Ballot result a step forward for community right-to-buy campaign

MORE than three-quarters of a Fife village have turned out to vote overwhelmingly in favour of a ‘community buyout’ of a former local hotel.

The North Queensferry Community Trust had organised the ballot, hoping for backing in its plans to acquire the Albert Hotel.

The hotel had been earmarked, by the current owners, for conversion into four flats, but the planning application was refused by the local authority, in the first instance, and then further dismissed on appeal to the Scottish Government (here).

Under ‘community right-to-buy’ legislation, it must be demonstrated there is sufficient community support. The Trust’s ballot result – overseen by Fife Council Electoral Services – delivered a 98.6 per cent vote in favour, on a 78 per cent turnout of registered voters in the village.

Says a Trust media release: “The ballot asked residents to state whether they were for – or against – an application for the Albert Hotel to be purchased and restored as a ‘sustainable development’ for the community.”

The Trust envisages the hotel under its ownership would be restored as a village pub and community hub.

The Trust is currently exploring making use of so-called ‘Community Right to Buy, Part 5 application’ of land reform legislation (here) which provides a facility for an ‘approved’ community body to request an independent valuation and possible enforced sale.

The CRtB vote (as explained here, by the campaign website) should provide access to funding – for example from the Scottish Land Fund or Development Trusts Association Scotland.

Picture credit: Laura Hynd