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Welcome to the Scottish Community Land Network

This site is for people interested in the management and ownership of land-based assets by communities in Scotland. A Scottish Community Land Network, you might say... As you know the internet is a big 'place' with everything about anything so we brought you relevant news and events, and provide opportunities to share ideas with other people interested in this subject. There are almost 1000 members, and more than 800 articles in our archive.

 

Scottish Community Land Network will not be kept up-to-date after March 2012. However, a new site is being produced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and details will be published on this site as soon as they are available.

The most recent articles are available on the home page - previous articles are in their relevant topic areas (browse the 'Topics' menu on the left).

From Bath to a washing machine...

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It’s not often that you’d think to connect Wick and Bath, no rx and but that’s exactly what Thomas Telford did.  Commissioned to design Lower Pulteneytown in Wick as a self-contained fishing community, ampoule Telford apparently based his plans on the architectural themes of the famous spa town.  Arriving in Wick now, cialis it’s hard to pick out Telford’s original vision.  Dominated by big retailers on the northern and southern outskirts, the town seems to have lost some of its spirit, along with its fishing industry.

Fresh from the tourist trail on the west coast, I was almost tempted to skip straight through and beetle on down to the more reliable delights of Golspie.  But I’d arranged to meet up with the Pulteneytown People’s Project, so I negotiated the labyrinth of roads on the south of the harbour, searching for their offices.  Lost in the maze of Telford designed streets, I passed the inconspicuous Old Pulteney whisky distillery at least three times before I finally found my destination.

Julie, their admin manager, had already warned me they were based in council houses, but walking up the path to the front door I felt more like a double glazing salesman than a community group visitor.  Stepping inside, it didn’t become much clearer, with people emerging and disappearing into different rooms like a busy family Christmas.

WickharbourBut Julie, along with all the other staff and the local residents, hopes it won’t always be this way.  Since the project was formed in 2004, they’ve rapidly increased their staffing levels and the number of activities they offer.  And now they’re hoping to relocate to a new multi-purpose community centre on waste land adjacent to the landmark distillery.  But first, they’ve got to build it.  The aim is for the centre to house the project team, plus a mix of community activities, training and employers all under one roof.  The plans include sports facilities, a small theatre venue, an internet café, a crèche and classrooms, along with office accommodation for small local businesses.

Whilst there’s no doubt I was impressed at the scale of the plans and at the need for such a centre in the area, I wondered how they’d ever pull together funding for such a grand plan.  But surprisingly, it seems they’re pretty much there.  So far they’ve confirmed £3.8million of funding so I asked Julie to fill me in on how they bought together so much funding for one project.

“It certainly wasn’t easy!  I guess one of the main problems was getting the first person to commit.  A lot of folk were enthusiastic about the plans, but kept telling us to come back when we’d got some money – no-one wanted to be the first to stick their neck out.  Eventually the Big lottery fund gave us £1million, which made it a lot easier to lever money out of some of the other funders.  Now we’ve got commitments from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Government Wider Role fund, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Robertson Trust, Community Energy Scotland, Score Environment and the European Regional Development Fund, so we’re pretty much on target.  Plus we’ve got funding from the Scottish Investment Fund which is 50% grant / 50% loan mix.

And then, even when you’ve got a lot of funding in place, it’s a bit of a battle to get the timings right – you’ll get part way into one set of funding so that clock’s ticking and you’ve got to get other funding going as quickly as you can.”

It was all sounding a bit of a potential minefield and I wondered if Julie’s response to a question on advice to others might not be printable.  But she was remarkably pragmatic:

“Definitely think about timescales right at the start and add a bit – everything takes longer than you expect.  And make sure you account for the cost of extras, like a solicitor.  In fact, it’s best to have a pot of money for contingencies, because you’ll never manage to think of everything at the outset.  And watch for VAT – whenever I think I’ve got the VAT sorted, HMRC seem to move the goalposts again.  I think it’s probably best to get professional advice on VAT if you’re thinking about a new build project – it can be a minefield.  You need to be sure about what you really need as well - because any changes you make after awarding a building contract will cost extra.  We’ve got a washing machine here that some of our clients need to use, but we forgot all about including one in the new centre.  Fortunately someone remembered in the nick of time and added it in, but otherwise we’d have been in trouble with the builders.”

Site for the proposed community centreWhen I left the office, I called in past the distillery – again.  But this time it was deliberate – I wanted to have a look at the adjacent waste ground where the community centre will go.  Looking at the scruffy grassland, it was hard to visualise a gleaming new centre in its place.  But I was glad that Julie and the team at the People’s Project could – there’s no doubt that the area needs all the help it can get and the centre will offer real benefits to local people.  With a bit of luck, and no more hassle from the taxman, the centre should be built by the end of next year, but you can find out more and see how the project progresses on their website.

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