Whitesands project

The Whitesands Project is a scheme to provide flood protection and public realm improvements for the Whitesands area of Dumfries.

The Whitesands Project (Flood Protection Scheme and Public Realms Improvements) was presented to Full Council on 4 October 2023 where Members agreed to progress the published Flood Protection Scheme. The Project Team will now look to undertake works for detailed design and build of the scheme, which will involve engagement with those most affected, and the wider community over the coming months.

As well as reducing flood risk, the project supports the aspirations of the Dynamically Different Dumfries agenda, and will help to transform the Whitesands, greatly improving an under-utilised area of the town.

Following scheme confirmation and completion of the statutory period for any legal challenges, the next stage will be to appoint specialist designers to complete the detailed designs and prepare contract documentation.

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Scheme Design

The confirmed scheme is based on a 'raised walkway' concept with a combination of walls, glass panels and flood gates providing flood protection. (NB earlier proposals for a full height 'bund' were changed in response to concerns about impacts on views toward the river). The use of solid walls softened by planting and grassy banks has been used on schemes across the country and is a is a tried and tested method for reducing flood risk.

The new physical defences (walls/glass/raised walkway combinations) will begin next to the Dumfries and Galloway Standard offices and end downstream, just past the Pizzeria in Dock Park. Defences are also included over the river at Welldale and Kenmure Terrace.

The key design features are:

  • The existing riverside wall, walkway and cycleway remain largely unchanged, with the addition of a raised walking route set back from the river.
  • The new raised walkway will be no more than 1.4m or 4' above existing ground levels.
  • Side slopes will be gentle, to ensure grassed areas can be used as open space.
  • Glass panels along the top of the walkway will provide permanent a 1 in 25 year return period standard of protection.
  • For more exceptional flood events, demountable walling above the glass panels will add height, providing a 1 in 75 year return period standard of protection.
  • Where there is insufficient room to accommodate the raised walkway, there will be a combination of walls, glass panels and flood gates.
  • The road alignment stays as it is but with the addition of bus stops along the roadside to replace the existing interchange.
  • All parking on the shop side of the Whitesands is retained.
  • A focal point and viewing area would be created at the Sandy Opening.
  • All designs and materials will be sympathetic to the setting and historic features such as the Devorgilla Bridge.



The Whitesands area of Dumfries experiences regular flooding events and this has impacted on levels of investment in the area, as well as causing damage to properties and infrastructure. The most severe flood events in recent years in 2014/2015 were classified as 1 in 25 to 1 in 30-year events. A flood on 30 December 2022 was the highest since the 1980's and affected many residential and commercial premises. The frequency and severity of flooding will increase because of climate change, so such events are expected to become more common, with more severe events more likely to occur.

In response to these risks, Dumfries and Galloway Councildeveloped proposals for flood protection, commissioning subject experts in flood modelling and protection, civil engineering, ecology and conservation to review all options for tackling the problem, whilst respecting the unique history, heritage and cultural assets of the area. Stakeholders and the local community were kept involved and informed through a series of consultation and information sharing events between 2011 and 2016 (see 'Development of the flood protection and regeneration scheme' section below for details).

Flood Protection Order

In June 2017, Elected Members made the preliminary decision to confirm the Whitesands Project (Flood Protection and Public Realm Improvements) without modifications and published the Flood Protection Order.

The Flood Protection Order included the following documents:

  • Flood Protection Scheme Notice
  • Flood Protection Scheme Description Document
  • Flood Protection Scheme Drawings
  • Environmental Statement

Supporting documents:

  • Design Justification Report
  • Operational and Maintenance Arrangements
  • Community Consultation Report

All of these documents are available to view online:

Further information

We have prepared some answers to frequently asked questions about the project:

Whitesands Project Decision Letter

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Page last updated: 10/01/2024
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