Howgate group’s big step forward to community land

Sunday February 9th 2020


Directors and community members with local Penicuik councillor Cllr Debbi McCall holding the incorporation certificate of the new company.

Written by Midlothian View reporter, Luke Jackson

Community members in Howgate have now successfully incorporated the Howgate Community Group Limited as a company limited by guarantee. This is a very significant step because, for the first time, Howgate village now has a legally constituted bogy that can negotiate on behalf of villages to promote the sustainable development of the village.

It is now anticipated that the former Howgate Kirk, the ‘Village Hall’ which is an extension of the kirk and the adjacent Glebe Field will be marketed very shortly. A packed meeting in the village confirmed that members of the local community are interested in securing some of these assets to ensure the future sustainability and well-being of today’s residents and of the whole community in the future.

Members of the Howgate Development have been working with the Scottish Land Fund, the Scottish Government’s Right to Buy Unit and representatives of the Church of Scotland to identify what the community could realistically attempt to buy and then run and manage.

The Group is currently focusing on the Glebe Field which has the greatest long-term sustainable development potential. If secured for the community, the existing allotments could be expanded, and training and education links made with other community bodies in Penicuik.

Creating a community orchard and better and safer space for children’s activities would be another immediate priority as would be a sheltered event space. A longer-term ambition would be building a new low maintenance, low carbon village hall to hold community events.

James Garry, Howgate Development Group Ltd said

“Anyone passing through Howgate must think its great to be surrounded by such lovely countryside. And it is. But the reality is also that most of the land surrounding Howgate is working farmland and the fields around the village are full of sheep and cattle most of the year. The Howgate Glebe is the village’s only safe, accessible open space, for walking, community events, children playing and, of course, our allotments.

“We think the Glebe is essential for the future sustainable development and community well-being of the village and the wider Penicuik area. Our attempt to secure this land seems unique in Midlothian. But when we are successful, we will show that yet another route to community ownership is available for all of the county’s communities.”

As a next step the Howgate Community Development Group Ltd will be holding an Open Meeting on Saturday 15th February at 10.30 am in Howgate Village Hall.

Residents and stakeholder in the wider village area are being altered as this will be an important opportunity to get the latest updates on this exciting community buy-out initiative.

Crucially, community members need to demonstrate their continuing support for the acquisition of land around the Howgate Kirk and Glebe.

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