Residents packed Howgate Village Hall to discuss using the Scottish Government’s Right to buy legislation to register an interest in land and buildings in the village.
Locals hope to use the legislation to secure the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the community. Saturday’s meeting focused on Scottish Community Right to Buy legislation, which allows communities to apply to register an interest in land and/or buildings, and the opportunity to buy that land and/or buildings when they come up for sale.
The now disused Howgate Kirk, the associated village hall and adjacent Glebe Field are expected to be put up for sale by the Church of Scotland in the near future.
Discussions have been going on in and around Howgate for some time about how some or all of these assets can be secured to ensure the future sustainability and well-being of today’s residents and of the community in the future.
Saturday’s meeting took these discussions a significant step forward. James Garry, from the Howgate Development Group, said: There was general agreement that steps should be taken to register the community’s interest in buying the Glebe Field as an asset for the village and neighbouring communities.
“In a lively ideas’ session residents suggested that this would be an opportunity to expand the existing allotments in the Glebe Field, create a community orchard and, in time, build a new low maintenance, low carbon village hall to hold community events.
“Securing a local venue for children’s events and learning was seen as being particularly important.
“We are very fortunate that Right To Buy legislation exists to help and support our local community in its ambition to ensure that local residents have a chance to buy cherished local resources, such as the Glebe Field, which are so important to the sense-of-place of Howgate and so valuable as an asset to develop and promote the well-being and sustainability of the Howgate area.
“We’ve looked around and seen the tremendous work that residents have achieved in Rosewell, Silverburn and further afield in Peebles. And we’d like to secure some of the same benefits for our own community here.”
Howgate Community Development Group will now press ahead with the formation of a Company Limited by Guarantee and then register the community’s interest in buying the Glebe Field as soon as possible. It later hopes to gain charitable status.