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Glengarry Community Woodlands has been awarded a grant of £197,026 from the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) for the purchase of 47 hectares of land at Ardochy.
The grant award was announced recently by SLF and follows three years of project planning. It will allow Glengarry Community Woodlands (GCW) to buy the land and deliver a project in partnership with the Communities Housing Trust (CHT) and the Woodland Crofts Partnership (WCP).
Together, the three organisations intend to establish six new woodland crofts and four new affordable homes on the land at Ardochy.
The land, which is part of Ardochy Forest, will be transferred to the community from the Scottish Government via Forestry and Land Scotland’s Community Asset Transfer Scheme.
It lies alongside Loch Garry and the road to Kinlochourn, from the junction at the A87 to the boundary with the Mowi plant at Inchlaggan. CHT will be acquiring 19 hectares of adjacent forest, to deliver their elements of the project.
Development of the croft and housing project followed a consultation process in which the community were asked to have their say on the future of the land.
Access to both housing and land were highlighted as important issues throughout the responses, reinforcing GCW’s confidence in the relevance of the project and giving GCW a strong mandate for the project.
GCW was established in 2016 after the community purchased a 31-hectare forest in Invergarry through the National Forest Land Scheme. Since then, the community-run organisation has been working to establish a social enterprise in the woodland, as well as looking at ways that it can manage land to address the community’s needs.
Woodland crofts are crofts with sufficient tree cover overall to be considered woodland. Like any croft, they confer a mixture of rights and responsibilities on crofters, but based on management of the forest.
The model can support both lifestyles and livelihoods, and has particular potential to deliver low-carbon living.
The new affordable homes will be managed with the Rural Housing Burden which allows the community to set an allocation criteria.
The project is a local response to the wider issues of housing in the Highlands where access to housing has put pressure on the sustainability of rural communities such as Glengarry.
The crofts will similarly be protected from speculation to ensure their benefits are retained within the community upon any future change of occupation.
GCW chairperson, Joanna Rodgers, said the organisation was delighted to receive this support from the Scottish Land Fund, which will enable the community’s plans for woodland crofts and affordable housing to proceed at Ardochy.
‘This is a pivotal moment for Glengarry as this project will provide young people and families with much-needed opportunities to remain in the area and to generate income through the sustainable management of this local woodland,’ she added.
Main contractor for the WCP, Jamie McIntyre, said: ‘We’re delighted to see SLF funding confirmed to make this project a reality.
‘The approach pioneered here by GCW of working in partnership to deliver badly needed crofts is one which is transferable to other communities, and one which we hope will be taken up more widely.
‘We’d also like to thank the Scottish Government for funding support in the development of this project.’
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, added: ‘This is a fantastic example of holistic rural development targeting regeneration and repopulation that will also benefit both the economy and the environment.
‘It demonstrates positive land use and stewardship, and we’re delighted to be working with GCW and WCP to take the project forward. A combination of genuinely affordable homes and woodland crofts, spearheaded by the local community, is a great model to support.’