Argyll & Bute council put Castle Toward back on market
In a letter from Argyll and Bute council dated 7th feb 2014, Argyll and Bute council have placed the Castle Toward estate back on the market enabling the South Cowal Community Development Company to proceed in its bid to buy the Castle Toward estate. The council had to agree to put the property back on the market in order for the local buy out scheme to proceed.
Under the Land Reform act (Scotland) the local community group, the SCCDC, had been lobbying Scottish ministers to get an agreement which would allow them to purchase the Castle Toward Estate. The Scottish ministers have since agreed to back the bid and placed a prohibition of sale on the property preventing the council from disposing of the estate until they had gathered enough information about the local community groups proposed buy out. After a 63 day consultation period the Scottish Ministers gave the community bid the green light to proceed with a community buy out, all of which hinged on the council decision on whether or not to put the estate back up for sale. Under legislation once the Castle and grounds were put back on the market the only parties allowed to bid to buy the estate, within a six month period, would be the local community group the SCCDC.
The council have now announced that do intend to put the property on the market and that the offer to dispose of the land to the local community group has been agreed with the Scottish Ministers. This however is by no means the end of process to buy back the Castle Toward estate merely the start of a long journey into community ownership. SCCDC Chairman Alan Stewart is understandably delighted at the councils quick reply to sell the estate. He said, “now we can show everyone how serious we are about purchasing this property, It has long been said that this day would never come, well now it has and we are ready to buy back the Castle Toward estate” The SCCDC now must hold a series of community consultations about the purchase and put the “buy out” bid to a wider public vote, upon a positive result of this vote the Scottish ministers are expected to give the green light to the community for an outright purchase.
The purchase and regeneration of the estate will is expected to be funded by grant bodies and philanthropic institutions but the local community will not be asked to fund the buy out of Castle Toward, Alan Stewart said “it has always been the SCCDC’s aim that the proposed buy out of the estate will not cost the community anything, the very essence of the project is to generate revenue for the area rather than become a financial burden on the residents of the area”