Tayvallich Takes the Initiative
9 September 2022
The imminent sale of a £10 million Argyll estate gives the Tayvallich community an exciting opportunity to address many of the issues that are threatening its future. The Tayvallich Initiative (tayvallichinitiative.org) has brought the community together to take action on the challenges it faces, by bringing part of the estate into community ownership. The 200+ population of Tayvallich cares for its traditions and has a strong interest in enhancing the sustainable use of the land and sea. Reversing depopulation is a key concern, as well as maintaining the area’s rich natural environment and responding and adapting to the climate and biodiversity emergencies.
The 3,500-acre Tayvallich estate extends along a beautiful peninsula in Knapdale, Mid Argyll, with breathtaking views down Loch Sween and across the Sound of Jura. The sellers, a family partnership, inherited the estate from their aunt, Catherine Pollock, whose home it was. Ms Pollock is remembered fondly for her work with the community as a social worker at the now-closed Argyll and Bute Hospital and for managing the estate for many decades to maintain its rare species, including marsh fritillary butterflies, juniper, otters and Greenland white-fronted geese, all of which are of national or international importance. She also grew and planted many native trees. Ms Pollock’s legacy has made the peninsula one of the best places for nature in Argyll and Bute.
Despite the many advantages of living in this wonderful area, the National Records of Scotland show that Argyll and Bute has lost around 5,000 residents since 1981. Yet in 2022 there is a lack of affordable accommodation for those who wish to make a permanent home in the area.
In common with many rural coastal areas in Scotland, an increasing number of houses are being turned from homes with long-term permanent residents into second homes, pricing out young people and raising the age of the population. This situation threatens the village school, bus service, church and community-owned shop and café.
In a series of meetings, the residents of the Tayvallich peninsula have vowed to reverse this depopulation of their area. The sellers have kindly offered a gift to the community of some land and a house, which is a welcome start to building affordable homes. However, ten of only 17 affordable long-term rental properties on the peninsula are owned by the estate and the community fears that long-standing members of the community may have to leave the village and that many of their houses may become holiday homes. The gift of land is a promising beginning but much more needs to be done for the community to achieve its ambitions of retaining jobs in farming, repopulation, sustainability and nature conservation.
Community ownership facilitates local involvement in the use of land and assets, creating sustainability for this and future generations. Any profits will be reinvested to serve the common good and help enable social and economic development in this part of Argyll.
The community is preparing a bid to the Scottish Land Fund (SLF). The SLF is funded by the Scottish Government and National Lottery and is delivered in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. However, time is very short because the sale has a fixed closing date in November. The community’s request for more time to raise the money has been turned down, and such a tight deadline means that the SLF money is unlikely to be fully confirmed in time. The Tayvallich community is now urgently looking for funding elsewhere, determined not to lose this unique chance to make its vision for its own future come true.