The group recently took on the former Pick ‘N’ Save building at Eskdail Court, the culmination of four years of hard work liaising with the local community to find out what they want to see in the town.
One Dalkeith was launched in 2015 on the back of the Advertiser’s ‘Give Us a Hub’ campaign, calling for the county’s administrative centre to have a building for the local community to use.
Douglas Strachan from the group, which was registered as a charity last year, is now calling on people to help decide what their new home will deliver for the town.
He said: “We spent a couple of years having community conversations and consultations to see what the trust should focus on, with the hub plan proving very important.
“We need members of the community to step-up now to make that happen. At the public meeting there was discussion groups and the central message that came up about community facilities was not to opt for a shiny new place, and not to wait for the town centre regeneration but that we should press for a community-owned facility in an existing building in the town centre.
“So since then the board and volunteers have been looking around various different premises. Then a couple of months ago we secured the lease on this building. It’s a big deal. It’s following through on what we were set-up to do.”
Douglas has been delighted with the community’s response to the proposed hub at Eskdail Court, with around 20-30 local people helping to renovate the building. Assistance has also come from the local community payback team and Newbattle Abbey College.
He added: “Since we have had the building people are just turning up and joining in. Rolling up their sleeves and getting involved. It has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We have taken it from a shell to where we are almost at a point where we can use it. That’s entirely on DIY effort.
“Hopefully, in a couple more weeks, the building will be in use.”
The group also had a window cleaner clean the windows and a roofer is set to do the roof, both free of charge. “All for the benefit of the community,” said Douglas.
With the building in their possession, One Dalkeith must now come up with a business plan to make it sustainable while benefiting the local community. Douglas added: “It’s really exciting. Having spent so long to get to this position, to have a community hub in our grasp, it’s just really exciting.
“We just want to get a critical mass of the community to keep it running so we can enhance the community with these facilities that the town has been wanting for so many years. It’s important and symbolic that it is community-run and is in the town centre.
“It’s quite big, but it needs to be the size that it is to sub-let parts of it, to use the rest of the building for the community. So it’s quite lucky that this big building is immediately in the centre of the town.
“It’s not free so we need a business model to make it work. ome of the space will be let out similar to what other community groups have done, like in Gorebridge at the Beacon.
“I think it will be a gradual soft start. We are certainly hoping to use it on May 8 for our AGM. But we hope to use it in some way before then. The lease is for six months up to July. So we have got until then to come up with a business case to take it forward.”
To get involved email Evelyn on [email protected] to find out more.