The National Trust for Scotland wants heritage and conservation bodies to join forces to share responsibility for running and promoting historic attractions and help it to “fill the gaps” in its portfolio by rescuing other sites. It has called a major summit for later this month.
A new five-year strategy for the organisation, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, is expected to begin moves to ensure NTS does not “overlap” with the likes of Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB.
Although its main focus is on 130 flagship sites, NTS is also responsible for 200,000 acres of countryside, 46 of Scotland’s Munros, seven nature reserves, 248 miles of coastline and 16 remote islands, including Canna and St Kilda.
In future, NTS is expected to focus more on “heritage of national importance”. Rundown castles, neglected islands, old cinemas and concert halls, as well as the highlights of Scotland’s industrial heritage, including factories and even giant cranes, are expected to be targeted for restoration under the five-year strategy.
Trust chairman Sir Kenneth Calman dispelled fears that the organisation was to embark on “asset-stripping” in the wake of its well-publicised financial problems.
The charity insists it has no plans to dispose of any of its major sites of national significance, insisting it will shed properties only if they are found to be of no heritage value. National Trust for Scotland will see it become more commercially minded, intervene to save threatened historic sites and “sweat” its existing assets to make them generate more money.
The National Trust for Scotland is to sell off some of its properties as part of a series of reforms to save it from collapse, after a damning review found the organisation had no central asset register of what it owns or any idea of repair costs.
The report states that the 79-year-old National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which owns many of the country’s most famous sites such as Culloden battlefield, Culzean Castle and the islands of St Kilda, is in a shambolic state, thanks in part to a “byzantine” management structure involving 87 trustees and more than 100 non-executive members.
It is to sell off a series of less significant buildings, including bungalows, byres and farm steadings gifted in wills, and lease other major properties to charities, trusts and private tenants.A source suggested the sell-off could extend to the trust’s 78,000 hectares of land and coastline, which includes famous wilderness areas such as Glencoe.
The trust owns 26 castles, palaces and country houses, crowned, for many, by this grand Italianate property. Built on cliffs in Ayrshire by Robert Adam for the Earl of Cassillis, it has 229 hectares of landscaped parkland. It was completed in 1792.
The location of an infamous massacre of the MacDonalds by the Campbells, Glencoe features eight challenging Munros, mountains over 3,000ft, more than 5,000 years of human settlement. Its famous scenery is seen by a million visitors a year.
The only place in Britain to be a double world heritage site, for its archaeology and its wildlife, the islands of St Kilda lie 41 miles west of the outer Hebrides, boasting northern Europe’s largest seabird colony and rare marine life.