Community forest masterplan to be published soon

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The final master plan for Bute’s community-owned forest is to be published later this month.

The plans, drawn up by the Inverness-based firm of Neil Sutherland Architects, comprise shelters, signposting, a picnic area and interpretation board, a wilderness campsite and kayak jetty and a bird viewing facility for the 79.3 hectare Oak or Balnakailly Wood which forms the northern part of the 161 hectares owned by Bute Community Land Company.

On the 81.5 hectares of commercial forest plantation comprising the rest of BCLC’s land, there are plans for a multi-functional ‘hub’ for use as a training centre, cafe or meeting place, along with a lodge for overnight visitors, eco-lodges for groups or families, an adventurous play area including bouldering wall, mountain bike trails, viewpoints and picnic sites, a small timber processing area, an accessible woodland walkway, parking, outdoor performance area, sculpture trail, trim track (outdoor gym equipment alongside a pathway), tree house, children’s pixie dell and information boards at sites of interest.

Forest manager Emma Cooper said: “Many months of work have gone into the master plan and whilst we cannot please everyone, we hope that we will have pleased the often silent majority of people.

“The time for consultation has come to an end and we have to now move forward with the plans.

“The master plan confirms the facilities and placement of these facilities. It does not confirm building design or functionality; this is a matter for the design stage.

“We are asking if [BCLC] members have any justified reasons to reject this plan or can see any significant barriers to the achievement of the projects aim – to provide an excellent, exciting and responsible community asset which will attract local and international visitors to our beautiful island.”

The plan will be officially published on March 26.