If you are a commercial organisation why are you renting and buying the properties though a Trust?
We're not. All the properties are being bought or rented through Truerlein. There is no commercial link between Truerlein and the Trust other than the support that Truerlein provides to the Trust through free access to consultants and expertise. There are a number of other voluntary organisations that are taking advantage of this as well.
Is this a BID (Business Improvement District scheme) model?
No. Our model is unique and based around getting people into enterprise and business, with the correct level of support and longevity.
Note: a BID model is a Businesses Improvement District scheme where there is a levy to pay for support (either to develop the town or an aspect of the town).
At no point now or in the future will any individual or any business be compelled to pay any money into this model. The whole thing is funded entirely by Truerlein with investment that we are bringing to the table.
What is your agenda in coming to Dufftown? We hear you’re turning it into Aviemore.
We haven’t come to Dufftown, we live in Dufftown. We are processing a unique business model through Dufftown first as the model project, which means that if we do get Government funding, Dufftown will directly benefit first.
It is easier to roll out this project and business model as we live in the town but we are working with two other towns to show how the model can scale up and down.
What is the National Demonstration Project status you mentioned?
National demonstration projects come through Government and the funding is allocated direct to the project awarded. There are a number of demonstration projects that have run over the last couple of years, e.g. in sustainability and energy.
We are being evaluated as the business model for regeneration. There’s been a lot of research and development over the last few years but it rarely gets to implementation stage so there’s no delivery or actual community benefit. It’s been identified on some of the larger commercial projects that it can be better to have businesses leading such an initiative.
We are not the only people looking at this challenge. There are a number of organisations looking at the same idea but we’re ahead of the rest in terms of our project development so we were put forward to be considered a development project for urban regeneration.
According to Phil Prentice, Chief Officer, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Dufftown: a New Dawn is, “An innovative and holistic regeneration project, creating a compelling place brand, led by a local and commercially experienced team, engaging stakeholders and the community could provide us with a unique solution to many similar towns across Scotland.”
How has the coronavirus (Covid-19) affected the plans and the project?
The Coronavirus has actually given us more time to research and develop the project, which might have been more difficult under normal circumstances.
We’ve also ensured that the design work done for the hospitality businesses work within the context of the lockdown restrictions and beyond so if the worst should happen and we’re forced back into another lockdown, the businesses will be able to adapt very rapidly.
It’s also meant unfortunately that the process of consultation has been more challenging but we hope that as we come out of lockdown, we will be able to arrange more face-to-face consultation and for those of us who aren’t residents of Dufftown to visit a little more regularly!
How are you ensuring that the locals get a share of the opportunity?
We are now working on a town master plan which is a fairly substantial document which has to look at all aspects of the town. We will then put it out to public consultation as it progresses but first we need to pull together the skeleton of the document. This is a completely transparent process and will require community involvement and input in order for it to be successful.
In terms of the businesses being launched by Truerlein, we are actively reaching out to any businesses who could consider the new enterprises as competitive, to ensure that what we launch is complementary, rather than competitive to their operations.
Aside from helping local people get into business in a way that’s as low risk to them as possible, we are also prioritising working with local tradespeople wherever possible for any of the work that’s needed, and helping to develop the skills of local people through training, apprenticeships and links to colleges and other educational groups.
In order to make this project a success, we need to bring people on the journey with us and will be doing more through townhalls, webinars and 1:1 meetings as Covid restrictions allow.
You mentioned gifting shares as part of the business model. Will you give people the option to buy Truerlein out so they own the business 100%?
Yes. As the business is established and becomes profitable over its first few years, we will gift the individual up to 49% ownership of their business. After an agreed period, the individual will have the option to buy Truerlein’s remaining shareholding in order to own their business outright.
The time period will be flexible, based on the needs and performance of that business. Everything is geared towards long-term success and profitability so by the time we step away, the business will be well-established and thriving, without the need for close ongoing support.
A rough estimate for this timeframe would be 4-6 years but again, this will depend on the needs of the business and the individual.
Is Dr Peter Bye-Jensen planning a heritage centre for you?
We are incredibly excited to welcome Dr. Peter Bye-Jensen to the Truerlein team, however he has not joined us to develop a heritage centre. Dr. Bye-Jensen has joined us to ensure that we are respecting and taking the heritage of the town into account across the entire project. He will be engaging directly with the local community to discover Dufftown’s stories and local heritage in more depth and work within the team to ensure the history and heritage of Dufftown is encapsulated into the built environment.
What will be the first businesses to launch from the list you shared?
The Lunchbox is now staffed and we are targeting to be open in May 2021 with the staff joining before that for inductions, training, working on menus etc. We will be sharing more of the plans for the other businesses over the coming weeks at the appropriate time.
How will you change the Butcher when you take over from Gordon?
We're not looking to change the butcher. Gordon is part of the fabric of the community but has been looking to retire and sell his shop for the last four years – without success. We think we have come up with a way that will allow him to start enjoying his retirement but we are working closely with him and he’s supporting us 100%. We are currently advertising for a skilled, traditional Master Butcher who can continue Gordon’s work of training the next generation of butchers and meet the high standards he’s set over the last 40 years.
Gordon will be an important part of the interview process and will work with the successful candidate to ensure continuity of service to the community and support for the GC McIntosh team.
There isn’t much on your website? What’s the best way to follow progress and get information?
You're right and we're working hard to fix it! Thank you for bearing with us whilst we get our ducks in a row. In the meantime, the best places to find updates and further information on either Dufftown: a New Dawn or Truerlein, are our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
I have a business idea. What do I do?
Fantastic! We want to help local entrepreneurs establish successful businesses that support the continued economic recovery of Dufftown. If you have an idea that you'd like to discuss, please do get in touch by email (email@example.com), Facebook messenger to our page or even pop into the office at the Old Post Office in Albert Place for a chat.
How do I know my ideas and information will be kept confidential?
All ideas and information shared with us will be held in the strictest confidence.
You have spoken about a "Master Plan" being worked on by The Moray Council and the new Development Trust - is that document available to the public for comment ?
The Master Plan is something that we are currently working on and will be sharing out to the community in the coming weeks, but it will take a number of months of public consultation to get it right.
The pre-planning masterplan that was carried out last year has now been superseded by all the ideas that business people and locals have brought to us and with the support of Scotland's Towns Partnership, Truerlein will work to ensure as many people and organisations have a voice in that process. We’re at the start of this work so we will be actively engaging with the community for input and feedback.
The Trust will be invited to feed into the plan – as will other local community groups – but just to clarify, it is not the Council and the Trust who are driving this project, it will be Truerlein as we believe we have the scope to focus on building such a comprehensive and holistic plan.
How much is this project costing and how are you and your investors making money without it being to the cost of the residents?
Essentially, this is a commercial project which we are funding through investment. It’s our belief that it is through the development of successful business that an economy thrives. If the businesses are run profitably then the entire endeavour is profitable and everyone – including businesses that aren’t part of the Truerlein project - benefits. Truerlein will own those businesses until such time as the individuals choose to take them on (over and above the 49% shareholding we are gifting to them).
This is a multi-million pound project and a lot of that investment is now in place or close to being in place. We also have undertakings for those elements that aren’t already agreed.
Where is the money coming from? What will they get out of the project?
Everything that we are doing, we are doing through either commercial finance, development finance, patient capital, and now we will be looking at the large regeneration grants that could well be made available through the Scottish Government (depending on the outcome of the election).
At this moment, we have funding available right up to stage four of the project.
Is the Dufftown project dependent upon access to future Government grant money ? What happens if there is a fundamental switch in policy following the local elections in May and the grant funding will not be accessible directly by businesses or through local councils?
Dufftown: a New Dawn is not dependent on Government grants. It is funded by a combination of commercial finance, development finance, patient capital, as well as potential grant funding, depending on the grants that are available.
We have already secured funding up to phase 4 of the project, with other investment in discussion so we are confident and excited to move forward, irrespective of the election outcomes. We see the new grant funding that is coming available as a bonus to the process, not something we are relying on.
What is Destination Dufftown?
We have been reaching out for over a year to volunteer organisations to discuss local plans to drive tourism, sadly with little success. Therefore, we've made the decision to develop our own plans to boost tourism and drive visitor numbers to the town as we expect this will be critical to the successful economic recovery of Dufftown. We are keen to work collaboratively with local organisations, in support of Visit Moray Speyside, who we have opted to join and support its plans to establish the region as a key tourist destination for domestic and international travellers alike.
Over the next three to six years, we look forward to launching new services and amenities that will cater to more visitors and wider tourism trends, as well as working with other community groups to champion local businesses, returning the Malt Whisky Capital of the World to the beating heart of Speyside’s tourist trail.