In November 2018, Dumfries & Galloway Council made the decision to transfer the former Bakers Oven building into community ownership through the Midsteeple Quarter Project. This had been a long journey towards this moment after all the hard work the Midsteeple Quarter have put into the project over the last two years, and were thrilled that the members of the Council saw the potential in their ideas for this building; the first building block of the Midsteeple Quarter town centre regeneration project.
The Midsteeple Quarter Project aims to take ownership of a group of disused buildings on Dumfries High Street, with The Oven being the first of these buildings identified as a site for this bold initiative that will see local people developing their own High Street as a contemporary living, working, socialising, learning and enterprising hub. The plans are to develop the site into seven new flats which will be available to rent. The street level space will be used as an enterprise space for start-up businesses and social enterprise, as well as continuing the use of the space for charities and third sector organisations. Midsteeple Quarter are also looking at the ground floor as a meeting and makers space which has the flexibility to be used for events, exhibitions, music events and much more!
The building work for the conversion is unlikely to begin until at least Autumn 2019. In the mean time, the space on the ground floor has already been upgraded and an exciting programme of events will take place over the summer which includes pop-up activities and workshops as well as the continued use of the space for charities and local groups as mentioned. The upgraded space marks the beginning of a new era for The Oven, and groups using the space will be asked to contribute to the upkeep of the venue in order to make the venue sustainable for everybody.
The project is led by a diverse and grassroots community collaboration working in partnership with cross- party MSPS and MPs, Higher Education Institutions, the Local Authority and National Agencies, The University of the West of Scotland, Third Sector D&G, Loreburne Community Council, NHS Dumfries & Galloway, D&G Council and Crichton Institute.