Following our success at Cumberland Avenue last month, Scottish Ministers have now approved our application to register a community interest in Castle Woods. This again means that the owners are now prohibited from selling to any party other than HCWG. We now intend to redouble our efforts to bring both sites into community ownership and believe this could be possible by the end of 2018.
In making their decision, Scottish Ministers stated that “they are satisfied that the proposed application to register an interest in land known as Castle Woods is in the public interest. HCWG’S aspirations show intent to address the needs identified and supported by the local community and, if HCWG are successful in acquiring the land in the future, the sustainable development proposals by HCWG should benefit the local community, the wider Helensburgh community and the wider area through ensuring the land is used for the benefit of the community through the provision of a long-term land and forestry management plan for the land known as Castle Woods, which will help promote the general and social, environmental and economic well-being of the community.”
HCWG has long campaigned to preserve and enhance Castle Woods, which is an area of ancient semi-natural woodland that forms an important ecological extension of the local nature reserve of Duchess Woods. It is protected by a Tree Preservation Order, designated as an Open Space Protection Area, and identified as a local Key Environmental Feature. The northern part is a Local Nature Conservation Site. Unfortunately, however, for over a decade the landowners have sought to turn Castle Woods into a 72-unit housing estate.
David Adams, HCWG Convenor, said: “We are delighted to have Scottish Government’s backing for transforming Castle Woods into a community-owned asset for everyone’s benefit. HCWG produced a draft management plan for the woods in 2012 which received widespread support in the local community. In 2013, we almost secured very substantial funding from the Armed Forces Community Covenant Fund to implement the plan and we have been encouraged to re-apply if the owners can be persuaded to sell. Now that the Scottish Government has approved our application, we will be seeking to meet the owners to discuss the long-term future of Castle Woods.”
Download a copy of the Scottish Government’s decision here.
For more information, see:
Helensburgh Advertiser: Helensburgh woodland buyout interest approved – but owner says land is not for sale
Lochside Press: Castle Woods community buyout a step nearer