Community Fight Back Against High Street Absentee Landlords To Continue

Dumfries’ Midsteeple Quarter were upbeat despite failing in their attempt to buy two High Street buildings for the community at an auction in London today. The fantastic response to their Crowdfunding campaign and the positive support from the town and further afield has taken everyone by surprise.

Matt Baker, Project Director for Midsteeple Quarter, commented: “It’s been unbelievable – we’ve raised over £21,000 in small donations in less than 2 weeks, from members of the public in Dumfries and beyond.”

“It’s hugely disappointing that we lost out today, but this was always going to be a long haul and we can’t expect to win every game. The essential facts haven’t changed – we need to re-imagine our town centre as a place with a mixed offer of housing, enterprise space, services and leisure. We really feel like this tide is starting to turn and Dumfries is at the leading edge of this change.”

The group asked fellow citizens to respond to their emergency request to come together, as a town, and bid take 113-119 High Street back into community ownership and challenge the cycle of property speculation. The properties were placed in an auction sale by Pension Fund Columbia Threadneedle, they form part of the group of High Street buildings within the community-led Midsteeple Quarter regeneration project for the town centre.

Local Community Benefit Society, Midsteeple Quarter was recently granted money from the Scottish Land Fund to prepare plans and negotiate with the London-based pension fund for a community buy-out of 113-119 High Street. Without any warning, a high-level decision within the pension fund was taken to dump a number of their derelict Scottish commercial buildings at the auction taking place in London – their buildings in Dumfries.

The bidding took place in London on Tuesday 5th February. The auction for 113-119 High Street escalated very quickly and was in excess of £100,000 in less than 3 minutes. An unknown phone bidder is now the new owner of these buildings, which sold for £142,000.

Matt Baker further commented: “The fight is not over. We have a dream and nothing has changed in that – culture shift does not happen overnight. We’re in it for the long haul. We’d love to talk to the new owner – maybe they share our Dumfries dream and we can work together.”

You can find more about the Midsteeple Quarter project here: