D-Day approaches for charity Knocknagael Ltd’s bid to take a Scottish Government owned green space in Inverness into community ownership
13 March 2023
A planning hearing will be held in Inverness Tuesday 14th of March to determine the fate of an Asset Transfer Request by the Charity Knocknagael. The case will be heard by a panel of three led by the planning reporter Paul Cackette. This will be quite a high stakes event and a real test for the community empowerment legislation .
Knocknagael Ltd a charity based on the south of Inverness, submitted an Asset Transfer Request for the Smiddy Field in October 2021. But in June 2022 received a refusal of their request and appealed for a review of the decision.
They want to create a community project involving creating allotments, an orchard, amenity and recreational areas and a community local food growing area.
The site is good quality agricultural land and an ideal location for a community project. The journey started when in 2012, the smiddy and adjacent field were declared surplus to requirements of running the Bull Studd Farm following the upgrade of the building. The fields were put up for planning permission with the idea of selling the land. This sparked a community movement to save the fields and the community have been working on the project for a number of years.
Scottish Government RPID division refused the request arguing the field is ‘essential’ to the running of the Bull Farm Scheme (the scheme the government runs to hire bulls for crofters). This is despite the fact that the land was declared as surplus to requirements in 2012 and has been put up twice for housing development. Knocknagael feel the process to determine their submission has not been objective and that the significant benefits of the Knocknagael Green Hub and strong support for the project have been ignored.
Knocknagael Ltd Chair said ‘This is one in a life time opportunity for the community to take forward a transformative project for the benefit the communities of Inverness and that will safeguard the future of the farm’.
The Hearing will be Webcast and can be viewed from https://dpea.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/758154. It will be available for subsequent viewing on the DPEA website by searching under reference CAT-270-1.
The review hearing panel will consist of retired civil servant Paul Cackette, a former chief planning reporter to the Scottish Government, ecologist and forester Judith Webb, and Russell Smith, a crofter based near Bonar Bridge.
The Knocknagael Green hub is the last chance to save the future of the Bull Farm
Press & Journal * 7 March 2023