Dunfermline leading the way in community action for its town centre

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Dunfermline is the latest Scottish town to see the local community launching action to re-generate their town centre. From Wednesday 25 to Sunday 29 April, local residents will be leading Design Dunfermline 2018, an intensive ‘charrette' process to create a design-led, shared vision for their town centre. Design Dunfermline is one of a number of places to secure Making Places funding as part of the Scottish Government's nationwide Place Making strategy.Sam Foster, the local architect guiding the design process said: "Town centres face massive challenges in the current climate. There is a recognition that cash-strapped Councils on their own can't ‘fix' town centres.  "As a community we need, and want to take responsibility for our town - this is local democracy in action and Fife Council is very keen to support this way of working. Nationwide organisations like the Scottish Community Alliance are campaigning for bottom-up decision making by communities across the country."The Carnegie UK Trust research at the end of 2017 found that, while, there are well-developed policies designed to progress cities and rural areas, and often powerful groups working on their behalf, towns are a neglected area of public policy in the UK. Dunfermline recently benefitted from a community project which led to the creation of the successful arts hub, Fire Station Creative. At the end of last year, the community also launched the annual Outwith Arts Festival - both were community led, but with substantial help from Fife Council. The award-winning Richard Murphy-designed Library and Galleries opened in 2016 thanks to the vision and investment from Fife Council, the Carnegie Trust and Fife Cultural Trust, along with the contribution from a large number of local volunteers.  Sam explained the potential outcomes of this week's event: "We've seen these charrettes lead to local community groups leveraging funding from national funds, and the private sector to progress capital projects. In Prestwick they're looking at funding to revive their town centre cinema, while Tranent applied for funding to undertake a significant conservation project.""When these community projects are successful, they galvanise more participation. In Rotterdam, the city has witnessed community participation progress from one campaign to save local libraries in 2011 to an estimated 1.300 civic projects today."  The four-day event will look at how Dunfermline's exceptional heritage can be used to aid growth, attract visitors and better serve the community.  As ancient capital of Scotland, Dunfermline has heritage assets, that, until now, have been underplayed in the tourism market. This presents opportunities in regeneration - once again the community is leading the way - with volunteer Peter Wilson, starting a shuttle service and tours to encourage cruise passengers to visit Dunfermline.  The Design Dunfermline 2018 sessions are being held at the City Chambers and the award-winning Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries on; Wednesday 25 April, Thursday 26 April, Friday 27 April and Sunday 29 April. Participants will be invited to suggest and consider a number of projects, at least one of which will be prioritised to progress to a business plan and fundraising strategy. Underused historic buildings will be in the spotlight and a former Registry Office building in the historic area is just one of the examples that might be considered for development.Sam Foster has assembled a team that includes architect Oliver Chapman and well-known Scottish urban designer from Glasgow University, Kevin Murray, The team has substantial experience of running similar events in other parts of Scotland.  The event is financed with awards from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government Making Places Fund.  Fife Council is championing the event and the team will be working closely with the Council to synchronise with their activity such as Dunfermline's Development Framework and the Community Plan. The Community Plan has been facilitated by Fife Council but has been created by community groups.  Design Dunfermline 2018 is the launch event that will help inform a three-year heritage programme that has secured funding of over £300,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government. The total funding package including partner contributions amounts to £444,410. To book a place at one or more of the sessions go to http://designdunfermline2018.eventbrite.com Details of the event and more information is on the website at www.dunfermline.com Follow us on FaceBook @DesignDunfermline2018Twitter is @Dunfermline2018