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Monthly News Bulletin

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Neighbourhood Renewal Project Delay

A PRIME SITE targeted for a multi-million pound neighbourhood renewal project might not be coming on the market until the New Year at least three months later than expected.

And when it does Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP) face stiff competition from three other private investors also eyeing-up the site.

In a new report submitted to the council, DGHP looks to have pinned its hopes on land behind the Glebe Cemetery in South Stranraer coming on the market in October.

But the landowners, the Church of Scotland, say the land will probably not go on sale until early 2008. DGHP is currently scrambling for land, which it needs for the second phase of regeneration project.

More than one hundred households are due to move out of the condemned homes in the Dick's Hill area into new homes as part of a housing redevelopment scheme. But if the social landlord cannot buy land by a deadline in March, set by the council and housing watchdog Communities Scotland, these tenants will face uncertainty over moving.

Early this year DGHP's bid to buy a site in Moorefield fell through after being outbid by a private developer.

And, according to the Church of Scotland, several other private investors are also interested in the site, which means purchasing the land at the very last minute is not certain.

DGHP spokesman Mick Higgins said his organisation was now aware that the land would not be on the market this month. He said: "The target date for securing the acquisition of a second site in Stranraer is March, 2008, which was agreed with all the Neighbourhood Renewal partners DGHP, the council and Communities Scotland.  If this is not possible within the target timescale the partners may need to consider re-phasing the plans for Stranraer."

DGHP's progress with the  redevelopment plan is currently under scrutiny of councillors who are set to meet with housing Watchdog Communities Scotland to discuss the social landlord's performance.

Stranraer councillor Willie Scobie, a fierce critic of DGHP, has hit out at what he sees is an inability to negotiate for land for phase two.

Mr Scobie has also claimed the timeline of phase one at Ailsa Gate has slipped behind the agreed timeline, causing uncertainty for hundreds of people. He said: "When will the tenants be decanted and move in? What's the timeline? Why has there been so little progress in Ailsa Gate?"

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