Community Trust takes ownership of vital asset after building lay derelict for 18 years

© SuppliedPeter J Faye, Chairman of Stratherrick and Foyers Community Trust at the new community facility in Whitebridge
Peter J Faye, Chairman of Stratherrick and Foyers Community Trust at the new community facility in Whitebridge

A community trust on the south banks of Loch Ness has formally taken ownership of a key village site.

The Stratherrick and Foyers Community Trust has announced that the former Wildside Outside Classrooms and building at Whitebridge, which have lain derelict for 18 years, is now in their possession adding to the four sites the community already owns.

Peter Faye, chairman of Stratherrick and Foyers Community Trust, said: “Community ownership guarantees the site will be used to benefit local people.  There are precious few opportunities like this and the Trust is delighted with the purchase.”

The former Outdoor Centre and the two-acre site were mothballed for many years before private developers proposed plans that would have seen it demolished to make way a five home housing development.

However, planning consent for the executive homes lapsed, allowing the trust to make their move to acquire the facility.

Mr Faye added: “Energy firm SSE confirmed recently that the Trust will receive additional community benefit funds.  These come from the Stronelairg windfarm which is located entirely within the Stratherrick and Foyers boundary.

“Our Trust board felt confident in buying the former Wildside Outdoor Centre outright.  We can now consult our residents on how the area might be best used.  Options include refurbishing the building, which is in remarkably sound condition and developing the remainder of the site in a way that supports our community here.

“Ideas include housing, units for the use of self-employed people, a community timber yard and a recreation pitch.  The site is big enough that even a micro-brewery could be considered.

“This community needs facilities and employment opportunities. The last thing we needed on this site was five new executive houses!”

Plans are also being drawn up by the trust to develop a field in Lower Foyers for recreational use, with the trust consulting with their architect over the scope of the development.

Mr Faye concluded: “The Wildside Centre site is unique.  It is close to the famous Wade Bridge at Whitebridge and has direct access to the B852 public road.  It is on our bus route and handy for the Whitebridge Hotel.

“Purchasing this land is a big step for the Stratherrick and Foyers Community Trust.  Local people now have an opportunity to use the land and building to support their own community – forever.”

Open days for members of the public to come along and see around the new building are due to take place in March.