Midsteeple Quarter is a Community Benefit Society, established in 2017 and set up and run by the people of Dumfries. The core project of Midsteeple Quarter is to enable the community of Dumfries to take the lead in the re-development of a block in the heart of the town. The local community have developed this vision through consultations dating back to 2011, and with the active support of Dumfries and Galloway Council and numerous other local and national partners. The aim is to help shape a new community led future for the town centre; one that responds to the needs of the community and is run for their benefit.
Over the last 10-20 years, first out-of-town retail, and then online shopping started taking people away from the High Street whilst building owners maintained the rents at too high a level to allow local enterprises a chance to get started. The High Street was no longer the attractive, bustling place it once was – it was clear that something needed to change.
In 2018, they were granted ownership of 135–139 High Street (‘The Oven’) from the local council by Community Asset Transfer. The property had been acquired by Dumfries and Galloway Council in 2009 and had lain empty until it became used as a pop-up venue for local charities and groups to run fundraising events and exhibitions. This first phase allowed for
Midsteeple Quarter successfully purchased 113-115 High Street (‘The Smithy’) and 117-119 High Street (‘The Press’) in September 2020 from private funders. They are now in the process of purchasing 111 and 121 High Street with support from the Scottish Land Fund and exploring the acquisition of more buildings on the High street. They have conducted masterplans, feasibility studies, temporary uses and ongoing consultations all aimed at delivering new community led uses for these spaces.
Onsite works commenced in March 2021 on phase One of their regeneration plans. In total the project will create over 60 new homes and 50 new commercial spaces in a new neighbourhood, sheltered within a town block, which will become home to around 200 people. Full delivery of the project may take up to 15 years to achieve.