Mount Stuart Trust unveils major Bute investment programme

The Mount Stuart Trust has announced details of a major investment by the Bute Estate in renovating historic and unused buildings around the island.
The Mount Stuart Trust has announced details of a major investment by the Bute Estate in renovating historic and unused buildings around the island.

The Bute Estate is to spend more than £8 million transforming historic and unused buildings around the island to offer more homes and holiday accommodation in one of the most extensive developments undertaken on the island in recent years.

The three-year initiative, announced by the Mount Stuart Trust on Tuesday, is potentially one of the largest rural regeneration projects on a private Scottish estate.

Key elements of the project include the regeneration of multiple sites on Bute, innovative renovation of farm steadings, the provision of homes to rent and self-catering holiday accommodation.

Connie Lovel, chief executive of the Mount Stuart Trust, said: “This is a tremendously exciting initiative by Bute Estate and demonstrates our deep commitment to the social, economic and environmental fabric of the island.

“The project will provide homes of a high standard for existing residents and newcomers as well as enhancing self-catering holiday accommodation.

“The first phase of this project will involve the development of six sites with an additional five sites identified for the second phase, including the Mansion House in Rothesay, developing 11 sites in total.”

New dwellings included in the development plans will be designed as energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly contemporary homes of vernacular architecture maintaining the heritage and character of the island. This will involve the use of locally sourced timber cladding and the recycling of original stone and slate wherever possible.

The project will include the renovation of existing buildings and the creation of hybrid units – combining the renovation of existing buildings with the addition of new contemporary elements. Where these options are unsuitable, new build homes will be developed.

The proposals are consistent with Argyll and Bute’s development policy and the Local Development Plan. The sites will be developed to suit the landscape of the island.

The regeneration proposals will be showcased at a public exhibition at Mount Stuart soon, and further details will be available on

Sites identified for development will include:

* Ambrismore, near Scalpsie Bay, where an existing stone byre will be converted to a four-bedroom family home and three new build homes will form a cluster of energy-efficient dwellings for rent.

* Woodend, on the western shore of Loch Fad, A B-listed Georgian house will be restored to provide unique self-catering holiday let accommodation for larger groups.

* Quochag, near Kingarth, where retention of part of the existing steading will be complemented by new extensions to provide self-catering holiday lets.

* Lubas steading, on the road between Kingarth and St Blane’s Chapel at the south end of the island, site for the creation of a renovated unit for residential let.

The project will run in conjunction with the estate’s Accelerated Refurbishment Programme, which upgrades estate-owned properties.

More than £600,000 was spent on the first phase of this programme which was completed in 2012 and a similar sum is to be committed to this second phase.

Properties developed in Phase 1 of the Accelerated Refurbishment Programme included Lubas farmhouse, the historic Brick Cottages and Smith House at the Straad.

Connie Lovel added: “Due to the age and condition of the properties when they return to the estate following lengthy lease periods, there is often a need for significant upgrading and we look forward to making great progress in restoring as many of these properties as possible.”

The first phase of the Mount Stuart masterplan ran from 2009-11 and saw £1.7 million spent on the renovation of two historic buildings in the grounds of Mount Stuart itself and the development of a new build self-catering holiday home, using timber from the estate and featuring a woodchip bio-mass system utilising wood from the estate as fuel.