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Finderne Development Trust to invest substantial Scottish Land Fund award in affordable housing, growing and retail space in Rafford

By Garry McCartney

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Moira Dennis and Brian Higgs of Finderne Development Trust at Rafford’s Brockloch site.
Moira Dennis and Brian Higgs of Finderne Development Trust at Rafford’s Brockloch site.

A LOCAL rural group has been awarded nearly a third of a million pounds to buy farmland for a community project.

Finderne Development Trust (FDT) has received a grant of £331,740 from The Scottish Land Fund to purchase 3.6 acres of land in Rafford, ‘Brockloch’, to provide space for 10 affordable homes and two self-build plots.

FDT chairman Brian Higgs confirmed the site is part of an integrated project that will include co-working, allotments and a community orchard, and retail space for local produce.

He said: “A lot of work, and community consultation, has gone in to getting to this stage. There is still a considerable amount of work to do but this news gives us a firm foundation on which to build.”

FDT will now determine whether the affordable housing project is feasible via detailed design and costing. Architects and builders will be chosen through a tendering process.

Brian said: “This will give us the detail required to evaluate funding options for the development and allow decision on feasibility.”

Brian explained that as more people work at and run businesses from home, co-working spaces provide opportunity to spend some working time in a fully equipped office without the responsibilities of a business unit.

He said: “Sharing a workplace, even if only for a few hours per week, has been shown to help personal productivity and have physical and mental health benefits. Our idea is to have a building that is available for residents of the affordable housing development and the wider Finderne community.”

Part of the co-working space would be a community outlet.

“The overall plan will hopefully include community facilities such as a polytunnel,” said Brian. “The produce from these, along with items made for sale by the community, could be sold through a small retail space. This needs more community consultation before firm plans will be in place.”

FDT’s grant is amongst 12 totalling £2,754,897 that have been made to groups across Scotland. The programme is delivered in partnership by National Lottery Fund and HIE.

Minister for Environment and Land Reform Mairi McAllan said: “ I look forward to seeing the projects flourish.”

Head of Community Assets at HIE, Sandra Holmes, added: “The projects are fantastic examples of people taking control of local resources for the long-term benefit of communities.”

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