Old Luce Development Trust was formed to implement the action plan from a community consultation undertaken in 2015 on behalf of Old Luce Community Council. Triggered by new windfarm funding coming in to the area, the consultation aimed to engage the whole community to identify ways to improve the social and economic outcomes within the area. One of four priority areas identified in the survey was to improve the appearance of the village, particularly the Main Street, to restore pride in the community. Another was to provide a focus within the village, with the previous village ‘square’ now a car parking area, part of a wider aim to provide places where people could meet, improving the wellbeing of residents through reduced isolation and loneliness and an enhanced sense of community.
At a further open meeting with over 50 attendees, the top suggestion, significantly ahead of the second, was the purchase and development of 21 Main Street, Glenluce. Formerly a café and takeaway, the building was demolished following a fire and the area became a gap site, with scrub vegetation at the rear of the site and weeds growing through the hardcore at the ground level.
The project aimed to create a village square, improving the appearance of the village and creating that focus and meeting place for residents and visitors.
A grant was secured from Old Luce Community Fund (OLCF) to purchase the site, which completed in 2017. Volunteers cleared the site of the scrub vegetation and weed growth in July of that year. Funding was then secured from OLCF to develop the site and architectural plans commissioned.
In May 2019, a further OLCF grant was awarded for the construction. Unfortunately, delays on starting the work, due to revised plans and staffing shortages for the contractor were significant, with work beginning on site in late 2019. Sadly, this delay took the construction period into the pandemic lockdown period in 2020.
Nevertheless, significant progress was made on the village square in 2020/21, despite site closures during lockdowns, delays in materials and legislative changes requiring an alternative drainage solution to that originally planned. The site was handed over from the construction company in November 2021.
The delays and amendments led to an overspend on the project and further funds were required to complete the work. This was minimised due to the use of volunteers, who spent the winter months installing benches, filling planters with donated soil (from the volunteers) and planting, which took place in spring 2022.
The site was available to the public from the handover in November 2021 and saw immediate use with residents gathering there, even before the benches were installed. One of the village’s longest standing residents officially opened the square, as part of the village Jubilee celebrations and hopefully the first of many such events.
Supporting StatementCommunity Involvement, Benefit and Impact:
Improvement of this gap site was identified as the top priority following community consultation. All decisions were made at Trust meetings, with the board made up of volunteer Directors elected to represent the membership. The community was kept informed, and provided opportunity for feedback, through social media, public meetings and newsletters. Volunteers cleared overgrowth, donated soil and filled planters, installed benches and planted up. The primary school will care for the small planter at the front of the square, providing educational opportunities.
On opening to the public, following construction handover, the square was immediately used by residents to meet up. Whilst we had anticipated small gatherings of residents, perhaps resting whilst out walking, the proximity of the site to the village hall has provided an expanded celebratory space for events. The square has made a transformative difference to community gatherings. Where previously these were confined to the village hall opposite and the road outside, the square has provided an expanded space, safer for families away from the road and with outdoor seating provision for those unable to stand. The Jubilee celebration demonstrated its full potential, with bands playing on a terrace, children performing, large attendance and catering vans nearby, it felt a special moment for the community.
Social media comments include:
“The planting has been well thought out and every time I pass I love seeing the colours. It was so nice, my son and his new wife took pictures on their wedding day. It's an inspiring place.” [June Russell]
“It really is a beautiful space.” [Victoria Jayne Allman]
“Really enjoyed the planting this morning, sun was hot and lovely to meet new people.” [Jane Corrigan]
“Great addition to the village. Something to be proud of.” [Mick Bird]
“Well done everyone involved for giving up your free time to help make our community a better place. I love it and appreciate all your hard work. Xx” [Caroline Ann Heron]
Build Design and Quality:
The size of the square is appropriate for a village of fewer than 600 residents. The installation of large planters throughout the site has maintained the green space. The planting scheme has been designed for year round colour and the flowers are enjoyed by many bees, butterflies and birds. The design allows for surface water from the terraces to run into the planters, reducing the need for additional watering.
Preservation or Enhancement of the Local Built Environment:
The project has replaced an unsightly site with a tranquil space. The stone finishing and oak rotunda reflect the historical material of the surrounding buildings and former village name of Ballinclach, whilst the glass and metal furnishings provide a modern contrast. The Trust hopes to replicate this oak structure on its other sites providing coherence across our projects.
Achievements of the Project:
The project successfully overcame the challenges of project delays, contractor issues, Covid interruptions and the resulting materials shortages. Budgetary issues were dealt with through both additional funding and increased volunteering.