My name is Alan Stewart. I am The Chairman of the South Cowal Community Development Company a charitable organisation set up with the aim of transferring the Castle Toward Estate into community ownership. As a resident of South Cowal I have a strong affiliation with Castle Toward and I am committed to turning Castle Toward into a community asset that will help benefit the wider commmunity. Here is our progress so far.

 

Progress to Date

 

  • SCCDC submitted an application to Scottish Ministers in November 2013 under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. This is a formal register of the Community interest in Castle Toward and the associated land.

  • As a result of the application, a prohibition was delivered to Argyll & Bute Council on 25th November 2013, preventing them from selling the property for a period of 63 days.

  • During this 63 days the Council has the opportunity to comment on SCCDC's application, and in return SCCDC can formally respond to these comments.

  • At the end of the 63 day period (on 27th January) Scottish Ministers will make a decision on whether SCCDC can proceed with their plans to purchase the property.

  • If SCCDC are permitted to continue with the purchase plan they will be given a period of 6 months in which to find the funding necessary to complete the purchase, develop an acceptable Business Plan and, crucially, hold a ballot of eligible voters in the South Cowal area, confirming support for the action.

  • 50% of the Commuity need to vote at this ballot and 50% of voters must vote in favour of SCCDC's plans in order for them to be able to proceed.

  • Scottish Ministers have now agreed to our community buy out.

  • Argyll and Bute council have placed Castle Toward estate back on the market allowing the buy out to proceed.

  • We have now secured the services of an architect to conduct surveys of the estate and help prepare a feasibilty study of our plans for Castle Toward.

  • Architects have made thier first "scoping" visit to Castle Toward and are now working on phase 1 of surveying the estate.

  • The SCCDC have informed the Scottish Ministers that they intend to exercise the community's *Right To Buy* formally kick starting the intended purchase process.

  • The first of our local fundraising events have started.

  • District Valuer has visited Castle Toward estate and is now compliying a value of the estate to let the community group know how much they will be asked to pay for it.

  • Ballot process finalised, ballot papers will be arriving in South Cowal residents letterboxes on the 1st of May.

  • Sunday 4th of May. Public Question and Answer session at Innellan Village hall.

  • Held an Open Day at the Castle Toward estate on May 10th.

  • Voting started 10th May at 12 midday.

  • Mobile Ballot Box on the road at various locations in South Cowal.

  • Voting Closed Friday 16th May at 9pm.

  • All the finalised paperwork has to be with the Scottish Ministers by midnight on the 27th of May 2014 - Completed.

  • Appeal against District Valuers price on Castle Toward is being considered by the community group.

  • No decision will be made by the Scottish Ministers until the result of any appeal is know. This could take place by September 2014.

  • A reduction in price has been sought by the community group with the local authority. We are awaiting the councillors decision on the 21st of August

  • Mid August 2014
    A brief summary of the situation is this: due to the huge difference in the value of the estate from that of the district valuer, (£1.750 million), and our own advisors, (£759-£850k) we have lodged an appeal with the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. In the meantime we have requested that the council consider reducing the amount they would accept from us by up to £1 million.
    The justification for this request with the council is the considerable economic benefit that would befall Cowal should we be successful. Our advisors have calculated that the area would be better off by around £850k per year after the initial development phase is over. We feel this is a conservative figure but demonstrates just how much benefit we can put into the locality. All we ask is that the council play their part.
    The council’s Policy and Resources Committee is meeting on Thursday 21st and will consider our request at some point during the meeting. It is hard to say how the vote will go, we do have support from some important councilors, and I have given them all a huge amount of evidence for them to consider. But at the end of the day the decision will be taken by councilors who will be concerned as to how their own wards will suffer by the loss of this income should they support us.
    If the vote is favourable and the council accept a significant reduction then the appeal will be dropped. However if we are offered nothing or only a small amount, then we may have to carry on with the appeal. We don’t want to do this though, it will incur significant expense for us and will inevitably result in delay.
    As soon as we have an answer then we will let you all know.

  • Appeal against the District Valuer's £1.75 million pounds valuation has been dropped by the local community group. We are now instead focusing fully on postive negotiations with Argyll and Bute council on a reduction in price.

  • Appeal dropped - the Scottish Ministers can fully consider our community Right To Buy, all paperwork resubmitted for final decision. (Expected end of October)

  • Scottish Land Fund award Castle Toward Community Buyout £750,000 the biggest single award in Land Fund history. (September 23rd 2014)

  • Further public consultation with local residents on Sunday 28th August at Innellan Village Hall 1pm - 4pm.

  • We are waiting for the local authorities decision on our request for a discount, this is expecetd after several delays on the 18th of December.

  • Council offer a £1 Million pound commercial loan, but no discount. We have till the 31st of January to accept or decline.

  • Valuation of Castle Toward actioned by community group.

  • Value received "Red Book" price of £850,000

  • Presented council with new value and asked them to accept our offer.

  • Friday 13th, February 2015 - council refuse to accept offer. Argyll and Bute council withdraw its delegation from negoiations/

  • Tuesday 17th February 2015 - Scottish ministers "extinguish" Castle Toward community right to buy.

  • Community Buy Out of Castle Toward is declared - over.

  • What Happens Next?

 

 

To read the latest news about our community buy out click here

SCCDC Chairman Alan Stewart