Highland Council have confirmed receipt of an ambitious community led plan to take over ownership of part of Storr woodland on Skye.
Staffin Community Trust has submitted an asset transfer request made under Part 5 of the Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015, which relates to less than one hectare of the site for which the proposed purchase price is £1000.
The Trust is seeking to develop a visitor arrival zone including car parking, toilets and the provision of information. In addition to transfer of ownership, the Trust wants a contribution of £400,000 from the Council towards the proposals. The remainder of the 82 hectare site would continue in the ownership of Highland Council.
In accordance with the requirements of the Community Empowerment Act, The Highland Council has six months in which to undertake consultation and evaluation in order to reach a decision regarding the request. Until the asset transfer request is determined, the Council is prohibited from selling, leasing or otherwise disposing of the specific area of land to which the request relates.
Documents relating to the request can be viewed on the Council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/cat (external link), or in person at The Highland Council, Tigh na Sgire, Portree, IV51 9GP.
General information about the asset transfer scheme is available at www.gov.scot/asset (external link) transfer and at www.highland.gov.uk/cat (external link).
The Council recognises the ability of the Storr Woodland site to generate revenue from parking charges and seeks a mechanism by which such charges could be harnessed to enable not only the ongoing management and maintenance of the site, but also the provision of fit for purpose parking and public toilets. Parking charges will be introduced at Storr as part of the Council’s Highland-wide programme of parking charges.
Storr Woodland, formerly a commercial forestry plantation, was purchased by Skye and Lochalsh District Council from the Forestry Commission in 1994, with financial assistance from SNH. The Highland Council manages and maintains the site as a countryside recreational facility and recently felled all coniferous woodland, the lower slopes of the site being restocked for the creation of new native woodland. Recently upgraded paths provide a high standard of access through the area towards the Old Man of Storr, access to which is the main purpose for the majority of visitors to the site. There is a small informal car park plus recently upgraded roadside parking, but parking capacity is significantly below that needed to cope with steadily increasing visitor numbers, well in excess of 120,000 per annum. It is widely accepted that there is substantial need for improved parking provision and public toilets at Storr Woodland and that the very significant visitor numbers underpin a valuable tourist industry in a relatively remote area of Highland.