THE owners of two patches of land in the west end of Helensburgh have hit out at a local community group over its plans to use new legislation to force a community buy-out of the sites.

Thomas Paterson and Margery Osborne said their land at the Castle Wood, next to the new social housing at Castle Wood Court, and at nearby Cumberland Avenue did not fit the definition of “abandoned or neglected land” as set out in community right-to-buy regulations which came into force last year.

A postal ballot of west Helensburgh residents on behalf of the Helensburgh Community Woodland Group, aimed at gauging the level of local support for a community buy-out, started on September 9.

READ MORE: Public vote on Helensburgh woodland group's buy-out plans

In a joint statement, Mr Paterson and Ms Osborne told the Advertiser: “We would like to remind HCWG that they refused to accept a proposal for ACHA ( Argyll Community Housing Association) to continue the affordable homes at the former Jutland Court site, which would have provided an additional 18, much needed, affordable homes.

“The remainder of the land – i.e 80 per cent, over 4.2 acres – was offered to them as a gift to create their woodland.

“This offer was rejected.

“Yet again we find ourselves being badgered by HCWG who are relentless in their attempt to purchase land that is not for sale.

READ MORE: 'End game in sight' in Helensburgh woodland ownership battle

“They seem intent on using community right to buy legislation but, the criteria for use of this legislation is that the land be abandoned or neglected, neither of which apply to these sites.

“We have a tree maintenance programme in place at Castle Wood, approved by Argyll and Bute Council, with works being carried out removing dangerous trees. These works are ongoing.

“As for Cumberland Avenue, on several occasions in the past our maintenance contractors were stopped from carrying out maintenance works, even weed killing. We now have a five year maintenance schedule in place, agreed with Argyll and Bute Council, with phase one underway.

“Surely we live in a democracy, and if a landowner or property owner doesn’t want to sell their land, they shouldn’t have to.

“For approximately 15 years now we have been pursued by HCWG regarding these sites.

READ MORE: Talks break down over plans for Helensburgh woodland's future

“Are there really no other sites in Helensburgh available for a woodland, such as Duchess Wood? Or is it just Castle Wood and Cumberland Avenue HCWG want or nothing?”