A GROUP planning a near £900,000 buy-out of a Peeblesshire woodland has secured first stage cash of £30,000 from the Scottish Land Fund.

The funding will pay for a business plan and for a consultant to complete a management plan for Friends of Broughtonknowe (FoB).

The community buy-out plan for the 136-acre woods, just north of Broughton, sandwiched between the A701 and the A72, was launched at a public meeting, attended by at least 70 people in July.

The buy-out became reality when current Broughtonknowe owner Christopher Lambton decided to sell in June last year. He made it known he was prepared to accept a community buy-out and wait while the process took place.

John Hart, of FoB, recently announced news of the first stage funding to the group and said that a preliminary meeting had been held with the chosen contractor, Duncan MacPherson of MacPherson Group, who will lead the buy-out bid.

Mr Hart said: “We now have six months to prepare our Stage Two application (to the Scottish Land Fund), which is for the woodland valuation purchase price.

“There are a lot of criteria to be met but hopefully this work is now in capable hands.

“If successful Stage Two funding will cover 95 per cent of the woodland value.

“Part of our Stage Two process will be to plan and carry out the necessary fundraising for the remaining five per cent.”

The Scottish Land Fund provides Scottish Government money distributed by the National Lottery.

There will be two informative walks in Broughtonknowe woods on Tuesday, January 23, at 10am and 2pm with opportunities for questions and answers.

A further community meeting is planned for Broughton Village Hall on that Tuesday at 7.30pm “to air proposals for future woodland projects and activities”.

These will be collated by the MacPherson Group and their respective merits advised upon and evaluated before being incorporated into the management and business plan.

The woodland is in three lots and Mr MacPherson advised also including a shed and telegraph mast as it would be a source of income.

Mr Hart added: “As part of the application a formally constituted ‘management committee’ will be created before the final submission.

“This has to be in the form of a SCIO – Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation – which has the legal power to enter into contracts, employ staff and own property. It has a high degree of protection against liability in Scottish Law.”

FoB was initially set up during lockdown in 2021 and had early success with a £16,000 grant from Clyde Windfarms for footpath improvement.

Tweeddale West councillor Viv Thomson said: “This project seems to have captured the imagination of the local community – it’s really positive that they have been successful in getting funding to develop their business and management plan.

“There will obviously be opportunities for the community to get involved in developing the plans for the woodland going forward – exciting times ahead.”