Wigtown & bladnoch community initiative

 

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.

 

 

Current Projects

Wigtown & Bladnoch Community Initiative has a registered Community interest in 21 North Main Street, Wigtown – the former Bank of Scotland building.

What is proposed for the building?

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 favoured proposals for the building are:

Affordable flats – convert upstairs into a family size affordable flat; and convert the back part of the ground floor into a fully accessible one bedroom affordable pensioner flat.  These tenancies would be for people with local connection; our research has shown that there are lots of people struggling to find good affordable accommodation in the town, so this would help.

Bunkhouse and community space – 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 8 bunkhouse beds would mean that more people can stay in the town, and they’d shop and eat and drink at local businesses as they appreciate our wonderful town and the surrounding Machars countryside.  Also, we hope we might be able to get some community banking into the internet hub part time, because a lot of people have told us that some sort of banking would be a real bonus for the town, as well as being a link back to what the building has been used for, for decades.

These ideas come from the local community.  The bunkhouse idea is different from what other businesses and organisations do in Wigtown and Bladnoch.  There would need to be work done on the building whatever is decided, but for these proposals it looks like there could be several sources of funding to get the work done.  And once it’s up and running, there will be some income which means we should be able to create some employment such as helping to manage and clean the bunkhouse.

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

The Old Showfield on Southfield Lane has stood empty and neglected for nine 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.