£1 future of council buildings and land to be considered

A LEASE of up to 20 years could be agreed on Thursday to create an accessible and inclusive play park in Dumfries.

Officials have recommended that charity Include Us be given the lease for Catherine Street Play Park to help improve the wellbeing of disabled children and young people by creating an accessible and inclusive space and providing opportunities for fun and friendship.

Councillors will hear that the park’s manager would provide work experience opportunities for secondary school, college students and will provide placements for interns through working with colleagues in Project Search and Project Scotland.

Children of all ages and abilities would also benefit from the opportunity to learn about nature by getting involved with the community garden and activities put on in the park.

The policy and resources committee will also be told that the proposal will provide volunteering opportunities: including older volunteers with skills and experience to act as mentors to younger volunteers and work directly with children and young people; and young volunteers with additional needs receiving work experience and volunteering to improve their chances for employment.

In addition to the initial £150,000 Inclusive Play development fund identified by Dumfries and Galloway Council towards the Catherine Street project, Include Us have secured over £250,000 in capital and revenue grants. The lease would be set at £1 per year.At the same meeting Councillors will also be asked to consider approving a 25-year lease for Lochvale House in Georgetown Road, Dumfries to the LGS Community Trust – again at £1 per year.

The Community Trust have successfully operated as the management committee for Lochvale House for the past 16 months, increasing footfall and use of the centre, creating employment opportunities, supporting new community-based businesses and enhancing the long-term viability of the community centre.

The Community Trust have put forward proposals for a long-term project: to build a single-story extension, upgrade the existing kitchen, a new play park, sensory gardens, alter the current café area to form a shop/lobby/reception, alter the existing multi use hall to form a soft play area and the related site works, drainage, external services, fixtures and fittings. The total cost of this work has been estimated at over £1.4million.

The committee will also consider a request that the former St Peter’s RC Primary in Dalbeattie be transferred to Birchvale Theatre Group for £1.

The group wish to develop the building as a community arts facility and community hub, incorporating the theatre group, childcare facilities (Dalbeattie Playgroup), and facilities for Dalbeattie Scout Group.

Interest has also been shown in the former Glentrool School by Glentrool and Bargrennan Community Trust to turn the building and surrounding playing field area into a multi-functional community facility.

The Trust have already successfully operated a range of community activities and a Craft gallery from the building since 2011.

Should the asset be transferred the Trust intend to refurbish the building and focus on key areas such as: Celebrating outdoors; Creating Social opportunities; Celebrating the Arts; Supporting their Community. They propose to do this by, for example: Guided walks and stargazing nights; ‘brew and blether’ groups for older people; space for parties and weddings; workshops; film nights; education and learning projects for young people; and health and social care initiatives.

A further community asset transfer is being proposed for the pavilion, changing rooms, garden and car park at Kingholm Park, Dumfries to The Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust again for £1. The plan then would be to convert the building into a Robert the Bruce Visitor Centre, providing an historic educational learning centre and thematic tourist attraction, with an additional condition that required capital funding for the project is secured by the end of December next year.

The committee is also being asked to deem that 52–56 Queensberry Square offices, Dumfries and the Penninghame Centre offices in Newton Stewart are surplus to requirements and should be closed.

The Queensberry Square office currently has the council’s homeless service but it is being recommended that their move to the local authority’s Irish Street offices. This would save £44,000 a year and then the Queensberry Square building would become subject to the council’s disposal process.

The Penninghame Centre currently houses the Social Work Adult Services and Children and Families teams. The latter is due to move to Douglas-Ewart High School this month and the adult services could be moving to Minnigaff Health Centre. The closure would save £20,000 per year and again the Penninghame Centre would go into the disposal process.

Picture: Catherine Street Play Park by Eco Teacher