Castle Toward Buy Out in jeopardy
SCCDC were extremely disappointed to find that the council appears to not have put in every effort that was needed in evaluating the copious information that was requested of us back in early September, particularly given the potential that this project has to transform the area. And, as a team, SCCDC are now extremely concerned that there will be insufficient time left from the new date set of 18th December when the local authority will now discuss our plea and allow the project to succeed. We have asked for an extension beyond the 31st December, however the decision on this will not be made until the meeting itself.
The Council had originally been due to consider accepting £750k for the estate at policy and resources committee meeting on August the 21st but delayed this until October 30th in order to obtain additional information which we duly presented to them by September 30th. We agreed with the council at this time to extend the completion deadline until December 31st. Ordinarily this should have given the SCCDC sufficient time to attempt to find alternative sources of funding should the council decline the £750k. The matter was due to be raised again at full council on November the 27th - this motion also rescheduled, with less than 24 hours notice, and it is now to be discussed at the last possible meeting of the year on December the 18th. However the new deadline of the 18th of December means that should the council insist on the full amount then there will be no time for us to find the extra and the project will ultimately fail. We had raised concerns about this previously. If a deadline extension is refused the council will then automatically be free to dispose of the property as they see fit.
As a community, we have managed to attract a client that will ultimately create 100 jobs, and the whole project will bring £10 million in investment funding and put around £850k into the local economy every year, creating a legacy that the community can use, and enjoy, for the foreseeable future. The local authority and every councillor are in possession of this information.
We are in discussions with a major national company with sound financial backing and a proven track record who are very keen to locate to South Cowal. However they have stated that, should the community Right to Buy fail, they will not pursue a purchase of the estate directly from the council. The costs involved in renovating the building, combined with the purchase of the estate and upgrading of facilities make the project uneconomical.
There is a great risk that this project may fail due to what could only be described as a lack of urgency in response to our reduction request. As a community group we could not have done more. We have satisfied the Scottish Government, Scottish Land Fund, HIE and the community that we have a viable project, however it would appear we do not yet have full support of the local authority or those in power at a local level.
Some wider press covearge to the reaction of delays in the Castle Toward community Buy Out. Courtesy of The Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard and The National.