Community Update, 18th January 2019

Happy New Year from Wanlockhead Community Trust. Please find enclosed a copy of the Wanlockhead buyout newsletter which has been put through the letterboxes in the village this week.



Two years ago, on the 16th of January 2016, in one of the largest village meetings held in Wanlockhead in recent years, a public meeting at Wanlockhead Community Centre launched the idea of a community land buyout in the village. Significant resident support was shown to explore the potential for community ownership of Wanlockhead, which resulted in the formal constitution of the Wanlockhead Community Trust.

Whilst many rural communities around Scotland have purchased private estate land and assets and now manage the land with community interests at the heart, community land buyouts are still a novelty here in the south of Scotland. Unlike other areas in Scotland, Wanlockhead doesn't have any community-owned village nearby where we can all look to find out what does a community owned area look like, how does a buyout work, what types of things can you do, or what are the benefits to the local community.

Over the past two years a number of villagers have volunteered to look into the possibilities and intricacies of a potential land buyout in Wanlockhead. A land reform legislation compliant Wanlockhead Community Trust was organised. Several strands of funding were applied for. Fact-finding trips were organised for villagers to visit community-owned estates in Lewis, Harris, Isle of Mull, and Mull of Galloway. A community consultation was carried out to guide the initial investigations of a potential buyout. Many hours of meetings, correspondence, and networking took place. High profile cross-party political support for a Wanlockhead buyout was publicly given. The Scottish Land Fund awarded funding towards a feasibility study of a community-owned Wanlockhead. And finally, near the end of last year, Buccleuch Estates finally confirmed they might be willing to transfer to Wanlockhead the ownership of 4,000 acres of land around the village.

So, what's going to happen in 2019?

+ Two years of discussions with Buccleuch are now slowly reaching conclusion as talks narrow down on the potential conditions of sale of the land to the village. We hope to conclude these discussions over the early part of 2019.
+ One of Scotland's most experienced solicitors in land reform matters, Harper mcLeod LLP, is currently assisting Wanlockhead Community Trust with the legalities of this stage of discussions.
+ Now that Buccleuch has formally put an area of land on the table, the feasibility study for a community-owned Wanlockhead can be finalised. Together with award-winning consultant Urban Animation, we'll present a draft vision for community ownership to another public event as soon as we can.

Once all this is brought together, a land buyout proposal will be presented to the village for your input and later a vote where the community decides whether we want to own the land around us or not.

The coming months are going to be busy as the work carried out by your fellow villagers comes to a fruition. The next newsletter update should contain already more details about timescales, forthcoming public meetings, and community consultations. In the meantime, best wishes for the new year and see you at the next monthly open meeting at the Community Centre.

- - - More info? Want to speak with someone? - - -

The Trust will be holding further public meetings in the near future, look out for our newsletters. Wanlockhead Community Trust continues to hold open meetings in the Community Centre on the third Sunday of every month, look out for notices on village facebook pages, and village noticeboards. You are always welcome to contact the Trust, individual directors contact details are available on the website .