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Harper Macleod advises on transfer of historic Lewis lighthouse station to the local community

Harper Macleod is delighted to have advised on the sale of the 120-year-old former lighthouse station known as 'An Taigh Mòr' in Lewis to a local community trust.

The leading law firm's team worked tirelessly with its client, Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP), the trust and local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, to ensure that the transfer was completed before a visit by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal on 2 October 2019. The Princess unveiled a commemorative plaque marking the transfer of ownership during her visit to the village of Breasclete.

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Urras an Taighe Mhòir, the local community trust, has ambitious plans for the building, which had previously been used by HHP as social rented housing.

An Taigh Mòr (which translates as The Big House), is famous as the shore-base for the families of lighthouse keepers to the Flannan Isles where, in 1900, three keepers vanished without a trace. That tragedy is the basis for the fictional movie The Vanishing which was released this year starring Gerard Butler and Peter Mullan.

The building has special significance, to not only lighthouse history, but also to the village within which subsequent keepers and their families lived for up to seventy years following the tragedy.

Norman MacLeod, Chairman of HHP said “It is great to see An Taigh Mòr being returned to the community at Breasclete following the sale from Hebridean Housing Partnership, who took management of the building in 2006 after the transfer of social housing stock from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

"Given the building’s historic status it became incredibly costly to bring the eight flats up to the Scottish Housing Quality Standard so in November 2015 the Board took the decision to sell it, and we are thrilled to finally hand over the keys to Urras an Taighe Mhòir and look forward to seeing how the community group are going to transform it.”

Collette Miller, Partner at Harper Macleod LLP, said: "We were delighted to play our part in seeing ownership of An Taigh Mòr transfer to the local community, particularly being part of the efforts to ensure that it went ahead in time for the visit of The Princess Royal. This was a complicated transaction, but with the goodwill and co-operation of all parties, including the Scottish Ministers who helped support and fund the project, we were able to get the deal over the line. The building has a fascinating history and clearly plays an important role in the local community, so it's great to see that its future is in the hands of that community who clearly have great plans for it."

A spokesperson for the community group said: "From the announcement of their intention to sell, Hebridean Housing Partnership’s support of a community buy-out has been central to a progression to ownership, an ambition which has now been realised through funding from both the Scottish Government and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

"The community would like to thank the Scottish Government, the Comhairle and HHP for their roles in securing this building for which there is so much attachment locally, promoting the heritage, history and cultural importance of An Taigh Mòr to our island."