; there is still very little information on the affordable housing element.
The Library should have a copy of the application as well. D&G Council will make a decision about this application in the next few months.
Anyone is entitled to have their say about this.
Speak to your D&GC Councillors.
Write to the Planning Department by March 14th at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Planning Dept., D&G Council, Kirkbank, English Street, Dumfries DG1 2HS.
Just before Christmas we received official notification from the Scottish Ministers that they had decided that the community’s interest in the former Bank of Scotland branch in Wigtown should be entered into the Register of Community Interests in Land. The Bank of Scotland had been given the opportunity to submit views on our application but, as they had chosen not to, the Scottish Ministers considered that this meant that they had no objections to it.
Nothing more can happen until the Bank of Scotland formally notifies the Scottish Government that they want to sell the building, at which time the community’s right to buy will be triggered and W&BCI will be given first refusal. W&BCI will then have at least six months in which to work up detailed proposals for the building to satisfy both the Scottish Ministers on the sustainability of the plans and the Scottish Land Fund who could provide up to 95% of an independent valuation of the Bank building and land.
The Royal Burgh of Wigtown Community Council decided to make no submission in regard to 3b planning
application at their meeting on Monday 8th Jan 2018.
The deadline for public submissions has now passed. 16 individual objections have been lodge via the comments and formal documents process.
Other statutory opinions still coming in to the Planning Authority. D&G Council Planning Applications Committee will consider application in
3b were requested to supply additional information on four areas by D&G Planning:
- The detail of the site sections provided:
- Details of Cut and Fill on the site:
- Vehicle tracking for the site for refuse vehicles:
- Affordable Housing proposal and provision thereof.