PLANS for a major new facility on Bute combining heritage and science have been given the blessing of the island’s major landowner.
The Mount Stuart Trust has given the green light for the Bute Conservation Trust (BCT) and Bute Astronomical Club to explore a joint project, along with Mount Stuart, which could see a science centre and observatory sit alongside a heritage centre, a bunkhouse, education facilities and a range of outdoor and rural activities at Meikle Kilmory farm on the west side of the island.
Talks have already taken place between the Conservation Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with a view to an application for ‘stage one’ funding of up to £100,000 to cover the cost of feasibility studies, planning applications and other set-up costs for the project.
BCT project officer Sylvia Jardine told The Buteman: “Everyone I’ve spoken to about it is really keen. Mount Stuart expressed an interest in the project some time ago – they said it was a great business idea that would provide more activities on Bute for visitors and residents, and just had to consider what property they could let us look at.
“They’ve now come back and confirmed that they are happy for BCT to pursue a feasibility study for the Meikle Kilmory site, which is what we wanted.”
Exact costs for the project will not be known until the conclusion of the ‘stage one’ funding work, but if enough grant support is secured, the facility could include shops, a ‘living farm’, cafes, go-karting, nature and health trails and demonstration areas for the teaching of land management techniques.
BCT chair Councillor Isobel Strong said: “The need for a bunkhouse became apparent fairly early on in the life of Discover Bute, and it was always in our plans for the future.
“A bunkhouse on its own is unlikely to be sustainable, but this exciting new project should generate income, bring in new visitors - especially from colleges and universities - and be a great resource for the island, including a residential base for people to study Bute’s unique geology, geography, archaeology and natural environment.
“The trust is working closely with Mount Stuart, and we feel the whole island will benefit from their co-operation in the project.”