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Landowners salute success of community buyout scheme

Scottish Land & Estates, which represents landowners throughout Scotland, today welcomed the imminent community buyout of land in Dumfries & Galloway.
Johnstonebridge Centre and Community Development Trust will bring four plots of local land into community ownership on January 17 when it receives £100,000 from the Scottish Land Fund to help finance the buyout from a private developer, with the community funding the final five per cent.
The purchase comes after a long process of engagement between the community representatives, Annandale Estates and funding organisations.
The land was originally part of Annandale Estates before it was sold for development in 2006. When the developer suffered financial problems during the economic downturn, Annandale Estates worked with the local trust to provide guidance on purchasing the plots for community ownership.
Now, the land will be used for allotments and also affordable housing, which will be operated in conjunction with the Dumfries & Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust.
As part of the larger community project, Annandale Estates has also gifted land to Johnstone Parish on which to build a new community hall with outdoor sports/play facilities and are working with the trust to apply for lottery funding to help with building costs.
Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The imminent community purchase of land at Johnstonebridge is terrific news for all involved and is a perfect illustration of the community and landowners working together for everyone’s benefit.
“In this case, Annandale Estates was not only able to gift land to the community but also offer guidance and expertise to the trust for the “right to buy” that was driving the process forward. It provides a good example of where arguments over land ownership are less important than genuine partnership between a community and estate to ensure that land can be used for its fullest productive benefit.”
Fred Dale, chairman of Johnstonebridge Centre and Community Development Trust, said: “The completion of the community buyout on January 17 will mark the culmination of many months of hard work at this stage in the process but our efforts will continue to ensure the land is used for maximum benefit.
“The assistance of David Johnstone from Annandale Estates has been hugely significant in our achievements so far, both in the gift of land but even more so, his engagement and knowledge in supporting the buyout process. 
“We continue to work towards funding for the new community centre and if successful, it will provide a huge boost to the area for both this and future generations to come.”

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