£750,000 award from Scottish Land Fund for Castle Toward community buy out.

SCOTTISH LAND FUND SUPPORTS BUYOUT OF HISTORIC ARGYLL ESTATE

The SCCDC, the local community group in Cowal who are in negotiations to buy the Castle Toward Estate have been given a huge boost by one of their funding sources. The Scottish Land Fund, to which they had applying to for financial assistance, have award the local group one of the biggest grants in Scottish Land Fund history - £750,000

Plans for community ownership of the historic Castle Toward Estate in Argyll have taken a step forward with a £750,000 Scottish Land Fund award announced today (23 September).

South Cowal Community Development Company will put the funding towards purchasing the 143 acre estate which will preserve the buildings and create new jobs for local people. Castle Toward Estate includes the Grade B Listed Baronial Mansion House, which will be leased and developed by a national outdoor education company and the Gate House buildings which the community plan to develop for a range of activities including a tea-room, bunk-house, self-catering units and retail workshops.

Announcing the funding, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, John Watt, said: “Since opening to applications in June 2012, the Scottish Land Fund has helped to renew momentum to community ownership across rural Scotland. Today a further six Scottish communities are being supported to take control of their own futures. In Argyll, plans to purchase and preserve a historically significant estate will lead to a substantial number of new jobs being created which will help to build a more sustainable future for those living there now and in the future.”

Welcoming a Scottish Land Fund award of £750,000, South Cowal Community Development Company Chairman Alan Stewart, said: "This kind of news doesn't happen very often and it will certainly lift spirits here in South Cowal. The local community have been behind the community buyout 100% over the past six months, attending open days, local meetings, fundraising events and even a record turnout for community ballot on the estate’s future.

He continued: “This level of funding now means we can proceed in our continuing negotiations to purchase this estate for the community. It does feel as if the whole community has been rewarded.”

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse, said: “I am delighted to see the range of projects that are being funded in this latest round of awards from the Scottish Land Fund. These awards will help to make a real difference to communities in Argyll, Perthshire, North Uist and Wester Ross and will assist them in realising their goals and aspirations through community land ownership.

“These awards demonstrate the great diversity of projects that communities are involved in – from a local park and facilities to developing a 143 acre estate which will enable the preservation of a Baronial Mansion House and the creation of local jobs. I am confident that these projects will demonstrate how community land ownership is an important way to make communities a better place in which to live in, work, and enjoy.

“Support to communities from the Scottish Land Fund is an important way to develop communities and help them realise their goals and aspirations. The Scottish Government remains committed to community land ownership and to supporting it through the Scottish Land Fund until 2020. I look forward to watching these communities grow and develop their projects and to see them realise their goals and aspirations.”

The Scottish Land Fund is funded by £9 million from the Scottish Government and administered by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The group who are in positive negotiations with the local authority for a reduction in price for the estate had always believed that funding support for this type of local project would forthcoming, Chairman Alan Stewart continued “The local community buy out of Castle Toward is such a positive project with real aims and objectives and the prospect of local employment should we be successful, I always had faith that funders would look favourable on this most worthwhile of projects” “here in Argyll and Bute we can really put this funding to good use.”

The local community group are still short in their overall goal of raising the full amount of money, 1.75 million pounds, which the local authority are asking for Castle Toward Estate which is why continuing negotiations with council on a reduced price are crucial. The council are due to discuss this again at a meeting towards the end of October.

Now that the Scottish referendum on Independence is over the group are expecting within the coming weeks to hear the final decision from the Scottish Ministers about whether the local community group has done enough to satisfy Scottish Ministers that they have the right to proceed in purchasing the Castle Toward Estate.

The group are holding an informal tea and coffee afternoon on Sunday the 28th of September from 1pm at the Innellan Village Hall in Argyll and Bute to bring locals up to date with their progress so far.


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