A SCOTTISH glen’s hopes of repopulation have been handed a "pivotal" boost after a community buy-out paved the way for new crofts and affordable housing.

A total of 163 acres over two lots has been purchased by community groups in Glengarry, between Fort William and Fort Augustus, with the aim of constructing six crofts and between four and six new affordable homes.

The community-led project involving Glengarry Community Woodlands, the Woodland Crofts Partnership, and the Communities Housing Trust will “help improve the long-term sustainability of Glengarry”.

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Glengarry Community Woodlands and the Woodland Crofts Partnership will work together to create four new woodland crofts over 116 acres of the purchased lots of Ardochy Forest.

The Communities Housing Trust will work with the other 47 acres to create two further woodland crofts and between four and six affordable homes. These will be a “mix of tenures based on the needs of the local community: rental properties, homes for discounted sale, and croft housing”.

All of the properties will have similar protections to ensure that the “benefits are retained within the community upon any future change of occupation”.

The National: Glengarry Community WoodlandsGlengarry Community Woodlands (Image: Glengarry Community Woodlands)

The chair of Glengarry Community Woodlands (GCW), Ross Lynn, said: “Glengarry Community Woodlands is delighted to be taking ownership of this land on behalf of the community, thanks to support from the Scottish Land Fund.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with the Communities Housing Trust, and the Woodland Crofts Partnership to deliver the community’s plans for woodland crofts and affordable housing on the land, proposals that proved popular in our consultation meeting.

“This is a pivotal moment for Glengarry as this project will provide young people and families with much-needed opportunities to remain in the area and to generate income through the sustainable management of this local woodland.”

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Jamie McIntyre, the main contractor for the Woodland Croft Partnership, said that Glengarry could provide a template for other rural Scottish areas.

He said: “We’re delighted to see the land transfers needed to make this project a reality finally go through – it has been a long journey to get to this point.

“The approach pioneered here by GCW of working in partnership to deliver badly needed crofts is one which is transferable to other communities, and one which we hope will be taken up more widely. We’d also like to thank the Scottish Government for funding support in the development of this project.”

Ronnie MacRae, the head of the Communities Housing Trust, echoed this sentiment.

He said: “This is a fantastic example of holistic rural development targeting regeneration and repopulation that will also benefit both the economy and the environment.

“A combination of genuinely affordable homes and woodland crofts, spearheaded by the local community, is a great model that other rural communities will be able to look to.”

Both the land purchases of Ardochy Forest were funded in part by the Scottish Land Fund, which is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Sandra Holmes, HIE’s head of community assets, said: “This innovative, community-led project is a great example of place-based development.

“The mix of tenures and new crofts will provide a range of opportunities to best meet local needs today and in the future. We particularly welcome the measures to keep these opportunities affordable in perpetuity. Our congratulations to Glengarry Community Woodlands and Communities Housing Trust in securing the land to enable this important development to progress.”