Bute forest project ‘could be a reality by 2017’

BCLC director Emma Cooper.
BCLC director Emma Cooper.

A planned development in Bute’s community-owned forest could be transformed from paper to reality some time during 2017.

That’s the ambitious prediction of Bute Community Land Company director Emma Cooper, who spoke to The Buteman after the organisation’s recent AGM in Rothesay.

Members of BCLC present at the meeting voted in favour of scaling down the development project - which includes a cafe, meeting centre, car parking facilities and ‘glamping’ accommodation - after being told the cost of the scheme was likely to rise above £3 million, around three times the original estimate.

“There was much more of a sense of community ownership than we’ve perhaps had for a little while,” Ms Cooper told The Buteman.

“We now have to speak to our two major stakeholders, the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, to get their views on the choices we’ve made, and then we’ll have to work out whether our new plans will be acceptable within our existing planning application.

“If those stakeholders say they will continue to support us, we should have a funding outcome in six months.

“Then everything will depend on how quickly we can procure the building work that will be needed. If all goes to plan, we could maybe have something built next year.”

* More in the February 26 issue of The Buteman - on sale now.