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Friday, September 3, 1999 Published at 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK

UK: Scotland

Green light for sale of island

The ferry crossing from Largs takes seven minutes

The island of Great Cumbrae, off the coast of North Ayrshire, has been put up for sale at offers over £900,000.

The asking price for the whole island - in part owned by former Formula One racing driver Johnny Dumfries - is considerably less than was originally reported.

The traditional holiday destination for Scots is also available in lots, ranging in price from £5,000 to £135,000.

Some of the islanders now hope to raise the money to buy the lots their homes stand on.

[ image: Cumbrae attracts many visitors]
Cumbrae attracts many visitors
The island is home to nearly 1,300 people and is linked to the mainland by a seven-minute ferry crossing from Largs.

The island is currently owned by the Seventh Marquis of Bute, Johnny Dumfries, as part of the Bute estates.

It is held in the name of London-based property company Cumbrae Properties (1963), whose directors are members of the Bute family.

The marquis said recently the decision to put the island up for sale was "purely commercial" because Great Cumbrae no longer fitted in with the way the company saw itself developing.

He sent a personal letter to the five tenant farmers on the island, inviting them to consider buying their farms.

There was speculation that the asking price for the island would be in excess of £3m.

Land reform

The Scottish Executive recently announced plans for a Land Reform White Paper, the first stage in a five-year rolling programme of land reform.

This will give communities the right to register an interest on land where they live.

When they know an estate is up for sale, they will then have six months in which to organise a bid at the market rate for the property.

Under the terms of the White Paper, the purchase price would be determined by a government-appointed valuer.

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