Largo group to test new derelict land law

Mark Ruskell MSP meets members of the Largo Communities Together steering group on the Largo estate.
Mark Ruskell MSP meets members of the Largo Communities Together steering group on the Largo estate.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell has backed plans for a community buyout in the East Neuk which he says could be the first test for new laws over the right to buy derelict land.

Largo Communities Together is a charity looking to develop community enterprises and outdoor recreation space on the Largo Estate between Upper and Lower Largo.

The site currently contains derelict buildings, historic walled gardens and farm land, as well as the remains of Largo House and stables, which was used to house and train Polish paratroopers during WW2.

The Land Reform Act gave new powers to communities to buy land deemed to be abandoned or neglected, but the final guidelines were only put in place in June this year, and have yet to be used.

Parts of the Largo Estate are included on the register of derelict land, and Largo House is on the buildings at risk register.

Mr Ruskell, who visited the site recently, said: “You can’t fail to be excited by the possibilities for this land.

“The farm buildings could provide business units, educational spaces, or a café or restaurant for visitors.

“There is huge potential for allotments and community supported agriculture in the walled gardens. And reopening pathways could provide a safe route for walkers and cyclists, avoiding the busy and sometimes dangerous A915.

“It’s sad to see the buildings and land lying in the state it is currently, but this is exactly the kind of situation the Land Reform Act was designed to address.

“This will be a test of how well the legislation works, and I’ll be following closely to see if we need further tweaks or more support for local communities.”

Largo Communities Together are writing to residents in the villages about a series of consultation meetings.

Louise Robb, chair of the charity, said “The steering group of Largo Communities Together is very small.

“What we need now is everyone who has some energy for this to step in and get involved in any way they can.

“Make a start by coming and having your say on what you would like to see happening on the land beside our villages”.