After years of effort, community group lodges £2.7M bid for Morvern estate

Tilly Painter Jones is one of the eight directors of the community group behind the bid. NO F21 Tilly Painter Jones Killundine Steading copyright Tilly Painter Jones
Tilly Painter Jones is one of the eight directors of the community group behind the bid. NO F21 Tilly Painter Jones Killundine Steading copyright Tilly Painter Jones

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After three years of community effort, Morvern Community Woodlands (MCW) has submitted a £2.7 million bid to the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the 2,500 hectare (6,000 acre) Killundine Estate in
Morvern.

The vision for the project is to create ‘a living, working 21st-century estate promoting the repopulation and regeneration of Morvern and the conservation of its natural environment’.

Morvern is a fragile community with an ageing population of around 350 and a falling school roll. There is currently no one living on the Killundine Estate and it supports no full-time local employment.

Tilly Painter Jones, one of the eight directors of MCW, told the Lochaber Times: ‘This buyout will turn around a neglected estate and bring opportunities to local people.

‘Post- COVID-19 it will bring housing and jobs and reverse depopulation. It will increase the economic and environmental resilience of the peninsula and its people and help tackle other major issues like climate change.’

The estate is made up of farm land, forestry, hills, woodland and five properties, all currently unoccupied.

A bluebell wood on the estate. Photograph: Jim Manthorpe. NO F21 Bluebells Killundine Estate copyright Jim Manthorpe
A bluebell wood on the estate. Photograph: Jim Manthorpe.

A feasibility study and detailed business plan completed as part of the bid have confirmed the viability of managing the estate as mixed farmland and woodland with the establishment of new crofts and affordable housing supported by income from timber.

A local resident from the nearby village of Lochaline resident added: ‘Having my own croft would not only help me realise a life-long personal ambition, it would inspire the younger generation to come back into crofting. Productive use of land for agriculture, stock or arable is very important to me.’

It is the integration of modern crofting with sustainable, wildlife-friendly development that lies at the heart of the bid. In its first phase this includes the sale of affordable housing plots, the creation of six new crofts, the development of a local tree nursery and wildlife tourism linked with the
Scottish wildcat – for which Morvern is a priority area.

The bid, which will be decided later this month, has been the subject of extensive local consultation. It is supported by Ian Blackford MP and Kate Forbes MSP, Morvern Community Council and Morvern Community Development Company.