A community art group has been awarded more than £250,000 to help it purchase a new home in the heart of an Aberdeenshire town.
The Deveron Projects organisation in Huntly is one of a number of causes across Scotland to benefit from a new £1.6 million Scottish Land Fund pot, overseen by the Scottish Government’s Highlands and Islands Enterprises.
It £270,000 award will help it to purchase an empty shop on Huntly’s town square, which will be turned into the project’s new permanent base.
The Deveron Projects, which started in 1995, seeks to create “socially engaged projects” and events for the benefit of Huntly residents and the wider community.
Director Claudia Zeiska said: “We are absolutely delighted to be receiving this award.
“It will offer a transformational opportunity for Huntly and its town centre, with new community activities such as cooking and baking and café and workshop spaces.
“It will allow us to house our artists and other creatives.”
Eight other projects across Scotland have also benefitted from the fund, including the Tobermory Harbour Association and the Mull and Iona Community Trust.
Roseanne Cunningham MSP, the Scottish Government’s land reform minister, said: “This substantial set of Scottish Land Fund grants will enable eight diverse projects across the country to buy up key assets for the benefit of local people and put the ownership and responsibility of key services and facilities right at the heart of the community.
“The Scottish Land Fund supports a wide range of community ownership projects.
“Behind each one lies a story, as well as a great deal of hard work and commitment from local residents to unlock the opportunity that this funding brings.
“I congratulate each of the successful applicants and wish them good luck on the next chapter of their journey.”
Another recipient will be the Applecross Community Company, which has been awarded £11,900 to help fund the purchase of part of the garden at Applecross Surgery from NHS Highland.
It will then use the land to develop three two-bedroom properties as affordable housing.
John Watt, the chairman of the Scottish Land Fund, added: “The variety of projects, from shops and pubs to rural woodland and open spaces within industrial communities, shows how wide-ranging the benefits of the Scottish Land Fund can be.
“Groups across the country are using the money to make a long-lasting impact on their local areas.”