Funding secures school buy-out bid

Ardchattan Centre committee celebrate the funding news outside the old school buildings. Photo by Emily Lavis-Jones.

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Ardchattan is celebrating securing the funding to buy its former school and turn it into a community hub.

Ardchattan Centre has been awarded £52,000 to make the purchase, including the school house next door to it, from Argyll and Bute Council.

The former Bonawe school, Ardchattan.

Breege Smith, chairperson of Ardchattan Centre, said: ‘We are overjoyed with the award. Our ambition to transform this building into the cultural and social hub that our community desperately needs has taken a major step forward.’

Oban North and Lorn councillor Elaine Robertson said: ‘What a fantastic result!   Many congratulations to The Ardchattan Centre Group for their unwavering commitment and belief in this project.  I am absolutely delighted to hear the Ardchattan school buildings will be brought back to life, once again, providing a centre for the community in this rural and very beautiful area. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Scottish Land Fund and Argyll and Bute Council for their vital support which is enabling this project to become a reality.’

A radical rethink is ongoing with the public’s input about how the project will work post Covid. Plans are being thought out and ideas being explored.

Using the old Bonawe school for workshops, evening classes, a bakery and cafe, as well as a meeting space for the community and for events were among initial plans and so was providing holiday accommodation.

The project had already received £6,360 as first-stage funding from the Scottish Land Fund to kickstart it and help with feasibility work to make sure the building would be an asset.

Another £10,000 was received from the Scottish Government’s Launch Me fund to help progress a five-year business plan if community ownership went ahead.

The new funding award, announced today September 16, is part of a £544,576 Scottish Land Fund package being split between five local ownership initiatives in Argyll.

One of the other projects is Inverawe Community Woodlands that has been awarded £25,762 to buy an ancient area of woods to clear it of invasive species, open up pedestrian access and encourage wildlife.

John Bergant, chairperson of Inverawe Community Woodland, said the project was ‘absolutely delighted’ to have received the grant that would allow it to buy the ground.

‘There were times when we thought this day would never come. However, we can now very much look forward to getting started on our modest plans for the ground,’ he said.

The Argyll initiatives are among 21 projects across Scotland to share in a total of £1,667,987 as part of the recent round of grants from the Scottish Land Fund.

John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chairman, added: ‘Groups from all across
Scotland are making a real impact to their communities with a wide range of ambitious
projects that deliver tangible benefits to the people who live there. The Scottish Land Fund is delighted to be able to support them.’