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16 May 2018

A luxury purchase?

A quote in the Scotsman from one of Scotland’s leading property consultants caught the eye. “For most buyers an estate is a luxury purchase to enjoy, not unlike a superyacht or a Lamborghini.”  The idea that the purchase of an estate could be described as little more than a gaudy show of wealth is in part what drives the community land movement on. Perhaps in the interests of her ‘continuing professional development’ that property consultant should take a trip to Ulva and gain some insights into what owning land actually means to the people who live there.


 

By The National

ISLANDERS on Ulva and neighbouring north-west Mull have concluded negotiations to buy the 4900-acre Ulva Estate.


Ownership will transfer to the North West Mull Community Woodland Company (NWMCWC) on June 21. It is aiming to “bring about social and economic development” of Ulva to benefit the current community and for future generations.


NWMCWC chairman, Colin Morrison, said: “To say we are extremely grateful to all our supporters and to the various funding agencies, organisations and individuals would be an understatement.


 “We cannot thank everyone enough, not just for the financial support, but also the encouragement we’ve been given throughout the process.


“We have been heartened by the degree of interest and depth of support we have received from official agencies, commercial organisations and also private individuals at home and abroad.”


The community buyout bid was launched a year ago when its owner, Jamie Howard, put the estate on the market after it had been in his family for more than 70 years.


Most of the £4.4 million purchase price and help with project management during the first two years of community ownership will come from the Scottish Land Fund.


Ulva was the birthplace of Lachlan Macquarie, who is seen by many as the “Father of Australia” and the National Trust for Australia has offered to help promote the tourism opportunities for visiting his birthplace.More than 500 individuals from around the world contributed to it through the Ulva Buyout JustGiving crowdfunding page. Community fundraising efforts – such as jumble sales and pop-up cafes – also played their part in raising money and awareness of the project.


Support also came from a range of local and national organisations, including Mull and Iona Community Trust, Mull Fishermen’s Association, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Woodland Trust Scotland, Community Land Scotland, Rural Housing Scotland and the Community Woodlands Association.


Ulva has a population of just six people, including three children, but the buyout includes residents of north-west Mull.


John Addy, a director of NWMCWC, told The National that redevelopment was one of their main aims: “One of the things we’ll be doing is launching a recruitment campaign for a development manager. The land fund grant also helps us manage the project for the first couple of years including a development manager post.


“The top priority is renovation of the existing housing stock. There are six modest houses on the island all of which need renovation. There’s the big house of course, Ardalum House, which was a hostel, so there’s a lot of properties to be done up and we’ll have to get on to that as fast as we can. Our population is microscopic, but once we get these six existing houses done up then potentially we can get it up to around 20 people. We’re hoping to get planning set up for new-builds as well so we can see it reaching 20 to 30 in the short-term, but in the long-term 50 plus would be a reasonable target.”


Addy said another priority was re-population of Ulva: “It’s very difficult for young people to get access to land here because of the holiday market, so under community ownership we can make land and property available. We’re not motivated by profit. As long as the venture washes its face and we can meet our commitments for maintenance and things, we’ll be happy.”


Land Reform Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “This is ground-breaking news, not just for the local communities on Mull and Ulva, but for community empowerment across Scotland ... The community group can now press ahead with their ambitious plans to repopulate the island, and regenerate the local economy.” More than 500 individuals from around the world contributed to it through the Ulva Buyout JustGiving crowdfunding page. Community fundraising efforts – such as jumble sales and pop-up cafes – also played their part in raising money and awareness of the project.


Support also came from a range of local and national organisations, including Mull and Iona Community Trust, Mull Fishermen’s Association, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Woodland Trust Scotland, Community Land Scotland, Rural Housing Scotland and the Community Woodlands Association.


 

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