Plans for a community buyout of the historic Castle Toward Estate in Argyll took a step closer with the announcement of a £750,000 Scottish Land Fund award.
South Cowal Community Development Company (SCCDC) will put the funding towards purchasing the 143 acre estate to preserve buildings and create new jobs for local people.
The estate includes the Grade B listed house, which will be leased and developed by a national outdoor education company, and the gatehouse which the community plan to develop for a range of activities including a tea-room, bunk-house, self-catering units and retail workshops.
This kind of news doesn't happen very often and it will certainly lift spirits here in South Cowal - Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart, chairman of SCCDC, said: "This kind of news doesn't happen very often and it will certainly lift spirits here in South Cowal.
“The local community have been behind the community buyout 100% over the past six months, attending open days, local meetings, fundraising events and even a record turnout for community ballot on the estate’s future.”
Argyll and Bute Council has been trying to sell the estate for the last few years to no avail.
Scottish Land Fund Committee chairman, John Watt, said: "In Argyll, plans to purchase and preserve a historically significant estate will lead to a substantial number of new jobs being created which will help to build a more sustainable future for those living there now and in the future."
A spokeswoman for Argyll and Bute Council said: "We have been working positively with South Cowal Community Development Company as it pursues its aspirations for the Castle Toward property.
"This work will continue and will include discussions about the price payable."
The Scottish Land Fund is funded by £9 million from the Scottish government and is administered by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise.