Growing a new future for Stranraer

Small boy planting seeds as two adults look on
Alan Robertson

People in Stranraer are being invited to have their say on a £5m funding bid to kickstart a radical transformation of the town’s economy, community services and local infrastructure. A draft Place Plan for Stranraer has been published which will shape the development of Stranraer over the next 10 years, and it’s now out for formal consultation. 

The Plan has been informed by an extensive period of community discussion, with more than twenty public meetings and engagement events taking place over a six month period. Community organisations have identified six major projects in need of funding, including taking the East Pier into community ownership, creating a new outdoor nursery and transforming the town centre by improving vacant and derelict properties. Local people in Stranraer are now being asked to rank the proposed projects in order of importance.

Nikki-Marie Vjatschlav, Chair of Stranraer’s Town Team, the collaborative community group that led the Place Plan development, said:

“I made Stranraer my home 9 years ago and I’m passionate about this community. Last year I had the opportunity to work in The Unexpected Garden, a community growing project that models how we can transform the world around us from the grassroots up. That’s what the Place Plan is all about too.

“By listening to what our community needs we have developed a practical and ambitious shared vision that’s going to make such difference. We are now asking everyone in our community to help finalise this funding bid by reading the plan and ranking in order the projects they want to see happen.”

Stranraer is one of five towns in Dumfries & Galloway invited to present a Place Plan to the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, which has just under £15 million of capital funding to allocate. Stranraer is hoping that its ambitious bid will also help to unlock additional funding, including the long promised £6 million fund from the Scottish Government for the redevelopment of Stranraer waterfront.

The draft Place Plan has been published and is open for formal consultation from 2nd to 30th June. The consultation begins with meetings with young people at Stranraer Academy, acknowledging the importance of including the next generation in decision making about the town’s future.

Place Plan Manager Barbara Chalmers said:

“Stranraer has been damaged by decades of economic neglect and hollowed out by the retreat of jobs and services from this community. Funding promised nearly ten years ago has failed to materialise, so there’s a historic debt to this town that needs to be addressed.

“It has been a real privilege to speak with so many people during the consultation for this Place Plan, and the clear consensus about what Stranraer needs was remarkable. Our community wants the loss of healthcare in Stranraer and the Rhins addressed as a matter of urgency, alongside more opportunities for work and enterprise.

“Local people want to see better facilities and services for local families, and they want development that makes the most of our amazing natural environment. Very importantly, the community wants derelict sites fixed, like The George Hotel and the East Pier. Some great progress has been made recently, but there’s still much that needs done.”

The development of the Plan has been managed by a community-led steering group called the Town Team, backed by community organisations including Stranraer Development Trust, Stranraer Millennium Centre, Stranraer Watersports Association, Stranraer Community Council and the Furniture Project. Three regional organisations are supporting the Place Plan process in Stranraer, they are Dumfries & Galloway Council, South of Scotland Enterprise and Third Sector Dumfries & Galloway.

Harry Harbottle, Vice-Chair of Stranraer Watersports Association, and Vice-Chair of the Town Team said:

“Stranraer is the second biggest town in Dumfries & Galloway, yet too often over the years our community has felt left behind and forgotten about. The lack of action on the East Pier is an example of that. This large, visible space at the waterfront entrance to our town is a derelict eyesore that blights our community’s optimism and pride of place.

“The pier dominates conversations about the town, so we are looking forward to using this Place Plan to open fresh conversations with all stakeholders and potential funders about addressing this, as part of a One Waterfront approach. The East Pier could be Stranraer’s greatest asset, but it’s currently our biggest liability. Our community wants to change that. This Place Plan is the opportunity for the whole of Stranraer to rise on a tide of optimism and community collaboration. The community has spoken. Now we need action.”

Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust and a member of the Town Team commented:

“This Place Plan is the real deal. This is our chance to change the story of Stranraer, and to change it together. We have understood the importance of speaking to everyone and listening to everyone. It’s not about what others think Stranraer could have or should have, it’s what locals want and need.

“This has been an energetic, collaborative process. The community has united around the idea of ‘One Vision, One Plan’, a shared ambition and collective understanding of opportunity that has emerged through this Place Planning approach. We are grateful and delighted to have this invitation to unite as a community and it is our absolute intention to deliver for local people.”

The draft Place Plan for Stranraer, and a link to the digital community consultation, can be viewed at and in print in the library. The consultation is being supported by a video of members of the Town Team summarising the purpose of the Plan and why it matters. The video can be viewed on community social media channels, and at

The digital survey can be found here:

A public meeting is being held on the 6th June at the Rugby Club from 6-8pm, the event is free to attend but booking is encouraged at . Public information drop-in sessions are also being held on 8th June at the new Creative Hub (with the mural marking the window) between 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. 

The consultation invites members of the community to rank the following projects in order of priority:

East Pier EventSpace

Take the East Pier into community ownership. Revitalise the site as a unique EventSpace with rail access straight onto the seaside site. Provide infrastructure to support and attract events. Create promenade, piazza and open space for walking, cycling, learn-to-cycle park.

£ 1,500,000 

Dick's Hill Hub

Community Asset Transfer of vacant building in Dick's Hill to grow skills and confidence to support local people into work. Shared community tenancy with HomeStart, Food Futures Lab, Allotments, Health and Wellbeing partners, Community Radio, Royal British Legion, Apex Reablement and more.

£ 300,000 

Sanctuary Outdoor Nursery

The Sanctuary grows children, skills, green-blue life, community. The Nursery supports locals to work by providing childcare. Dumfries & Galloway College provide training qualifications in childcare. Sanctuary nursery provide placements, work experience and jobs in childcare... and delight for children. Learning in line with Curriculum for Excellence.

£ 500,000 

The Big Makeover

Transform town centre facades and public realm. Supplement the town’s Shopfront Improvement Scheme to support the town’s independent shops with colourful paint schemes and awnings over shops; apply decorative vinyls to windows of vacant buildings; commission murals for gap sites and buildings; remove weeds from roofs and facades. Improve wayfinding. Make derelict properties safe. Improve arterial routes into town centre. 

£ 500,000 

Revive: Town Centre Living

Redesign the town centre for mixed use: housing, business and leisure, including ‘meantime opportunities’ for creatives and entrepreneurs in vacant properties. Audit vacant and derelict land and properties. Work with landlords, agents and developers to create opportunities to model change and reanimate the town centre. 

£ 1,000,000 

Wet Weather Escapes

Develop a community-managed wet-weather family leisure offer, eg 10-pin bowling alley/laser tag. Safeguard and upgrade existing leisure venues, infrastructure and facilities including the new Creative Hub trailing the way for the George Hotel. Offer local trades work, placements and skills building to enable long term unemployed to get into work. 

£ 1,200,000