The community of Cardowan in North Lanarkshire is celebrating this week, after stopping a public auction of their play park. The play area is a well-used local park, and when the “For Sale by Auction” signs went up in early February, there was a lot of local interest. The Trustees and volunteers of a local community charity, Cardowan Community Meadow, moved quickly to stop the auction and allow the community the time to bring the land into community ownership.
The landowner has agreed to sell to the community. Cardowan Community Meadow has agreed to purchase, and the contract allows six months to complete their research and put in place a business plan and funding package for the buyout.
The play park is more than just a play area. Located on the site of the historic pit heads of Cardowan Colliery, this is an important local place in the minds of many residents. When the mine was closed in the 1980s, the pit heads were capped, a playground put up, and a private company bought and managed the land.
Annmarie, Chair of Cardowan Community Meadow, said: “Cardowan and its surrounding communities have been mismanaged for many many years. The men that went down the holes that existed here – the lives that were lost here, on this land– their memory will now be protected for generations to come. That’s why we stand here today, representing those seldom-heard voices. We claim back the land, and we will protect it for our children.”
Annmarie continued: “That’s why we have community empowerment. That’s why we have all the Acts of Government. So that people like us, that grew up in these communities, can actually do something about it.”
All Cardowan residents interested in the project are encouraged to get in touch and learn more about the buyout.
Community Land Scotland has been supporting communities in the Clyde Valley through their Community Ownership Hub since 2020. Carey Doyle, manager of the Community Ownership Hub, said:
“More and more communities are grasping the potential of the Community Empowerment legislation, using land reform to address the inequalities they experience on a daily basis. Cardowan suffers from health inequalities, and they are taking matters into their own hands to provide a healthy local environment. “
“The passion, creativity and ability of communities, like Cardowan, is inspiring. However, there are still many challenges that need to be removed to address land inequality—for example, this playpark has complex land ownership records; better transparency would help with that. There is also a lot of good practice emerging. The landowner here worked with the community, selling for a nominal cost, and putting in place timescales that were achievable for the community. Supporting agencies, like the Scottish Land Fund, were flexible to respond to this fast-moving sale. “
Statement from All Volunteers at Cardowan Community Meadow:
“The Sunshine Crew from us to you,
Thank you to Community Land Scotland and the team at Harper MacLeod. Carey and Hannah pulled out all the stops to start the process of bringing this historic piece of land into community ownership in the shortest of timescales. They shared essential experience and empathy of purpose from actions shown and results delivered. Carey’s passion for community showed in every communication, finding commonality of purpose at every stage , this was key to Cardowan community meadow’s historical SUCCESS.
Heartfelt flexibility by all parties allowed for us to see for the first time since our inception that: