The feasibility study for the acquisition of land owned by Fearann Eilean Iarmain in Portree is now complete.
Please click on the links at the bottom of the page to read the final study, the associated business plan and financial projections. If you would like to submit a comment on these reports please do so before the 28th of February 2019. You can click here to do so or send an letter to the address listed on the contacts page.
Fearann Eilean Iarmain (FEI) own land in Portree which they have offered to sell to the community through the Portree & Braes Community Trust (PBCT or the Trust):
Am Meall na h-Acairsaid (know as The Lump) – a natural amphitheatre which is the location for the annual Skye Games.The elevated site provides a good walking route and view point for locals and tourists
King George V Playing Field - of which 2.91 ha (7.2 acres) are leased to Highland Council on a 99 year lease from Whitsun 1949 for use only as playing fields/recreation
Bayfield Amenity Ground (and Bayfield Boat House)
Pairc nan Laoch (Skye Camanachd Shinty Pitch) – forms part of the shinty stadium in Portree and is leased to Skye Camanachd
Sulaisiadar Common Grazings
These pockets of land in and around Portree were included in FEI’s purchase of 23,000 acres of land in the south of Skye in the 1970s from MacDonald Estates and are incidental to the main FEI estate, but of huge significance to the community of Portree where green space is at a premium in Skye’s main town.
An indicative valuation report provided by the Landowner outlines the areas of land but a more accurate independent valuation is still required identifying exact boundaries and ownership of adjoining land. The area owned by FEI at the Lump excludes the central part which is owned by the Skye Gathering who lease the land to the Isle of Skye Highland Games.
Proposed Use of the Land in Portree
The recreational land in Portree being offered to the community is scarce and PBCT see the purchase of the land as a means of safeguarding its use for recreational purposes for the community and future generations.
PBCT have been involved in initial discussions regarding developing the King George V Playing Field with better drainage, improved changing facilities, potential running track on the periphery etc. The Lump and Sulaisiadar Common Grazings are being considered for improving the network of paths around Portree and linking those up with existing routes.
The main site for immediate development is the Bayfield Amenity Ground which has been leased in the short term by PBCT already in order to undertake some landscaping work and improve the steps at Lisigarry river to create a more attractive space in Portree. This area also lends itself to being developed as a tourism facility offering camping, campervan hook-ups, and other amenities which could generate income for the Trust to meet its running costs. This is proposed as a second site for PBCT’s pay for use toilet facilities which are badly needed in Portree and could offer the potential for extended pay for use car park facilities. The trust are also currently working on a proposal for an outdoor adventure park for older children in the leased site to the West. Full details of development options are outlined in the business plan below.
Feasibility Work Undertaken
The Trust was successful in securing Stage 1 grant funding from the Scottish Land Fund to undertake a feasibility study for the acquisition of land owned by Fearann Eilean Iarmain. This study has recently been completed.
The land transfer itself requires legal due diligence to be undertaken to ensure that the Trust are fully aware of the land it is buying and any potential risks or liabilities. A surveyor and solicitor were commissioned to ensure that this was carried out and the financial viability of the land being purchased was considered.
The community and various stakeholders were consulted as part of the process to ensure that PBCT has the community’s support in purchasing the land and that the future needs of the community are met through the Trust’s plans. The fragmented nature of the land, and the additional opportunities that will arise from adjacent land and assets, is such that it will need to form part of an overall recreation/tourism strategy for the village, so ongoing assistance will be required with some input from those with experience of local planning to ensure that the needs of the various stakeholders are met.
Due to the number of stakeholders and varying interests from existing groups and the community as a whole, an extensive consultation exercise was delivered and meetings were facilitated by an external adviser to ensure that all stakeholders gained comfort that the process allows all views the be considered as part of the feasibility study. The final plan looks at Portree as a whole to ensure that the plan is not limited to the individual areas of land being purchased and that it has maximum impact for the benefit of the Portree and Braes area.
As a result of feasibility work undertaken the Trust now propose to purchase four out of five of the pieces of land on offer by FEI estates.
1. Successful purchase of land at The Lump could be achieved as a result of the development of a tripartite management agreement. This agreement would exist between PBCT, Skye Gathering and Isle of Skye Games and enable all parties to work together successfully to conserve and improve access to this site. PBCT are currently in discussions with all parties involved regarding the development of a suitable agreement.
2. The Trust have agreed to pursue the purchase of the King George the V playing field and are in discussions with stakeholders regarding a long term strategic plan for developing the wider area extending to Camanachd Square and Park Road. There is conflicting evidence regarding the legal boundaries of the land which the Trust is resolving as a first step.
3. The feasibility study showed public support for the purchase of Bayfield on the basis that a community ownership would protect amenity land from outside development and provide opportunities for improving centrally located green space. The Trust as a result are working on a more detailed proposal for a campervan and toilet facility with a view to applying for funding from the Scottish Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund in 2019. The Trust anticipate that a facility of this kind would provide a modest income for the trust, make Bayfield a more attractive space, improve how the site is used by locals and visitors and potentially kick start wider improvements to the area.
4. As a result of discussions with PBCT, Skye Camanachd expressed that if Pairc nan Laoch was for sale the club would like to take the opportunity to purchase it. This decision received the full support of Portree and Braes Community Trust. Lady Lucilla Noble, in honor of Sir Ian Noble, has since offered to gift the Pairc nan Laoch to Skye Camanachd who gratefully accepted.
5. After gaining the support of the crofting tenants, community ownership of Sulaisiader Common Grazing is being pursued. This decision comes with a view to safeguarding opportunities for long-term development and securing any future benefits accruing to the Landlord.
The Trust has been working closely with the local Council, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Housing Association and its future strength will come from building on these partnerships to ensure than it plans are delivered in a collaborative manner.