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Thursday, October 21, 1999 Published at 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK

UK: Scotland

Go-ahead for islanders in land sale

A question mark has hung over Cumbrae's future

Residents of a popular Scottish holiday island have successfully in buying most of it at a cost of more than £1m.

Farmers and other tenants have had bids totalling £1,009,500 for various parts of Great Cumbrae accepted by former racing driver and aristocrat Johnny Dumfries.

The island which has 12 miles of coastline, and lies off the Ayrshire coast, was put on the market earlier this year.

About 2,500 acres, comprising most of the island, were offered in 14 lots including six farms, a golf course, bowling club, boatyard and ferry slipway.

'Very satisfactory result'

The closing date for lots was on Wednesday and 24 were received in total - including two bids for the whole island, which were both rejected.

Bob Cherry, of selling agents Cluttons Daniel Smith, said: "There was never any question that the whole island was for sale because the seller didn't own it all.

[ image: Access to and from Cumbrae is by ferry]
Access to and from Cumbrae is by ferry
"He did own 90% of it and that's what has been sold. Some parts weren't owned by estate including the town of Millport.

"It's a very satisfactory result that most of the existing tenants have successfully bid for their land."

Mr Cherry said the sale was not really a community purchase. "The golf club bought the golf course and Caledonian MacBrayne bought the ferry slipway and the individual tenants bought individual lots," he added.

Cathy Macintyre, whose family have been successful in their bid, said some concerns still remained, particularly in finding the money for the land.

She said: "We'll maybe just have to tighten our belts a bit now but obviously unless we had thought it was not achievable we wouldn't have made the offer.

"So we're hoping that things will be all right for us."

Popular destination

Rural Scottish communities have bought the land where they live several times in recent years, most notably on the island of Eigg.

But Great Cumbrae is much bigger with about 1,300 inhabitants who mostly live in Millport.

The island, just a few minutes by ferry from the mainland, has been a popular destination for generations of day-trippers and holidaymakers.

But its popularity has waned in recent years and many on the island say investment is needed.

Johnny Dumfries is a former Formula One driver and 1988 Le Mans winner who is now known as the Marquess of Bute.

The Marquess, who is worth a reported £120m, married former model Serena Wendell earlier this year and the couple have a daughter.

He already has three children from his previous marriage.

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