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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Vision of inviting open townscape

AFTER the letters from Bill Telfer and Margaret Sanderson about the Market Place, may I contribute an idea for the possible redevelopment of this general area of the town?

Since the building which traded successfully as The Reiver’s Rest Hotel closed in 2004, there have been a few short-lived attempts to revive it as a business, most recently as the Ellis Deli.

In the current market we have to ask what is the likelihood that it can be brought back into sustainable use before decay makes it financially unviable to do so? There is a real danger that our town could be blighted by yet another long-term derelict eyesore.

The situation could be transformed and the area made an attractive one with which to greet visitors to Langholm. Since the block is for sale in its entirety, the opportunity exists to acquire it, demolish it and create a truly inviting civic space with landscaping and an appreciable number of extra car parking spaces. This would require the will and determination to achieve the necessary funding. As I see it, such a scheme would have many benefits:

There would be a much more impressive visual introduction to the town centre for visitors arriving from the south. There would be a more imposing view of the town hall and Marble Man and it would open up the whole of Parliament Square.

In my opinion, this attractive collection of houses and cottages is currently a wasted asset to the town, hidden away as it is behind an empty and crumbling building. Opened up, I believe the town hall and Parliament Square, with the adjacent Market Place and hotels, would form as good a townscape as is found in many well-known tourist destinations.

A wider and much safer pavement could be provided on that side of the road.

Much-needed additional car parking spaces could be created, which would be several more in number than any lost by partial pedestrianisation of the Market Place as proposed by Bill Telfer.

The very existence of the car park would be made much more obvious. I believe that currently this is another wasted asset.

My guess is that many strangers coming into the town from the south miss the entrance to Parliament Square because they are far too busy concentrating on negotiating The Straits, particularly if they have a forestry wagon heading towards them.

They don’t notice this car park available in the heart of the town and, if they stop at all, they do so on Kilngreen, which is not in the heart of the town.

I fully endorse Margaret Sanderson’s remarks about Langholm’s strength being in the people and groups who work tirelessly for its benefit.

I hope the idea which I have outlined above might be worthy of their consideration.

Alan Williams

Laversdale House

Charles Street

Langholm

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