April 20, 2016
CR2B for everyone
It seems to have escaped most people’s attention, but last Friday was a significant day for every urban community in Scotland. The community right to buy legislation, which has hitherto been restricted to rural communities, has been amended so that it now applies to the whole country and (hopefully) is much less complicated to use. This comes at a time when the Scottish Land Fund has been more than trebled in size. Opportunities are opening up as never before. Here are some stories to whet the appetite.
From ancient woodlands to small plots of amenity land, the Scottish Land Fund is helping seven enterprising communities to take ownership of local land that matters most to them.
Over £1.2 million is being awarded to groups in Aberdeenshire, Highlands, North Ayrshire and West Lothian. Projects include two community buyouts under the National Forest Land Scheme, as well as a land purchase within Scotland’s first Geopark.
In Aberdeenshire, the Maryculter Woodlands Trust will now be able to take forward a long held ambition of owning the 67 hectare Kirkton of Maryculter Wood. The local community has managed the forest, under agreement with Forestry Commission Scotland, since 2007 and will now, thanks to a grant of £196,000, be able to own and develop it for future generations to come. The award will help to secure the future of the woodland as a community asset, allowing the trust to build on the existing use of the wood as an educational resource, to create new opportunities for volunteering, training and skills development and to initiate a range of income generating activities.
Ed Thorogood, Chair, Maryculter Woodlands Trust said: “Gaining support from the Scottish Land Fund is life-changing news for us. We are also very grateful to our own supportive community and to those who put the framework in place which helps communities take ownership of their local woods. We look forward to continuing our work with the community and network of local organisations to help improve the habitat and amenity value still further. We are particularly pleased with the number of educational groups, including the Kincardineshire Forest School and The Green School of Aberdeen, which want to work with us to develop the educational value of the wood.”
Plans to develop Scotland’s first Geopark have received a welcome Scottish Land Fund investment of £54,000. Scourie Community Development Company will use the funding to purchase 1.76 hectares of land known as the Doctor’s Park located in Scourie, Sutherland. Once in community ownership, the Company plan to build a Geocentre Visitor attraction as a focal point for the wider North West Highlands Geopark. This will house the renowned Shelley Collection of rocks, minerals and gemstones and will become an educational resource for visiting schools and universities, whilst contributing to the local economy.
Scourie Community Development Company Ltd Chairman, Neil MacDonald, said: “This Scottish Land Fund award is excellent news and will allow us to move forward in partnership with North West Highlands Geopark Ltd. Our ambitious plan to build an exhibition centre and community hub will be a fantastic asset to the North West Highlands, with the world-class Shelley Collection being displayed to its full potential.”
Minister for Land Reform, Aileen McLeod, said, “It is great news that the latest round of awards from the Scottish Land Fund will help seven communities in Aberdeenshire, Highlands, North Ayrshire and West Lothian bring land in into community ownership. These communities have the desire to help shape their own future and have developed their own plans that will help them to transform their communities, and bring a host of benefits, economic, social and environmental.
“These projects, together with the wider Scottish Government work on Land Reform, through both the Community Empowerment Act, and the Land Reform Bill, will support the Scottish Government aim of bringing more land into community ownership by 2020. I am looking forward to watching these communities thrive as they develop the land on which they live and work to realise their goals and ambitions.”
Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, John Watt, said: “These projects are excellent examples of how local communities can transform ambition into reality. From a dynamic forestry buyout in Aberdeenshire to the creation of a valuable tourist attraction in Scourie, these awards will help to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits for generations to come. Each of today’s seven successful groups has worked hard to get to this point and I wish them all every success as they take forward their innovative plans.”
The First Minister announced in her Programme for Government that the Scottish Land Fund will be increased to £10 million from 2016-20.
Other Scottish Land Fund awards receiving funding today are:
Glengarry Community Woodlands
This group will purchase Glengarry Wood and the former Forestry Commission Depot at Invergarry, Inverness-shire under the National Forest Land Scheme bringing 30 hectares of woodland into community ownership.
Morvern Community Development Company
This group based in the Highlands will purchase two plots of land in Lochaline on the Morvern peninsula, one plot under the National Forest Land Scheme. The plots will be developed to provide sites for new affordable housing, visitor accommodation and a heritage centre/gift shop in the centre of the village, to meet the needs of this remote rural community.
Stratherrick and Foyers Community Trust Ltd
This group will purchase 2.22 hectares of land adjacent to Riverside, Lower Foyers, Inverness-shire. Ownership will empower the community to lead and control the management and development of the land to provide an area of green-space within the village for social, recreational and sporting activities that will help contribute to the health and well-being of the community.
Kirknewton Community Development Trust
Requested amount: £60,000
This group will purchase land at Camps Junction, Kirknewton, West Lothian. Ownership will empower the community to lead and control the development of the site to provide new, low-energy, affordable houses which will be made available for local elderly people to rent.
Beith Community Development Trust
This group will purchase the former Geilsland House and School Campus, located in Beith, North Ayrshire. This will create new job opportunities through the development of the various buildings to support activities such as self-catering accommodation and business start-ups.