The Scottish Land Fund has today (29 December) awarded £230,000 to support the community land purchase of the Pairc Estate on the Isle of Lewis. News of the award to The Pairc Trust marks an important milestone in the ten year journey by the islanders to pursue community ownership of the 26,775 acre area of land.
In Dumfries and Galloway, Johnstonebridge Centre and Community Development Trust also receives £99,437 from the Scottish Land Fund to bring four plots of local land into community ownership. The group will also employ a new part time development officer thanks to the funding. Plans for developing the currently unused land include the community development of an allotment area and community garden, and a site for new affordable housing.
Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, John Watt, said: “I am delighted that the Scottish Land Fund is able to help the Pairc community look to a future that is stronger, resilient and more sustainable. Congratulations also go to Johnstonebridge Centre and Community Development Trust, a great example of local people working together to take control of their own futures.”
Announcing the funding, Environment Secretary Paul Wheelhouse said the final pieces of the Pairc Estate funding package, which will also allow for the appointment of a full-time development manager, “marked the end of a ten-year journey” for the local residents on Lewis, who could now look forward to a more sustainable future with their destiny now placed firmly in their own hands.
With funding also secured from Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, The Pairc Trust will be able to pursue the purchase for £500,000 under an amicable agreement with the landowner that should allow settlement early in 2014.
With the purchase of the Pair Estate now firmly in the hands of the community, Chairman of Pairc Trust, Angus McDowall, said: “This substantial award from the Scottish Land Fund, together with financial support obtained from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and HIE, will enable us to purchase the Estate through an amicable transfer on the terms outlined and approved at the public meeting last month. I am most grateful to the Scottish Land Fund, and our other funders, for their very valuable assistance. There now seems every prospect of concluding arrangements to transfer the Estate to the community during the early months of 2014.’
Meanwhile in Dumfries and Galloway, Fred Dale, Chairman, Johnstonebridge Centre and Community Development Trust, welcomed the group’s Scottish Land Fund award. He said: “The Parish of Johnstone and the village of Johnstonebridge are delighted to hear this news. We look forward to the future development of the land to improve the well-being of our community. The prospects for the village will be further enhanced by the design and construction of community gardens at two prominent places in the village. We intend to make full use of our new land purchase for everyone’s benefit, both for current and future generations.”
The Scottish Land Fund is funded by £9m from the Scottish Government and administered by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Visit the Big Lottery Fund website for more information.