Dumfries Neighbourhood Street Design - Community empowerment
The Dumfries Neighbourhood Street Design project – led by Sustrans Scotland with Dumfries and Galloway Council and the local community – transformed a once-neglected part of Dumfries town centre into a more liveable, inclusive and active travel-friendly neighbourhood through a collaborative design process.
The project was a response to longstanding concerns over traffic movement in the Queen Street neighbourhood of Dumfries. Rather than starting from the standpoint of design, the project began by asking local people about their place. A variety of engagement methods were used, including competitions, workshops, on-street consultations, guided bike rides, pop-up installations, and a ‘Big Lunch.’
The activities were specifically designed to bring people together, to inspire long term interest in their neighbourhood, to strengthen social connection and empowerment, and to co-design solutions. Sustrans Scotland's aim was to build up trust and learn about the community – getting people out of their houses, meeting their neighbours and bringing them together. This approach achieves far more than better street design: it gives communities a sense of momentum, strengthens them, empowers them, and creates community cohesion, giving them the ability to look at their own place and to do something about it.
Benefits and lessons learned
The collaborative process didn’t only deliver the requisite physical outputs of safer streets and a better environment: it also created a more empowered community. During the project, residents of the area decided to form a constituted community group, DG1 Neighbours, which continues to undertake neighbourhood improvements even after the initial project itself has been completed, such as the creation of a community garden.
Although carried out on a relatively small, neighbourhood-level scale, the conscious decision to use early engagement to generate community benefits at the start of planning a design project is replicable across wider and larger projects.
Find out more
For more information, please visit the Sustrans Scotland website or watch their short video below.