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December 1, 2020

What works (and what doesn’t)

While a small number of aspiring community land owners have suffered setbacks of late, many more have tasted success with a string of awards from the Scottish Land Fund just announced. These awards are often crucial elements of a complex jigsaw of careful planning and local development. Assynt Development Trust and Knoydart Foundation will be using their awards to purchase land for new affordable and social housing. Whatever their consultation processes were, they were clearly successful. Perhaps a repository for successful (and unsuccessful) consultation exercises should be established as a resource for other to learn from.

Scottish Land Fund

Multiple projects across Scotland have received funding in the latest round of grants from the Scottish Land Fund. The money will allow groups from both urban and rural areas to take ownership of local assets and put them to use for the benefit of their local communities.

Assynt Development Trust

Amongst the projects receiving funding are Assynt Development Trust, whose award of £65,750 will allow them to buy 55 acres of land, which they plan to develop for self-build plots, affordable rental housing and commercial workshops as well as tracks, trails and motor home pitches.

In Fife, Edible & Tasty Spaces Rosyth (EATS Rosyth), which delivers projects on food and growing, will receive £284,500 to purchase the former Clydesdale Bank building in the heart of the town in order to relocate its community hub and to provide a range of new activities related to cooking and food.

And in Dumfries and Galloway, Annan Harbour Action Group has been given £98,890 to acquire an historic quayside warehouse and area of abandoned land, called Minister’s Merse, in order to create a visitor centre, cafe, boat building facilities and visitor accommodation as part of its vision to celebrate the town’s maritime heritage.

Other projects receiving funding are Edinbane Community in Skye, which has been awarded £81,500 with which to purchase the derelict village shop; SEAchange (Slains Environmental Action for change SCIO) in Aberdeenshire, whose grant of £170,710 will allow them to buy Slains Church in Collieston, along with 28 acres of ground, in order to create an energy-efficient cafe and community space; and Brunstsfield St Oswalds in Edinburgh, who have been given £214,713 in order to buy St Oswald’s church and hall in order to create a community space and provide wraparound childcare facilities.

Willie Jack, Chair, Assynt Development Trust, said: “News of this award from the Scottish Land Fund is a turning point for our community as it means that the Lochinver Future Homes project can now proceed to the next stage allowing our young people and families to remain at the very heart of Assynt.”

Stephen Lynas, Chairman of EATS Rosyth said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this funding. This will allow us to push ahead with our plans to purchase the former Clydesdale Bank building, where we will be able to develop even further the important work and range of services being carried out in the community by EATS Rosyth.”

Richard Brodie, Chair, Annan Harbour Action Group, said: “This is great news which will kickstart a major development at Annan Harbour. Now the hard work begins to raise the funds to turn our inspirational ideas into reality.”

Alastair Danter, Chair, Edinbane Community Company, said: “The purchase has been a priority wish expressed in every community consultation in recent years, making it a reality is a dream come true.”

Professor Peter Smith, Trustee, SEAchange, said: “We are delighted with this award from the Scottish Land Fund. It will allow us to develop the old Kirk for use as a low carbon community café and the land for creating a community woodland. There is still a lot of work to do, but this award marks the first vital step on our journey to become a carbon neutral community.”

And David Urch, Chair of Bruntsfield St.Oswald’s, said, “We are absolutely delighted to hear that our application for funds to purchase St. Oswald’s Church and Hall has been approved by the Scottish Land Fund. This money, together with additional funds for refurbishment, as well as the continuing hard work and dedication of our team, will breathe life into an historic building and bring it into local ownership. Its development as a vibrant community hub to provide genuine public and affordable space for childcare, youth clubs and services, learning and development opportunities for local primary school children, as well space for community groups and services for the elderly, will be well received and of great benefit to all in the Bruntsfield area.”

Land Reform Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham said: “The coronavirus pandemic has continued to set us all unprecedented challenges throughout 2020, acutely affecting local communities right across Scotland, and beyond.

“But despite these challenges – in fact, because of them – communities up and down the country are playing an increasingly vital role in maintaining and building our resilience, our spirit and local support networks.

“I commend the latest recipients of Scottish Land Fund grants for driving forward plans to support and enhance their local areas as part of our Green recovery, in what are clearly difficult circumstances. I am particularly pleased that, through what is the final round of funding for this year, the Scottish Land Fund is supporting such a high number of unique and diverse projects, and I look forward to these projects delivering on their ambitions in the new year.”

Sandra Holmes, Head of Community Assets at HIE, said: “These successful projects announced today are all great examples of people taking control of local resources for the long-term benefit of their communities. Knoydart Foundation for example, will be able to purchase a disused cottage and associated land near the village of Inverie on the Knoydart Peninsula to provide three affordable homes, business units and as well as for agricultural use, all of which are vital for future development of the area. Ownership will give these communities greater control over important assets and will help ensure their long-term future. We wish all the successful groups the very best in their new ventures.”

And John Watt, Chair, Scottish Land Fund Committee, said: “The wide range of groups across urban and rural Scotland who are sharing in £3,660,370 of funding are now in a unique position to take control of land and property assets that will reap rewards for people now and for generations to come.”

Other groups receiving funding are:

Acharacle Community Company

Award – £45,015

This group will purchase the Acharacle Community Centre, which provides key services to the community and is a meeting place for the village and the west Lochaber community. Ownership will allow ACC to upgrade the hall and enhance the services it provides.

Am Fasgadh Regeneration Company

Award – £85,500

With the award, AFRG will purchase the Old Telephone Exchange in Kingussie to provide a bike hub social enterprise, space for events and meetings, an office and a kitchen.

Clachan Village Hall SCIO

Award – £168,888

This project will acquire the former Kilcalmonell Free Church as a replacement village hall. The new facility will provide an extended range of service and facilities for locals and visitors.

Colinton Village Enterprise SCIO

Award – £47,898

This group will purchase a former coach house to operate as a community hub in Colinton.

Crail Community Partnership

Award – £41,500

CCP will acquire Crail Community Hall from Fife Council in order to provide sports for all ages, a youth club, meeting space and information point, exhibition area and cafe.

Drongan, Rankinston and Stair Regeneration Group

Award – £55,000

This award will allow DRSRG to purchase Hannahston Woods to provide a local amenity and woodland for the Drongan community to use everyday and for education, skills development, workshops and community events.

Dumfries High Street Ltd

Award – £178,200

DHSL will purchase numbers 111 and 121 High Street and refurbish the buildings for affordable enterprise space at ground level and affordable homes on the upper floors, as part of a project to create a contemporary living, working, socialising, learning and enterprise quarter.

Earlsferry Town Hall Ltd

Award – £42,500

The group will purchase Earlsferry Town Hall and operate it as a community hub.

Garioch Heritage Society

Award – £466,000

GHS will take ownership of the building where it currently holds collections and exhibitions, runs a cafe and provides community meeting space, in order to ensure a financially-sustainable future for the Centre.

Glentrool & Bargrennan Community Trust

Award – £110,000

G&BCT will purchase and renovate three empty houses to ensure continued availability of housing for affordable rent in this remote community.

Go Golspie

Award – £147,890

The award will allow Go Golspie to purchase Fountain Road Church Hall to operate as a multi-use community space.

Insh Community Holdings

Award – £23,500

This money will be used to purchase Insh Community Woodland in Kingussie, which the group currently leases from Forestry and Land Scotland.

Keir, Penpont and Tynron Development Trust

Award – £47,500

This project will connect three villages by creating an active travel path, linking three strips of agricultural land, woodland and unused green space between Penpont and Thornhill.

Kilmuir Community Trust

Award – £19,000

Purchasing three areas of land adjacent to the village hall will allow for additional parking facilities, increased space for visiting services and for the development on-site of small businesses to support the community and tourism.

Knoydart Foundation

Award – £391,150

Knoydart Foundation will buy an unoccupied cottage and 111 acres of associated land near the village of Inverie. Ownership will allow the Foundation to convert the cottage into three affordable homes and develop the land for self-build plots, business units and agriculture use.

Mull & Iona Community Trust

Award – £121,254

M&ICT will purchase the schoolhouse in the remote village of Pennyghael on the Ross of Mull to ensure its continued availability as a secure and affordable rental home within the local community.

Newburgh Community Trust

Award – £10,000

NCT will buy East Shore Park from Fife Council in order to increase indoor and outdoor sporting activity including amongst inter-generational groups.

North East Fife Community Hub

Award – £167,512

This project will acquire the St David’s Building in St Andrews for community activities including a Foodbank, Credit Union and cooking classes, in order to provide support for people living with ill health, financial hardship and isolation.

Old Luce Development Trust

Award – £261,250

OLDT will buy the GP surgery, house and adjacent land in Glenluce in order to secure the existing practice and provide the opportunity to develop a new surgery.

Penicuik Community Development Trust

Award – £130,000

PCDT will buy the Pen-y-Coe Press buildings where they have already developed a Papermaking Museum and operate working vintage presses as part of the town’s heritage and as a tourist attraction.

Sanday Community Craft Hub

Award – £61,510

The award will allow SCCH to purchase the Bank House, where they operate a craft hub with space for local artists to display their work. They also propose to open a tearoom in the building.

Sanday Development Trust

Award – £33,240

Funding will allow SDT to purchase two plots of adjoining land in order to develop a project providing a communal space and four affordable assisted living homes for rent.

Trossachs Community Trust

Award – £90,000

This group is set to purchase the former Trossachs Primary School from Stirling Council and develop it into a visitor and heritage centre, cafe and shop selling groceries alongside local crafts and produce.