New affordable housing could replace offices in Dalkeith town centre
Proposals to replace a number of office and other buildings owned by Midlothian Council in Dalkeith with new housing, retail and community space are to be considered as part of an initiative to regenerate the town centre.
As a result of the pandemic, the council has seen a transformation in how it works, with many of its staff now working remotely. This has opened up the opportunity to reassess the number of properties the council needs and to look instead at ways of regenerating Dalkeith town centre.
At a meeting of the full council held last week, it was agreed that councillors and the local community should be involved in work to bring forward a deliverable regeneration plan for the area. This could potentially mean repurposing some office buildings for other uses, as well as providing new affordable housing, retail and business premises, and the existing library and arts centre would be included for replacement with a more up-to-date building.
“In common with many businesses and other organisations, the council needs to carefully consider how it will deliver services in the future, and to assess how much office space we will require, given the likelihood that remote working will continue for many,” said council leader, Councillor Derek Milligan. “There is no doubt that this could be an opportunity to regenerate Dalkeith town centre and to provide it with a more vibrant retail sector, new community and business facilities and new affordable homes.”
Councillor Milligan added: “It’s clear that many businesses are now having to look at new ways of working, and we need to plan the right kind of new facilities and support which will help retain and attract new businesses into the town centre.
“We are at a very early stage however, and it is important that we get this right. That’s why it’s vital that local councillors and the local community are involved from the outset, and at every stage of the process.”
More detailed assessment work will now be carried out, and funding options and timescales also considered, prior to a further report being presented to the council later this year.