Bonawe School buy-out bid moves closer

Secretary of The Ardchattan Centre Sian Griffiths has submitted a bid for the second stage of Scottish Land Fund help to buy Bonawe School.

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Ardchattan community is moving another step closer to buying  Bonawe School.

Sian Griffiths who is secretary of The Ardchattan Centre has now submitted an application for a second-helping of money from the Scottish Land Fund and the outcome should be known by October.

The project team behind The Ardchattan Centre has been working with Argyll and Bute Council and other partners to get the ambition of turning the former school building into a bustling community hub.

As part of a ‘radical rethink’ on how the project will work post COVID-19, project workers are looking for more input from the community to help draw up a new plan and a Zoom meeting will be organised soon to help explore ideas.

Initial plans had included using the centre for workshops, evening classes, a bakery and cafe, as well as a meeting space for the whole community and for events – the idea of providing holiday accommodation had also been part of the package.

Mrs Griffiths told us: ‘Tourism won’t be the same for quite a while because of COVID, it was going to be a big earner to help us cover self-financing costs for the centre – if we get the school. Providing holiday accommodation had been one of the money-making ideas. We will have to have a rethink of some of the plans.’

The project had already received £6,360 as  first-stage funding from the Scottish Land Fund hailing it as another milestone in its quest to transform the school premises into a centre-for-all.

The second chunk of funding, if successful, will cover the cost of the community buy out. The school has been valued.

The SLF bid that has just gone in, is for the second-stage of funding to move it nearer its goal of buying the school from the council.

The first allocation of SLF money was used  to fund feasibility work from surveyors, valuers, structural engineers and an architect, making sure the building would be an asset for the community for years to come and not a burden.

The project was also previously awarded £10,000 funding from the Scottish Government’s Launch Me fund to help progress its five-year business plan if an asset transfer from Argyll and Bute Council for community ownership went ahead.

Council members have already agreed a recommendation from officers that education at Bonawe School would be permanently discontinued from October 31 last year and it was finally approved by Scottish Ministers earlier this year.

Profits eventually made from the centre, once established, would be put to purpose, running more community services. An electric bus, with a charging point at the centre, was requested by 66 per cent of people who responded to an earlier wish-list survey.