A new approach to The Old Courthouse

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TWENTY-FIVE brand new flats in the centre of Rothesay are to be marketed to older island residents - as well as to prospective first-time buyers not yet living on Bute.

The Fyne Homes properties at The Old Courthouse were originally designated as ‘shared equity’ properties under the Holyrood government’s Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers, known as LIFT – but none have yet been sold.

And the association has now received the green light from the Scottish Government to market the properties off the island in the hope of attracting mainland-based first-time buyers - and also to make them available to local older people who may be looking to move to a smaller home, and to whom the step-free accessibility of many of the flats would prove ideal.

Fyne Homes’ new business director, Peter McDonald, told The Buteman this week: “The Scottish Government understands the demographics of Bute, and the significant and growing number of older people who live here.

“They’re happy for us to market these houses to people who will probably already be home owners, who may need to move because their existing property is no longer suitable.

“This development is fully lift-accessible, and it’s located in the centre of the town, close to all the local amenities, so if you are requiring to move and you think this would be more in line with your needs, we would be delighted for you to come and talk to us.”

The Old Courthouse development incorporates 25 one, two and three bedroomed homes - whose prices have fallen after a recent revaluation - behind the B-listed facade of the town’s former sheriff court, police station and council buildings.

The project took almost ten years to complete, and was officially handed over by the principal contractor, John Brown (Strone) Ltd, in a ceremony at the end of March.

Prospective purchasers - whether from the existing target group or the new older or off-island clientele - would still only be able to buy a property on a ‘shared equity’ basis, with a stake of either 60 or 80 per cent, with the public funders of the project retaining control of the remainder.

The latter provision is aimed at ensuring the properties are not sold on at a later date as second homes or holiday lets.

In some circumstances a purchaser stake of as little as 51 per cent might be considered.

“Anybody who buys a stake, whether it’s 60 per cent or 80 per cent, is likely to make money as the market improves,” Mr McDonald continued.

“We will still market these properties to the original client group but the government is now happy for us to widen the net a little - and if we can attract new first time buyers to come to Bute and purchase one of these properties I think the island will benefit.”

Mr McDonald also told Fyne Homes’ AGM this week that the association had no plans to make the Old Courthouse properties available for rent.