Midsteeple Quarter awards milestone construction contract
Midsteeple Quarter, the community-owned enterprise shaping a new future for Dumfries town centre, has awarded the contract for construction work on its first phase of major redevelopment.
RH Irving Construction has been selected to transform the disused former Baker’s Oven site at 135-139 High Street into new homes and business units - a significant milestone in a regeneration scheme which is attracting national interest.
Their appointment follows a competitive tendering process and the finalisation of funding - details of which will be announced soon - to make the landmark project possible.
It comes on the back of years of work by townsfolk to form Midsteeple Quarter and raise the money needed to purchase a number of formerly vacant buildings on Dumfries High Street so that they can be brought back into use, breathing new life into the area.
The site is the first on which major works will take place. Construction is expected to start within weeks and is scheduled to take about 18 months to complete.
Midsteeple Quarter chairman Peter Kormylo, said: “We have reached an exciting moment in realising the vision that the people of Dumfries have for Midsteeple Quarter and for transforming our High Street. This is a significant investment in the town’s future - one that we can all be proud of.
“We are grateful for the tremendous support we continue to have from the community, funders and so many others. We cannot wait for work to begin and are looking forward to working with RH Irving.”
Planning permission for Phase One was granted in 2020. It will see the building transformed and extended, creating enterprise space at ground level and part of the first floor as well as seven flats on its upper floors.
The creative enterprise area will include space for pop-up projects, one-off events, long-term units for hire, a retail unit and co-working space. The homes - which will be owned by Midsteeple Quarter Community Benefit Society - will be available to rent at an affordable-to-mid-market rate.
RH Irving, based at Longtown in north Cumbria, works extensively across southern Scotland, with key members of the project team having close links with Dumfries.
Mark Moodycliffe, managing director at RH Irving Construction, added: “We are delighted to have been appointed as main contractor for the Baker’s Oven project.
“We look forward to working in partnership with Midsteeple Quarter, the project team and other stakeholders to successfully deliver the new homes and creative enterprise areas and having the opportunity to play our part in the regeneration of Dumfries High Street.”
Midsteeple Quarter’s work to take buildings into community ownership - underpinned by the principle that this is the fairest way to act in the interests of townsfolk to create a stronger, more sustainable town centre - is considered as trailblazing.
Executive director Scott Mackay, commented: “There is huge interest in the work taking shape in Dumfries High Street. Communities across the United Kingdom are keen to learn from what we are doing.
“We are in no doubt that responsible community ownership lies at the heart of a fairer, better future, where residents - rather than absentee landlords - prosper. The transformation of the former Bakers Oven site will go a long way to demonstrating that, bringing with it jobs, quality homes and a renewed sense of hope into the town.”
Midsteeple Quarter also owns numbers 109, 111, 113-115 and 117 High Street.