Land buyout from Duke of Buccleuch gets go ahead

The first of a string of historic community land buyouts in the Borders has been completed - putting land back into the hands of villagers from one of the UK’s most powerful landowners after almost 225 years.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 7:30 am
Newcastleton is the first of the Buccleuch community buyouts to be completed.

Newcastleton and District Community Trust’s (NDCT) concluded their purchase of 750 acres of land, known as Holm Hill, from the Duke of Buccleuch’s Borders Estate, after securing cash for the initiative in June from the Scottish Land Fund.

The completion paves the way for two separate community land buyouts from the Buccleuch Estate, which are currently under negotiation.

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Proposals being considered for the site include a multipurpose building incorporating the golf course clubhouse, star gazing accommodation”, camping for events, glamping for bikers and walkers, new walking routes, buggy walks and e-trails as well as new mountain bike trails.

The Trust has argued that the land was taken from Scots in the lowland clearances, saying the village has been economically “stifled” since 1793 when Henry Scott, the third duke, created the township for displaced crofters.

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, said: “This is a very significant community buy out and demonstrates what can be achieved through people working shoulder to shoulder in order to turn hopes and dreams into reality. We are delighted to have worked alongside the Newcastleton and District Community Trust, whose passion and commitment is tremendous.

“We heartily congratulate the Trust team who spared no effort in ensuring the transfer of this land has been completed as quickly and smoothly as possible. We look forward to watching their plans come to fruition.”

Buccleuch has been reducing the footprint of its landholdings in the last decade and has sold approximately 30,000 acres of land in this period to farmers and community organisations.

It is currently in dialogue with two further community groups at Wanlockhead and Langholm over their community buyout proposals.

The group behind the Langholm project say that community ownership of Langholm Moor would enable the Langholm Initiative to develop a new National Nature Reserve and capture ongoing revenue from the asset, as well as providing a platform to unlock further community-led enterprise development and job creation. Meanwhile, at Wanlockhead, locals plan to invest in tourism, local businesses and visitor attractions such as gold-panning and bird-watching sites. after agreeing a deal to pay £1.5m for 3863 acres of land.

Newcastleton and District Community Trust was not available for comment.

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