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October 13, 2010

Comrie moves forward

Three years ago, the community of Comrie used the right to buy legislation to purchase 90 acres of former MOD land and buildings (including a nuclear bunker).  From the outset it was clear to everyone the potential of the site was massive and the options for how to develop it seemed endless. But the community has taken its time, consulted widely, and slowly but surely moved forward with a development plan. Financial sustainability is now the priority and a big step forward was announced recently

The community of Comrie took ownership of the 90 acre site on 20th September 2007. Since that historic day Comrie Development Trust has been working towards the community vision that evolved from the many, and ongoing, community meetings and idea exchange events. It is hoped that the project will be a model of sustainable development for rural communities across Scotland. The many facets of the project are progressed by a team of local volunteers and CDT staff who are dedicated to deliver all the lasting benefits for our village this project can offer. The development of Cultybraggan includes:

• Allotments
• Food production programmes for local school children
• Community Orchard
• Sports and recreation facilities
• A ‘Back to the Future’ Centre highlighting our local history and plans for a low carbon future
• Biomass Heat plant
• Solar PV farm
• Anaerobic digestion plant
• Green Tourism
• Ecological building construction methods
• Renewable energy sources for the site and village
• Biodiversity areas and woodland planting
• Footpath and cycle ways to the site
• Holding learning events in the village on all aspects of sustainable development

The sustainable development of Cultybraggan is a £ multi million project. The progress on this project has been managed by local volunteers on the Trust’s Cultybraggan Working Group, paid staff members and contracting in local professionals. The Working Group, comprising of highly skilled local individuals, has also been supported by a team of local advisors who, like the working group, have offered their skills on a voluntary basis. This Advisory Group has met at key points as the project has progressed with individuals offering considerable personal input outside of those meetings.

Phase one works was possible through the generosity of our funders . This phase of the development was the major infrastructure works (drainage, electricity, water and telecoms), the conversion of nine nissen huts to make 12 units for local businesses and the refurbishment of the central mess. Contracts were wherever possible awarded to local contractors and were completed on time and within budget all due to the hard work and professionalism of all those involved. The creation of community allotments on site also happened at this time which are flourishing and now have a waiting list for plots!

We currently have an eclectic mix of people and businesses occupying the nissen huts and former central mess building .

With the backing of a recent ballot , the Trust will pursue a short-term action plan, which is being agreed with key funders that will make Cultybraggan Camp a financially sustainable project. CDT will continue to take forward the strategy, taking into consideration the comments received made in the consultation.

Key actions include:
• Sports facilities and a Museum at the Camp
• Off-road route to the Camp
• Greater emphasis will be placed on encouraging community involvement, local events & volunteering on the Camp

And a financial focus on:
• The Trust has recently announced that preparations are in hand for marketing the two house plots on the edge of the Camp, following the planning consent being granted earlier this year. As part of this the land is being cleared before it is put on the market. Buildings which comprise the former Sergeant’s Mess occupy the site of the house plots. Please note that demolition of these buildings will now be undertaken with works starting shortly.
• Interest will be invited in purchasing plots in the commercial quad-rant for business work-spaces  The plans will be taken forward to seek funding for the Biomass Heat Plant as part of the “Green Energy” project
• New businesses and community enterprises will be identified to take advantage of this “Green Energy”
• A detailed business case will be developed for the Eco Lodges looking at both the hillside and the Camp