The Findhorn Village Conservation Company (TFVCC) are celebrating after becoming official land owners at Findhorn Village, thanks to a successful application to the Scottish Land Fund.
The community group was able to purchase the land from Novar Estates after receiving a £520,000 grant from the Fund, which is led by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Big Lottery Fund Scotland. Now, TFVCC have developed plans that will improve resident and visitor amenity, provide educational opportunities on the land and develop income generating projects.
TFVCC was formed in 2011 as a result of concerns over declining economic diversity, the fragility of existing businesses and lack of opportunities and housing for young people in the village. Conversations soon followed with landowner Novar Estates to sell land around Findhorn Bay to the community. Novar Estates owned many parcels of land around Findhorn Bay including 61 hectares of amenity land to the north of the village and 800 hectares of the foreshore and intertidal land adjacent to the village. Therefore, when land became available for sale, TFVCC jumped at the chance to acquire it.
Peter Hall of The Findhorn Village Conservation Company (TFVCC), said: “We are absolutely thrilled that this land now belongs to our community. We are very excited by the potential this gives us and we are looking at introducing amenities that will not only improve the site for visitors but also bring income into the local economy and in conjunction with members of the community, investigate potential development projects.”
Ailsa Raeburn, head of community assets at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), added “I am delighted that TFVCC has been successful in acquiring this piece of land. HIE has supported TFVCC throughout the application process and I think this project is a real inspiration for other groups who are considering owning their assets. We know from our experience that ownership empowers communities. By owning land, property and other assets, communities can generate income, create jobs, provide vital services, and undertake other projects that retain and attract new people to their area.”
HIE part funded a feasibility study and business plan of the project and supported TFVCC with its application to the Scottish Land Fund towards the total land purchase price of £520,000. TFVCC, in negotiation with Novar Estates, agreed a price. HIE also funded visits to other groups so TFVCC could seek advice and support from communities who were already landowners.