Thursday, December 15, 2005


Timeshare Flats Option For Scots Castle

PART of an island castle could be sold off as timeshare properties under a plan to restore the landmark which is proving too expensive for a government watchdog to maintain.

Kinloch Castle on Rum, once the luxury home of the island's landlord, is owned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) which runs the island as a nature reserve.

SNH, which spends £65,000 a year on the 105-year-old building's upkeep, presently uses it as a hostel, bistro and for visitor tours. Its future is seen as a vital part of the development of the island, which is trying to attract more residents.

Yesterday, the Prince of Wales's Phoenix Trust published proposals for the castle's future with restoration estimated to cost about £6 million.

The trust has suggested three possible options - maintaining the existing use of the castle with major restoration; conversion to eight flats, which could be sold as timeshare apartments; or a combination of flats, education and entertainment facilities, with commercial and public access to principal rooms.

Studies will now be carried out to identify the most sustainable option and the most likely to attract funding. A recommendation will then be made to the SNH board.

David Maclennan, SNH's area manager, said: "The castle has a key role to play in the island's future. It is a major visitor attraction and it offers visitor accommodation and catering facilities. But as well as an asset it is also a liability in terms of the funding requirements that go beyond SNH's normal remit."

A SNH spokeswoman said the castle could be bought privately or by a trust with individual properties possibly leased or sold.

Fliss Hough, of Rum Community Association, said the options, identified in partnership with the island residents, are likely to offer a sustainable future for the castle and complement a development plan for the village of Kinloch.

"This would enhance the island for the community and visitors alike and could well lead to a whole range of further opportunities."

Douglas King, the honorary secretary of the Kinloch Castle Friends Association, said the group has been increasingly concerned about the deteriorating state of the castle and favours option three. He said: "It has enormous potential to boost tourism and employment on the island."

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