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Crieff Community Trust takes over ownership of Acorn Dell

For the past few months, Crieff Community Trust (CCT) and Crieff Community Initiative (CCI) have been engaged in talks regarding the future ownership of the community owned land at Acorn Dell in Crieff, and CCT are now pleased to confirm that the title deed for the land has been transferred from CCI to CCT to be held in trust for the people of Crieff

Acorn Dell is a small area of woodland which lies along the west side of the Turret Burn and includes the first section of Lady Mary’s Walk. This woodland was named Acorn Dell by two Malaysian businessmen when they acquired it some 25 years ago. However, when they were unsuccessful in their attempt to get planning consent to develop the land, the woodland and the path along the Turret Burn were neglected for many years.

This situation changed in 2012. Following an approach from a volunteer working group set up under the auspices of the former Crieff and Upper Strathearn Partnership, the previous owners agreed to sell the land. A local group then raised the funds to allow Acorn Dell to be purchased, and in May 2012, the title for the land was transferred to local charity, CCI, to be held in trust for the people of Crieff.

Earlier this year, the trustees of CCI, Angus MacDonald and Robert Ferguson, decided to retire and wind up the charity. However, they were keen that the land at Acorn Dell should continue to be safeguarded in the future for the people of Crieff.

Former CCI Chairman Angus MacDonald explained: ‘At the time the money was raised to buy Acorn Dell, the trustees of CCI agreed to take ownership of the land because there was no other suitable community charity available to do so. Crieff Community Trust did not exist at that time, and was not registered as a charity until 2013.’

‘However, over the past few years since CCT was established, they have been very involved in raising the money to repair the path along the Turret Burn which is the first part of Lady Mary’s Walk.  As CCI has now been wound up, we believe that CCT is the right local charity to take over ownership of Acorn Dell, particularly as CCT is a membership organisation, which anyone in Crieff is free to join, and their constitution clearly states that they have been established to benefit the community of Crieff.’

CCT Chair, Ailsa Campbell said: ‘CCT are pleased to take on the ownership of Acorn Dell for the people of Crieff. We are aware of the enormous effort that people like Stuart McLaren, Isobel Simpson and Councillor Ann Cowan made to raise the funds to purchase the land, and to bring it into community ownership in 2012. CCT is committed to honouring that effort and that’s why we obtained grants of £22,000 last year to improve the first part of Lady Mary’s Walk, beside the Turret. It has been great that we have been able to work so positively with CCI on this project.’

CCT Trustee, Jim Anderson, added: ‘CCT knows how important Lady Mary’s Walk is to the people of Crieff. The work that was carried out in January and February on the path along the Turret Burn is just the first phase of a larger objective to create an all-abilities off-road path from Mungall Park to the main section of Lady Mary’s Walk along the River Earn.’

‘We are also very aware that the woodland at Acorn Dell has been badly neglected in the past and as part of our stewardship of the land, we intend to develop a woodland management plan through consultation with people in Crieff.  The woodland management plan will set out how the land will be kept safe and how it be used for the benefit of the local community and visitors to the area. The creation of a woodland management plan is not only a requirement of our insurers, but also a necessary pre-requisite for applying for future grants to improve the land. We have been talking to our local Countryside Ranger, Richard Armstrong, who has agreed to help us with this on a voluntary basis.’

Ailsa Campbell, CCT Chair said, ‘When CCI approached us to take over the ownership of Acorn Dell, we spent some time getting advice from various sources about what this would involve. While we consider it a privilege to be able to hold this land in trust for the people of Crieff, we are also aware that, with the ownership of land, comes responsibility. We are particularly grateful to John Glover, from the Community Land Advisory Service, for his assistance, in helping us to think through these issues. We would also like to give a big thanks to Paul Keith from J&H Mitchell, who provided legal advice and support to CCT with the conveyancing of the land, and to David Geddes at Irving Geddes who supported CCI with this process.’

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