Hopes of a community buyout of land at Wanlockhead owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, Richard Scott, were raised this week aftera grant was secured to help put together a business plan.
The Scottish Land Fund has awarded £25,000 to Wanlockhead Community Trust for a feasibility study and business plan for its proposed buyout of 14,600 acres of land around Scotland’s highest village.
The Wanlockhead community buyout is one of the biggest planned in southern Scotland.
The land in question, currently owned by the 10th duke, the largest private landowner in Scotland, includes part of the Southern Upland Way, the country’s most southerly ski slope, a museum of lead mining and the Wanlockhead Inn, the highest pub in Scotland.
It is known for its stunning scenery, its rich mining history and hosting outdoor activites such as hillwalking, mountain biking and gold-panning.
Members of the local community propose to run the land in a way that they say would create more employment and increase tourism.
Successful community buyouts have taken place of crofting land in the north, and last year members of the trust went to Lewis and Harris to see how community groups run things there.
“We’re very grateful to the Scottish Government for its generosity and for the tremendous opportunity that this grant now affords us,” said trust chairman Lincoln Richford.
“This funding will help us move a few steps closer to charting a sustainable future for Wanlockhead and a brighter future for our residents.”
The trust has now appointed a team led by Urban Animation, an Edinburgh-based planning and urban design consultancy, to draft a feasibility study for the community buyout proposal.
Using a community consultation report developed by residents in 2016, the consultancy team will work with villagers on the study and look further into ideas already put forward.
Richard Heggie, director of Urban Animation said, “There’s an opportunity for the residents of Wanlockhead to create a bright future.
“The community has already raised the exciting prospect of the village becoming the focus of a popular tourism destination.
“Our job is to look at how this and other options can be become a reality.”
“It’s really all about creating a sustainable future for the community of Wanlockhead.”