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Bid to encourage more community ownership

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Bid to encourage more community ownership

A NEW project has been launched to inspire and encourage the growing community ownership movement in the South of Scotland.

It is being led by Community Land Scotland, with £41,570 of funding from South of Scotland Enterprise towards a development officer to help build capacity in the community land sector.

Community Land Scotland are encouraged by current community acquisitions in the area, including the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve at Langholm – but they say more work needs to be done to inspire and encourage others to get involved.

Group chair Ailsa Raeburn said: “The support that South of Scotland Enterprise has already shown to communities in their ambition to buy and develop local land and buildings that are important to them, has been inspiring.”

“Owning critical local assets means that local people control their own future; it also means that the value and income from these properties stay within that community to be reinvested for local good.

“From major investments, such as the Langholm buyout and Midsteeple Quarter to more local projects such as Space to Grow in Moffat, the SOSE team have already underlined their commitment to community-led regeneration being at the core of a sustainable South of Scotland.”

“We are keen to see this investment built upon with communities sharing their stories, helping each other and learning more about the big challenges that face us all such as depopulation, lack of affordable housing, loss of services and climate adaption and mitigation.”

Aimee Hesp, above, has been appointed to the development role and she said: “There are lots of great examples in the Highlands and Islands where community ownership has turned round the fortunes of a place, allowing local people to shape their own future and ensure that income generated stays within that community.

“Whilst a more recent thing in the South, community ownership has got off to a flying start with SOSE’s help. Working together we can do so much to inspire and encourage more communities to get involved.”

And Kate Musgrave from SOSE added: “We want to unlock the potential of local people here in the South and one way of doing that is supporting them in their community ownership ambitions. Whether this is buying large tracts of farm or woodland, redeveloping town centres, retaining important local buildings through finding new uses, we aim to listen to our communities and work alongside them to achieve their goals.”

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