Today, February the 17th 2015, South Cowal Community Development Company received confirmation that its community right to buy of the Castle Toward Estate had been "extinguished" from the government files. In an email from the Land Unit in Edinburgh the Scottish Ministers concluded that since the date for renewal had past on Friday the 13th of Feburary and due to no agreement being reached with the seller of Castle Toward, Argyll and Bute council, that the buyout would now be deleted from the governments records, bringing the community buyout to an end. Here is a copy for the email received by the community group.
Our ref: CB00166
17 February 2015
Dear Mr Stewart
SOUTH COWAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMPANY (SCCDC)
LaND AT CastLE Toward Estate, South Cowal, Argyll
PART 2 OF THE LAND REFORM (SCOTLAND) ACT 2003
We have received notification from Argyll and Bute Council (ABC), (the landowner), that the extended deadline for the purchase of the land known as Castle Toward Estate, South Cowal, Argyll, has now passed.
The extended deadline for completing the transfer of the registered land under application CB00166, was 13 February 2015, and as we have received confirmation that no extension has been agreed (under the terms of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (the Act)) between SCCDC and ABC, section 56(5) of the Act is activated. The effect of this provision is to extinguish the registration from the Register of Community Interests in Land and to lift the prohibition placed on the land by Scottish Ministers.
In effect, ABC are now, from the date of this letter, free to market and then transfer that land which was subject to registration CB00166.
A copy of this letter is being sent to ABC for information.
On behalf of Scottish Ministers
The email from the government is the final confirmation to the community group that the dream of purchasing the Castle Toward estate for their community is over. The email was not unexpected by the community group as they had sought during the previous week to plead with the local council to accept thier offer of £850 thousand pounds for the estate, sadly Argyll and Bute council turned their offer down. The council then proceeded to withdraw its delegtation from negoiations effectively pullling the plug on the community right to buy. This has lead to a huge backlash against locally elected councillors in Dunoon. The collapse of the Castle Toward community buyout was reported widely in the local and national media and has lead some to ask if the community Right to buy legislation is in tatters. Here are a few examples of the coverage.
Since the announcement locals in Cowal have been contacting newspapers, taking to social media forums in thier droves and writing yet more emails and letters to councillors demanding answers about how Castle Toward's buyout was allowed to fail.The community group have been sounding out residents and the wider local community to see what they would like them to do next.
One thing is for the certain - the community buyout is over, but maybe the battle for Castle Toward has just begun.