WANLOCKHEAD VILLAGE COUNCIL

Community Benefit Funding: Improving Quality Of Life For local Residents

 Polytunnel

Wanlockhead is Scotland’s highest village, located in a beautiful but remote and rural setting in the Lowther Hills, and with a long history of local mining. Wanlockead Village Council acts as the representative body for the village population of c.160 and operates in lieu of a Community Council.

The idea of a community polytunnel and raised beds had been discussed locally for a long time, as it is difficult to grow produce in Wanlockhead because of high levels of soil contamination from historic mining, combined with a relatively high altitude climate. The expense of heavy duty polytunnels that can withstand high winds meant it would be much more economical for residents to share one. The community gardening group approached the Village Council, which provided it with support to apply for funding.

Wanlockhead community groups can access the Clyde Dumfries & Galloway Community Fund provided by SSE from its Clyde windfarm. A Panel of local volunteer residents makes decisions on awards from the Fund, supported by grant-making charity Foundation Scotland.

Wanlockhead Village Council was awarded £5,646 from the Fund, which enabled it to purchase and install a heavy-duty polytunnel, with 8 raised beds, as well as two large shelves for seedlings, soil and compost. The grant also paid for new fencing around the community garden site, and the neighbouring community centre has provided a shed for tools.

The polytunnel was erected in February 2019 and 10 residents of a wide age range regularly work in it. The raised beds were originally planned for individual rent, but most project participants have decided to share them, in order to maximise the diversity of produce and to share labour. Other residents also use the staging in the polytunnel to bring on seeds for their own gardens, and the playgroup came to the polytunnel to sow and grow sunflowers. The group has also been able to supply Fareshare (who provide free community meals) with surplus produce from the polytunnel.

The polytunnel has become a social space as well as a place to grow food. One group member reports “Being new to the area the polytunnel provided me with an opportunity to meet people and get involved in my community. Without this opportunity I would have felt quite isolated and lonely. The polytunnel has also enabled me to share in the growing of produce that would not have been possible in the tiny space I have available in my own garden and the access to fresh vegetables and fruit as well as the feeling that I can play a valuable part in something that benefits the whole community has had a positive impact on my health and wellbeing”

More information about Wanlockhead Village Council can be found here: http://www.wanlockheadvillagecouncil.scot More information about the SSE Clyde Dumfries and Galloway Community Fund can be found here: /clyde

Spotlight: Nigel Henderson Court Social Tenant Participation Group

Community Benefit Funding: Improving Quality Of Life For Older People

Nigel Henderson Court is a sheltered housing complex in Sanquhar, with 27 homes. Tenants are aged over 60 (or over 55 for those with a medical condition) who still wish to live independently in their own home. The tenants’ group organizes outings, social events and other activities to enhance the quality of life for tenants.

There is a communal garden area, where tenants like to sit and socialise. However in 2018 there was only one bench and it was in a poor state of repair. The tenants wished for more people to be able to sit outside together.

Sanquhar community groups can access the Clyde Dumfries & Galloway Community Fund provided by SSE from its Clyde windfarm. A Panel of local volunteer residents makes decisions on awards from the Fund, supported by grant-making charity Foundation Scotland.

The tenants group was awarded £1,000 from the Fund, which it used to purchase a table, benches and weather-proof covers. A ‘grand opening’ event was held in June 2019, attended by 15 tenants. The outdoor furniture will help enable more tenants to enjoy all the health and well-being benefits of being outdoors, as well as the social benefits of an improved communal space.

More information about Nigel Henderson Court can be found here: https://www.cairnha.com/developments/sanquhar/nigel/ More information about the SSE Clyde Dumfries and Galloway Community Fund can be found here: /clyde

Spotlight: Nith Valley Leaf Trust

Team Photo

Community Benefit Funding: Helping to address local housing need and tackle fuel poverty. 

Nith Valley Leaf Trust (NVLT) is a resident-led Development Trust, working across south Scotland, but primarily for the benefit of its host rural community of Closeburn in Dumfries & Galloway.

Closeburn community groups can access two significant community benefit funds, the Clyde Dumfries & Galloway Community Fund provided by SSE from its Clyde windfarm; and funding from the Harestanes wind farm, provided by ScottishPower Renewables and distributed by Annandale & Nithsdale Community Benefit Company (ANCBC). Local volunteer residents make decisions on awards from both funds, supported by grant-making charity Foundation Scotland.

Through consultation with the Closeburn community, NVLT identified several local housing challenges. In particular a lack of affordable, family-sized, rental properties with secure tenancies; and also a lack of energy efficient housing, as many available rental properties are poorly maintained and/or built to outdated standards.

NVLT has been working in partnership with several local stakeholders including Dumfries & Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust and Dumfries and Galloway Council to address these challenges.

In 2013, NVLT purchased an affordable house for rent to a local family, enabling them to avoid poor quality expensive private rented property, or being forced to move out of the area. NVLT purchased the house for £81,000, utilising a mortgage and grant funding, including £35,000 from the SSE Clyde Dumfries & Galloway Community Fund.

In summer 2019, NVLT started building three family-sized passivhaus certified homes, a type of ultra-low energy building that requires little energy for space heating or cooling, enabling low heating bills, higher air quality and healthier homes. These will be the first such community-owned homes in Scotland.

The site was previously owned by Dumfries and Galloway Council and transferred to NVLT by a process of asset transfer at 50% of market value. The cutting edge homes are being funded by The Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund and the Scottish Land Fund, as well as a loan from the Ecology Building Society. Match funding of £52,500 from the SSE Clyde D&G Community Fund and £15,000 from ANCBC has helped unlock this investment and contributed to realising a project that will make a transformational difference to a small rural community.

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