“It’s no ordinary shopping centre. It’s a laboratory,” says Julie Froud, a professor at Alliance Manchester Business School, who is conducting an independent evaluation of York Place.
It lacks investment, as shown by the cluster of buckets to catch leaks in the entrance. The ideas are rough around the edges, and many of those involved are working on goodwill. But at least the centre only has one faraway landlord; activists in Dumfries are having to barter with a number of absentee owners.
In this lies a lesson for any opposition party that wants to offer disaffected voters a means of taking back control: make it easier for communities to repossess derelict properties. Most of all, Froud notes: “This is a group of people all trying to make things happen.”