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March 3, 2010

Rum looks to the future

At the other end of the scale, Scotland smallest ever community buy out – achieved by the 17 adult residents on Rum (15 for, 2 against) – have taken their first steps on the path towards building a more sustainable life for themselves.  By selling one of the small cottages that the community inherited from former owners Scottish Natural Heritage, the community will have the cash to invest in a new shop and cafe for the village. And, just as importantly, the population will increase by two

Mike Merritt , The Scotsman

THE first house to go up for sale on the remote Isle of Rum has been sold as a step towards increasing the local population.

In a landmark move, islanders are also due to take ownership of a dozen houses and other properties by the end of next month – after what was Scotland’s smallest community buyout.

Dilapidated Tattie House was put on the market last year at offers over £40,000 and its sale was crucial to the future of an island with just 39 people, nearly all of whom work for the isle’s main owner, Scottish Natural Heritage.

It has been bought by Ian and Kate Bolas from Wales, who plan to renovate it and move in “in about two to three years”.

“The sale of Tattie House is a significant start. We do not envisage any more property being sold in the foreseeable future – but a number of building plots could be,” said trust director Sean Morris.

“The trust will take over and rent the existing homes. People will be independent of SNH and have security of staying in their own homes for the first time.

“There has already been a number of people who have expressed an interest in the building plots. We are trying to build a sustainable future here.”

Until recently, everything on the Hebridean island, known, along with Canna, Muck and Eigg, as one of the Small Isles, was the property of SNH.

The island, one of Scotland’s nature reserves, is home to the sea eagle, red deer and otters, among other wildlife.

But last year, ownership of the village, including the Tattie House, and some land on the island, which will be rented out as crofts, was transferred to the Isle of Rum Community Trust.

The trust is trying to establish a community on Rum, where, until recently, the only way to live there was to work for SNH.

A second-phase transfer of land and assets next month will see the community taking ownership of almost the entire village and infrastructure.

The money raised from selling Tattie House will go towards a new shop and café, providing a focal point for village life.

Tattie House was originally two cottages occupied by farmhands, but has lain abandoned for decades. Situated on the north side of Kinloch Village, it enjoys views overlooking Loch Scresort.

Residents voted in January last year in favour of taking community ownership of buildings and land on the island. The ballot of the 17 adult islanders passed the asset transfer by 15 votes to two.

The move was part of the Scottish Government’s plan to transfer £257,000 worth of assets to the community from SNH.