This page features information on the SURF Alliance for Action programme site of Langholm in Dumfries & Galloway. The town was an Alliance for Action site between 2018-22.
To maximise productive value from its Alliance for Action programme, SURF seeks to ensure that there is a balanced portfolio of places in the programme. This selected range of contacts is intended to provide transferable lessons to comparable settings and activities in the rest of Scotland, from high-density city neighbourhoods to small island towns.
In 2017, SURF and the Scottish Government agreed that the programme could benefit from the addition of a semi-rural site in the south of Scotland.
Subsequent conversations between SURF and Dumfries & Galloway Council indicated that the small town of Langholm in the east of its region might present a good opportunity for SURF to explore opportunities for responding to contemporary post-industrial challenges in a relatively isolated, rural town context.
SURF agreed to undertake a six month feasibility study in Langholm, between September 2017 and March 2018, to explore its regeneration-related challenges and opportunities, and the suitability for introducing the Alliance for Action model there.
2017-18 Feasibility Study
SURF’s Alliance for Action feasibility study in Langholm had five stages:
Stage 1 – Project Scoping: including work planning, information gathering, initial stakeholder engagements and a public workshop event.
Stage 2 – Research: further exploring the local context, including through the production of a statistical profile and a review of current and proposed local projects.
Stage 3 – Developing Alliance Options: engaging further with local stakeholders to investigate Alliance for Action model viability and opportunities.
Stage 4 – Report and Recommendations: testing Alliance for Action development options with potential users, clarifying deliverability and presenting a draft report to local stakeholders.
Stage 5 – Completion: establishing a process for delivering an Alliance for Action strategy in Langholm, pending stakeholder and partner agreement.
A detailed feasibility study plan is available for download:
November 2017 Public Gathering
As part of the above process, SURF organised a public event in Langholm’s Buccleuch Centre on the evening of 23 November 2017 to conclude Stage 1 of the feasibility study.
Thirty participants representing community groups, businesses and public agencies were in attendance to hear explanatory information from SURF and to contribute their views on the town’s regeneration challenges and opportunities, and the potential of Langholm becoming part of SURF’s Alliance for Action programme.
The main subjects raised in open debate concerned:
- Langholm’s economy;
- Opportunities for promoting tourism;
- The town’s relationship with Dumfries & Galloway, the Scottish Borders and Cumbria;
- Land ownership and use;
- Housing and infrastructure;
- Community empowerment;
- The role SURF might play in supporting the town’s future development.
An outcomes report from this event is available for download:
Feasibility Study – Final Report
The feasibility study recommended that Langholm would benefit practically from becoming a full Alliance for Action site for the 2018-21 programme period.
The Langholm feasibility study process concluded in May 2018. A final report was presented to local stakeholders in a public meeting in the Buccleuch Centre and is available for download at the following link:
2018-22: Local Facilitation
The response to the feasibility study indicated widespread local demand for Langholm to become the fifth Alliance for Action programme area.
In Autumn 2018, SURF appointed Peter Renwick as its part-time Langholm Facilitator to support local development activity. Peter, who has a background in project management, arts programming, town centre development and tourism marketing, was in position until August 2021.
The Langholm Facilitator vacancy was filled by Mairi Telford-Jammeh, who was appointed in September 2021. Mairi’s previous roles include Partnership Officer in Dumfries & Galloway Council. The support Mairi provided to local stakeholders was informed by the outcomes of the feasibility study, and additional stakeholder consultations in summer 2021, which identified tourism and the town centre as priority development areas. Mairi’s contract with SURF concluded at the end of June 2022, when the site exited the Alliance for Action programme with a positive legacy.
An independent evaluation by Iconic Consulting of Alliance for Action activity in Langholm was positive. It cited evidence of the initiative meeting its key aim of delivering practical regeneration outcomes for the town, and in strenghtening community resilience.
The evaluation highlighted the achievement of the Community Action Plan (see item below) and delivery of actions in key themes including tourism, heritage and economic development. It noted SURF’s positive involvement in supporting the community buyout of Langholm Moor and Tarras Valley, in convening the ‘Explore Langholm and Eskdale’ tourism group, in securing funding for, and managing, a £60k Shopfront Improvement Programme, and in sharing information through regular newsletters and social media.
SURF continues to provide light touch support to local groups.
2020-30: Langholm Community Action Plan
SURF and the Scottish Community Development Centre supported local community groups to undertake two years of research and consultation and produce a Langholm Community Action Plan. The Plan builds on themes explored in SURF’s feasibility study, and sets out the community’s goals over 2020-30 in areas includiing infrastructure, heritage, tourism and health. It was launched in November 2019. Since then, SURF has been working closely with the Langholm Alliance and other stakeholders on progress towards priorities in tourism and town centre development.
For information on other SURF Alliance for Action sites, please click on the left hand menu bar links under Resources > Programmes > Alliance for Action.