Langholm’s ‘old police station’ community-led housing project shortlisted for 2021 Surf Award
The community-led restoration of the Category B listed former Police Station in Langholm is one of three projects shortlisted in the Housing and Regeneration category of this year’s SURF Awards.
The shortlisting reflects the partnership between community organisation The Eskdale Foundation and South of Scotland Community Housing (SOSCH).
The Eskdale Foundation, a charitable community organisation in Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway, has completed the restoration of a former police station to provide four community-owned affordable homes.
The project, delivered in partnership with South of Scotland Community Housing - working alongside a design team led by John Gilbert Architects - has restored the high-profile empty town centre property to its former glory, including reinstatement of unique features.
The “Old Police Station”, which had been empty and disused for approximately 15 years, has been converted into four affordable homes for rent which are now occupied by residents with a local connection to Langholm.
SOSCH have worked in support of Eskdale Foundation over a period of five years in order to plan the project and secure a funding package for the painstaking restoration of the building. This work identified affordable housing as a key priority within a town that has faced significant economic challenge, contributing to the resilience and future sustainability of the local community and supporting other regeneration efforts.
The project has been supported throughout by Dumfries and Galloway Council, including agreement to transfer ownership of the property to Eskdale Foundation via Community Asset Transfer and capital funding support via their Town Centre Living Fund (ringfenced income from Council Tax on Second Homes).
The planning and delivery of the project has also been supported by funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund, Scottish Land Fund, South of Scotland Enterprise, Architectural Heritage Fund and local windfarm community benefit funds.
The redevelopment of the property was overseen by John Gilbert Architects, leading on a wider professional design team, and delivered by Cubby Construction.
The overall team and partnership approach has been integral to successful delivery and securing the specific skills require to repurpose this unusual property as warm, safe, secure homes.
The finished project has delivered bright, welcoming spaces which preserve the fabric and history of the building, making the most of unusual features – for example bathroom installation in one of the carefully restored and listed police cells.
Community Organisation, Eskdale Foundation, already had a track record in community-led affordable housing, owning and managing homes for older residents within the nearby Greenbank Development. The knowledge and confidence already developed by the group has encouraged their commitment to secure and restore the Old Police Station as a much needed community asset for the town of Langholm.
The project has been shortlisted as one of three within the Housing and Regeneration category of this year’s SURF Awards. The award ceremony will take place in Glasgow on 9th December 2021. The project partners would like to congratulate all other shortlisted projects and organisations.
Mike Staples, chief executive at South of Scotland Community Housing, said: “We’re delighted that the SURF judging panel has recognised the unique nature of this project by shortlisting it in the Housing and Regeneration category. The heritage and restoration aspects of the building made for a challenging project, but we feel that strong partnership and stakeholder support throughout has ensured delivery, with four sets of tenants now benefiting from bright, welcoming, warm, safe and secure homes. The repurposing of empty buildings as energy efficient community-led housing is a great contributor to Net Zero and we welcome the support of the Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund to enable this type of project.”
Ronnie Tait, director of The Eskdale Foundation, added: “The Eskdale Foundation over the last 25 years has always worked hard to put the needs and aspirations of the community at the heart of what it tries to achieve and the restoration of the former police station is just an instance of what The Eskdale Foundation has achieved restoring a building which had been empty for 12 years and making it into 4 affordable high quality flats. This is something The Eskdale Foundation can be rightly proud of and we are delighted to be shortlisted in this year’s prestigious SURF awards in the Housing and Regeneration category.”
Scott Abercrombie, associate director at John Gilbert Architects, commented: “We are delighted to see these flats completed and the benefits they bring to the community of Langholm. Saving this listed building has been a complicated but worthwhile process, that preserves and brings new life to this prominent site.
“The cells have been retained as a quirky addition to the ground floor flat and a reminder of the building’s story and heritage. Working with Eskdale Foundation, SOSCH and Cubby Construction has been a pleasure and resulted in robust, warm new homes.”