Castle Toward

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Published Date: 

22 Dec 2014 - 10:07

Argyll and Bute Council is working hard to turn opportunities for economic growth into reality.

As part of this work, on Thursday 18 December, the Policy and Resources Committee took a decision that creates the opportunity to bring jobs to Cowal, to support a group of committed, enthusiastic local residents realise their ambitions, and to invest in the school estate.

The council is investing millions of pounds in developing the economy and communities of Cowal. We have worked very hard with South Cowal Community Development Company (SCCDC) to create the opportunity for delivering significant economic benefits through a community buyout.

We have carefully considered SCCDC’s request for a substantial discount of £1million on the independently assessed value of £1.75million provided by the District Valuer.  We reviewed SCCDC’s business case. We examined the issue of state aid, we sought and considered the opinions of other parties, and, of course, we carefully considered which solution will best support the aspirations not only of SCCDC but also of our wider communities, including our young people.

The proceeds from any sale of Castle Toward will offer a much-needed boost to the school estate budget.

While ambitious plans will inevitably bring risk alongside opportunity, there was serious risk in delivering SCCDC’s business case.

Given our support for the community buy-out, the Policy and Resources Committee considered at great length how we could support SCCDC’s proposals for Cowal.

At the same meeting we had already agreed to the building of a new children’s house in Dunoon (to replace Dunclutha Children’s House) and millions of pounds council investment in upgrading Dunoon Primary School, (with anticipation of additional Scottish Government Funding). Regeneration work is progressing through the Chord project. At a financially challenging time, the council is investing millions of pounds in Cowal.

In addition to this, the solution offered today is an opportunity to bring new jobs, boost the local economy, allow the community group to realise its vision and safeguard the interests of our young people through investment in our school estate. It gives SCCDC time, three years in fact, to review how they could raise additional funding to make this happen.

It gives a real chance to move SCCDC’s proposals forward, working together, to turn this potential into reality.

This is the Committee’s decision.

Agree to sell Castle Toward to SCCDC at the price of £1.75 million with £1 million being provided on the basis of a commercial loan, with repayments being deferred for three years, and to extend the Right to Buy period with SCCDC until 31 January 2015 in order to reach agreement with SCCDC.

The meeting was held in public with representatives of SCCDC present.