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Regeneration Project Delays

A MULTI-million pound Stranraer neighbourhood regeneration project is facing new lengthy delays after a failure to buy essential land for housing.

Up to 100 Stranraer households, due to move into new homes as part of the £65 million regeneration scheme by Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP), now face fresh uncertainty over the timescale of the switch

The social landlord has this week admitted it might not be able to buy a site large enough to house tenants moving out of condemned homes in Dick's Hill as part of phase two by a deadline of March next year.

The DGHP regeneration director James Shirazi said efforts were ongoing to buy suitable land. But, he confirmed if land could not be secured, an alternative plan would have to be drawn up. Mr Shirazi said:

"If a site could not be found we would have to revaluate the phasing of Dick’s Hill regeneration.

"The worst scenario would be instead of carrying it out in two phases it would take three smaller ones."

That would mean the process would take longer — although he said DGHP had not yet worked out the lengths of delays. Originally, they expected to have the phase two houses completed by the end of 2008.

In the last nine months DGHP tried to secure a site in Moorefield near King George V Playing Fields, but that fell through.

Other sites it looked at were by the Galloway Community Hospital, Nursery Avenue, and land behind Glebe Cemetery.

Councillor Willie Scobie said he feared DGHP lacked the negotiating ability necessary to secure the land. He said:

"There are many sites in Stranraer that they could have looked at and its up to DGHP to secure them.

"This is a £65 million project — the biggest development in Dumfries and Galloway.

"We have got to be confident that DGHP meets the agreed timelines."

Mr Scobie said DGHP were already behind schedule with the building of houses for phase one at Ailsa Gate.

And he said that he was going to be discussing DGHP's performance with Community Scotland, the watchdog that monitors social housing.

"It's a total embarrassment," he said.

"We need to have a serious meeting to determine whether DGHP has got the right expertise."

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