Community Buyout Update

Very many thanks to everyone who has indicated their support for our proposed community buyout of the former Bank of Scotland branch at 95 High Street, Dunbar over recent weeks. The paper petition that was available in local shops and elsewhere was signed by around 250 supporters and our online survey seeking opinions and ideas for future use of the premises has received 503 responses of which 92% (463) support a community buy-out. 

Unfortunately, we have not been able to proceed with registering a ‘community right to buy’ with the Scottish Government as we originally intended. It has become clear that this legislation and route to community ownership is almost impossible for a community in our situation to make use of. This is because of the Scottish Government’s insistence that online signatures can’t be used as evidence of support -which seems bizarre when digital signatures are now used so routinely. Also, the timescales for considering a registration application mean that there simply isn’t time to collect evidence of the the required level of support before the Bank of Scotland plan to put the property on the market. 

However, far from giving up, we still hope to succeed in bringing the premises into community ownership as a community-owned and run coworking and local enterprise centre and the level of support demonstrated can only help in achieving this.

Our preferred option is to arrange a short-term lease whilst we negotiate a private sale directly with the Bank of Scotland. If that fails, we still hope that we may be able to purchase the property on the open market. 

We are therefore pressing ahead with developing our business plan so that we can seek to source funding from the Scottish Land Fund and elsewhere. This will be informed by the responses to the survey, through which many people have contributed their ideas for future use of the premises. Many people have also indicated a strong interest in making use of the proposed facilities. 

In outline, our vision remains to create a vibrant coworking and local enterprise hub in Dunbar town centre that will provide office and meeting space for local people and groups and will bring more people and business to the High Street. Our intention is for a particular focus on supporting and incubating new projects and enterprises that help to build a more localised, low-carbon economy that supports wellbeing for all. We believe that such a facility is a vital part of the infrastructure that all communities will need in a low-carbon future.