The Dunbar Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) launched this week, with over £1million of funding to improve the historic town centre.

The project has been developed by East Lothian Council and the local community and is funded by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Dunbar CARS will focus on a range of heritage and conservation based regeneration activities within the town centre until 2027. The scheme will offer grant aid towards appropriate repair works to traditional buildings in private ownership as well as supporting complementary initiatives such as traditional skills training community heritage projects, to increase awareness and understanding of the town’s rich heritage and the care and maintenance of its traditional buildings.

The scheme will also undertake a combination of larger, priority building repair projects to properties identified through consultation with the community as having a detrimental impact on the town centre. The current priority building repair projects include the former Lothian Hotel at 50-54 High Street and the former Value Shop at 86-88 High Street.

The Dunbar scheme follows on from other successful projects in Haddington, Tranent and, most recently, Cockenzie.

Councillor John McMillan, East Lothian Council’s Cabinet Spokesperson for Environment, Economic Development and Tourism, said: “Dunbar town centre is rich in history, with its Town House and John Muir’s Birthplace being just two stand-out examples of its wonderful heritage. I’m delighted that Dunbar is the next East Lothian town to benefit from exert help and funding from another joint project between the council, local community and HES. This regeneration scheme will be of huge benefit to property owners and local residents and, of course, will help to enhance the visitor experience for tourists to the town, boosting the town’s economy.”

Susan O’Connor, Head of Grants at HES, said: “We’re pleased to see this work begin in Dunbar. Our grants have a key role to play to help ensure that Scotland’s historic environment can continue to be maintained, cared for and promoted for generations to come, with grants helping to deliver funding at a local level meaning communities like Dunbar can make the most of their heritage assets. While the physical effects to town centres and buildings are impressive, it is also the many secondary benefits funding brings that have other meaningful and long-lasting effects, such as attracting investment, helping the climate through retrofit of existing building stock, jobs and tourism."

Expressions of interest from property owners for potential repair projects are now invited. The deadline for applications for the first round of funding is Friday 24th February 2023. Future rounds of funding will be advertised in due course.

A free Dunbar CARS introduction event will take place on Wednesday 15th February in the Community Room of Dunbar Townhouse from 5.30pm. Anyone interested in the scheme is invited to come along to hear more about the grants on offer and the complimentary activity that will be taking place. Places are limited therefore advance booking is advisable via eventbrite or by contacting the CARS team by email at

The aim of the scheme is to work with the local community to secure the historic built fabric for the future, undertake community engagement and education activities and deliver high quality professional training and upskilling opportunities – all of which will contribute to sustainable economic and community development within the Conservation Area and Dunbar as a whole.

For further information on Dunbar CARS or to enquire about property repair grant funding through the scheme please contact


Published: Friday, 27th January 2023