The villagers keeping their dream alive
15 November 2022
Residents of community of Wanlockhead, Scotland’s highest village, are on tenterhooks as they wait to find out if a funding bid for their purchase of 3859 acres from the Duke of Buccleuch’s Queensberry Estate is successful.
The buyout could become the latest in a series of purchases from Buccleuch in the South of Scotland, following community buyouts in Langholm and Newcastleton. The land is being sold for £1.483 million and Wanlockhead Community Trust has submitted an application to the Scottish Land Fund.
Wanlockhead owes its existence to deposits of lead and gold in the area, which have been mined since Roman times. The village was established in the late 17th century and has a rich history as the home of Europe’s second oldest subscription library and one of Scotland’s first curling clubs. If the buyout goes ahead, plans include developing new businesses and affordable housing along with habitat restoration.
Lincoln Richford, Chair of Wanlockhead Community Trust, which is taking the buyout forward, said “the village has a long history and the buyout will allow us to secure our future in the way that Langholm, Newcastleton and countless communities in the Highlands and Islands have been able to do. Our plans for the buyout have attracted young families into the village and we hope that will continue.”
Local residents are crossing their fingers that the funding news will be positive. Emma Connolly, a childminder, Forest School leader and mother of four children, moved to the village four years ago. Emma said “It can be incredibly difficult to find suitable affordable housing here, which can often deter families, those on limited incomes or people with additional support needs. Over the years, I’ve found myself in the position where we have considered moving away due to the lack of suitable affordable housing here. I think the community land buyout will bring new opportunities to the village in the form of small businesses, affordable housing, improvements to services, wildlife and biodiversity, sustainable tourism and much more.”
Linsay Chalmers, Development Manager with Community Land Scotland said “I had the good luck to meet many of the villagers nearly seven years ago when they started on their buyout journey. They’ve had some challenges along the way but they have shown themselves to be incredibly resilient and focused on creating a better future for their village. Hundreds of communities have shown what can be achieved when communities own their own land and we hope that Wanlockhead will soon join that family.”
Langholm Initiative, which has just concluded the second part of its buyout from Buccleuch sent a positive message to Wanlockhead about the benefits of their own buyout, the second part of which recently concluded. Angela Williams, Development Manager of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, which is owned by Langholm Initiative, said “The purchase of part of Langholm Moor from Buccleuch was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the community of Langholm. The creation of a nature reserve allows us to undertake ecological restoration, contribute to the mitigation of climate change – and be part of the regeneration of the town. Without owning the land we would not be able to take these actions forward.”
Contact: Linsay Chalmers, Development Manager, Community Land Scotland
Wanlockhead Community Trust is the body taking forward the buyout.