SNP South Scotland MSP Emma Harper, following a fire at the former rubber Factory last night (7 June) at the entry to Dumfries from Glasgow, Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland, has called for urgent action from Dumfries and Galloway Council to regenerate the grade B listed building to make practical use of it, to improve its attractiveness and practicality to Dumfries residents and visitors.

The building has three storeys and consists of a main spine building with a series of four wings to the rear of the main symmetrical elevation which fronts the A701. It was built in the 1920’s and was closed in the late 1990’s for economic reasons, before the Gates company moved to a newer factor within the Heathhall area of Dumfries. Since closing, the building has gradually deteriorated and the South Scotland MSP has now said that, following the fire, long overdue action must now be taken to do something with it on the grounds of safety, of improving the local areas and of improving the attractiveness of Dumfries.

Ms Harper, who wrote to Dumfries and Galloway Council shortly after her election in May regarding the building, is now hosting a community meeting with residents of the areas surrounding the abandoned factory – Locharbriggs and Heathhall – to discuss where plans to regenerated the building, and its land, are at and to discuss what they would like to see done with the building. Ms Harper has invited D&G Council representatives to attend the meeting and she will be writing to local residents, community groups and community councils. The meeting is set to take place on Sunday the 11 July via Zoom.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“Firstly, I want to thank the emergency services for their professionalism in dealing with the fire at the former rubber factory at the Gateway to Dumfries on the A710. However, this factory has lay empty since the late 1990’s and action to address its continued dilapidation is now long over-due. This action must be taken in the interests of safety, of improving the attractiveness of Dumfries and to make good use of the land for a practical purpose for the local community.

“I understand that the building is Grade B listed which means that part of it may still need to stay to honour its historical significance. However, this does not mean that it should stay derelict – we have seen from other examples across Scotland that listed buildings can be turned into useful community assets for many different reasons such as leisure facilities, affordable and social housing and even for green space. I also understand that some of the land attached to the building is to be used for house building and I am seeking further information on this.

“I am calling on Dumfries and Galloway Council to take whatever action they can to ensure the building is safe and to turn it into a useful community asset for a purpose which the local community can get behind. I am holding a meeting for the local community, which I hope the council will attend, on Sunday the 11 July via Zoom and I will write to local residents of Heathhall and Locharbriggs with details. I will also post these on my social media.

“Now, given the fire last night, is the time for long overdue action and I would encourage the local community to become involved and join me in taking these calls forward.”