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Three Highland communities await councillors’ decision on their asset transfer bids

Three community asset transfers with a commercial value of £260,000 will be put before Highland councillors for approval next week.

Although the transfers would offer a fraction of the commercial value, Highland Council says the wider community benefits are more important, and councillors are being asked to agree the proposals.

Acharacle Community Company (ACC) wants to take ownership of its community centre for £30,000, while Inverness Rowing Club plans to take over a plot of land  for a new boathouse at the former Torvean Golf Course for £1 and Wick community hub is requesting ownership of Rosebank playing fields and pavilion for £1.

ACC took control of the village’s community centre in 2012, on lease from the council, and with funding help from NHS Highland.

Acharacle community centre is the subject of a community asset transfer bid. Submitted

ACC runs a wide range of activities in the centre, including a three day a week lunch club. Many groups use the building as do therapists, grazings committees and  local councillors for meetings and surgeries.

ACC’s income from these activities is boosted by the rental of car parking spaces to Royal Mail.

With their current lease coming to an end, ACC has researched the viability of an asset transfer, allowing it to upgrade, renovate and alter the centre to make it more suitable and sustainable for the future.

ACC chairwoman Marie-Luise MacDonald said: “It’s quite exciting.

“It’s a case of trying to keep it within the community and guarantee services longer-term.

“This is a thriving community, with quite a few young ones and a really great school.

“Taking control of the centre gives us more flexibility, we can adapt and change to suit the needs of all walks of the community.”

Wick Youth Club, now renamed Wick Community Hub, wants to buy out the popular Rosebank playing fields and pavilion to maintain and enhance outdoor sports and recreation for the area.

Rosebank playing fields and pavilion, Wick. Submitted.

The group has already refurbished and decorated the pavilion, replaced fencing, extended the car park, added flower tubs and hanging baskets and taken over the full maintenance of the championship bowling green.

Their aspirations are to upgrade the toilets and changing facilities, install energy efficient radiators and upgrade the crazy golf, football and tennis areas.

They also want to create a new play area for pre-school children, and increase staffing levels.

Youth club manager Julie Mackinnon said: “Only leasing the facility at present prevents us from taking our ideas further.

“Taking ownership would greatly improve our chances of gaining funding and putting in place improvements which would be of great benefit to all ages.”

For Inverness Rowing Club, the land at Torvean for a new boathouse would be a catalyst for growing its membership and providing modern facilities fit for the future.

The club, founded in 1988, has aspired to a bigger boathouse since 2001.

Councillors will determine the applications at this Wednesday’s communities and place meeting.

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