Decision on Castle Toward community buyout delayed.
The local community group in South Cowal will have to wait a bit longer to find out whether or not they can proceed in their purchase of the Castle Toward estate. The community were due to find out the Scottish Ministers decision before the end of June but due to the group appealing the value of the estate ministers cannot now make that final decision until the outcome of the appeal is known.
The community group were not aware that lodging an appeal would dictate the time scale of the ministers decision as the local groups chairman Alan Stewart explained, “No community group has ever appealed a valuation of the District Valuer before so we are in unknown territory but due to the nature of the right to buy (2003 act) it is written, in law, that the ministers cannot make a decision until any appeal is concluded. We do still feel, as do the valuers we employed, that the £1.75 million pounds value place on the estate is excessive so we need to appeal or come to an agreement on a lower price with the local authority.” he went on to say “I know this delay is disappointing news for the community, especially after the overwhelming support they have shown in the recent public ballot”
The local council are now in receipt of the community groups business plan for the estate and are due to discuss the community groups purchase price of Castle Toward at a full meeting on the 21st of August, so no final decision can be made by the Scottish ministers before this date at the earliest. If however the community group continue with the appeal, the appeals court it is not likely to make a decision before the end of September. Alan Stewart said, “the community group are in ongoing talks with the local council and we will wait to hear back from the local authority before making any final decision on whether to continue with the appeal process” The group are currently in positive ongoing negotiations with a company wishing to use part of the estate creating in turn a large amount of jobs and a boost the local economy, a member of the SCCDC commented “there’s a lot at stake for this community on the decision of a value for Castle Toward estate, the community group has done all it can to make this happen. It’s now all about the price, and what price do you put on 80 plus jobs?”