Numerous Suggestions Made in Community Consultation Meetings How to Make our Community a Better Place to Live.
To ensure a sustainable future for our community, the Wanlockhead Community Trust has embarked on a collaborative effort with the Scottish Government to buy property in and around our village. We hope that by initiating this buyout process with the government and the primary landowner, Queensberry Estate, we will be able to ensure an economically viable and sustainable future for our home; one which will safeguard the integrity and conservation of our natural and historic heritage while allowing for healthy business and community development.
Community Consultation Meetings
In order to put together the most comprehensive buyout proposal possible, we are currently focused on getting ideas from Wanlockhead residents regarding what our village needs in terms of services, businesses, initiatives and amenities. Many of you came to one of our recent community consultation meetings that we held where we asked folks to outline their visions for Wanlockhead. These meetings were highly productive not to mention fun and we sincerely thank everyone who took the time to come to them.
Priorities Outlined in Meetings
Folks did not lack for creativity. Approximately ninety items were underscored by locals as possibilities to consider in the buyout plan. That said several discrete and at times overlapping themes were highlighted in people’s comments. These ideas could be categorized as belonging to the following categories: 1) village amenities (such as industrial units), 2) tourism, 3) agriculture, 4) renewable energy and 5) habitat creation/tree-planting/forestry. Specific popular items that were repeatedly listed as high priorities include: 1) a village shop, 2) a visitor centre (other than the museum), 3) a better playpark/facilities for children and youth and 4) more spaces for business development and community events. Other popular recurring items included: 1) community gardens, 2) hiking and biking trails, 3) reforestation projects for our riparian areas/development of sustainable woodlands and 4) the need to further highlight key historic sites (such as the Coffin Trail) and natural areas (such as our moorland) for enhanced visitor education and use.
Ideas ranged from creating new bothies on the Southern Upland Way and spaces for tourism-related businesses within the village to building mushroom farms, football pitches and curling rinks. Many cited the need for the community to better maintain or develop already existing assets such as paths, roads and available housing units in future planning schemes. Others cited their desire for Wanlockhead residents to better manage our local environment, including the creation of a Scottish Meadow and high elevation Scottish Woodland. There could also be the possibility for us developing our own energy resources. This could be managed through the planning of a small hydro-power scheme or through the erection of a few small, carefully sited and locally managed wind turbines.
Speaking of environmental priorities, many view the Mennock Pass as a huge asset to Wanlockhead in terms of providing camping, hiking and recreational opportunities for locals and visitors. However, there are major concerns about the area due to ongoing littering issues and poor camping practices. There are many other places around Wanlockhead that we hold near and dear to our hearts. During the coming weeks, we will continue to gather ideas regarding community needs as well as prospective estate lands that we will need to include in our final proposal.
Community Consultation Report
By late June of this year, the Wanlockhead Community Trust will present a Community Consultation Report to Wanlockhead residents. This report will not only include a final accounting of all ideas advanced by locals but also a draft proposal regarding the buyout effort. Our proposal will include the recommendation of several feasible high priority projects for the initial project as well as recommendations regarding the buyout of important lands owned by Queensberry Estate that we would like to include in the project. The final product will be extremely useful when it comes to future meetings with the Scottish Government and the Duke of Buccleuch. The report will also be invaluable when it comes to our development of a “feasibility study” with the Scottish Government. This study will recommend initial project ideas and land buyout possibilities that will be first taken forward.
More Public Involvement- Fieldtrips and Meetings
We will be holding more consultation meetings with residents to review the proposed Community Consultation Report and draft buyout proposal in June. We will also be organizing free fieldtrips to the Mull of Galloway (to the Mull of Galloway Trust’s “Smugglers Weekend” from July 9-10) and to other communities that have successfully engaged in successful buyout efforts. We will post more information on these events on our website and publicize them on social media and through leaflets. For simplicity sake, a timeline for our campaign’s future efforts is included below. Please contact the Trust if you have project ideas for the land buyout scheme in our area or get in touch with one of our volunteer board members listed on our website. Alternatively you can attend one of our Sunday evening meetings; we meet every third Sunday night of the month at 7:30 PM at the Wanlockhead Inn. We would love your continued involvement.
Thank you for your help and for your hard work! These are exciting times! As a community, we can make this happen!
PROPOSED WANLOCKHEAD LAND BUYOUT
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
PUBLIC MEETING – STEERING GROUP FORMED
April – May 2016
PUBLIC MEETING TO PRESENT COMMUNITY CONSULTATION REPORT AND DRAFT COMMUNITY BUYOUT PROPOSAL
MEETING WITH BUCCLEUCH TO DISCUSS POTENTIAL COMMUNITY BUYOUT SCENARIOS
July – August 2016
VILLAGE VISITS TO OTHER COMMUNITIES WHO MANAGE THEIR LAND OPEN TO ALL – MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW
FEASIBILITY STUDY OF A COMMUNITY-OWNED WANLOCKHEAD TO BE PRESENTED TO THE VILLAGE
HOLD COMMUNITY BALLOT ON PROPOSED BUYOUT
If the village votes NO: End of project, no community purchase of land will be taken forward.
If the village votes YES and Buccleuch is willing to sell: The village to proceed to buyout after final ballot on terms and conditions.
If the village votes YES and Buccleuch is not willing to sell: A case will be presented to the Scottish Government under terms of the new Land Reform legislation.