The Scottish Land Commission is hosting Land Reuse Month 2022 to explore how to support delivery of land reform in the public sector. Tackling vacant and derelict land is essential to quality place-making, bringing numerous benefits to local authorities and communities. The renovation and redevelopment of Carluke High Mill by the local community into a heritage hub with community facilities and a learning garden is a fantastic example of activating derelict buildings and spaces for the benefit of the wider community.


Carluke High Mill was built in 1801 in Carluke town centre. Close to the High Street, surrounded by houses and across the road from two schools, it is a prominent site within the community. As the most complete windmill in Scotland, it is a Category A listed building but is on the Buildings at Risk register and the wider site is classed as one of Scotland’s “stuck sites” as it has been derelict for more than 20 years. All of this makes it a complicated but worthwhile site to bring back into use.

The Carluke community have held long-standing ambitions to bring the High Mill back to life. Through a series of “Carluke Conversations”  the community developed their vision for the site as a heritage tourism destination which also meets the needs of the town’s residents. The site surrounding the building is being developed as a community growing and learning garden, with space for the community food hub and outdoor classrooms which will be used by the nearby schools. The building itself will deliver indoor community facilities and rentable high-end events space along with the heritage attractions in the mill tower itself.

Across all stages of this project, community volunteers have been at the centre of its development. They have been central to advocating for the development and conducting conversations with the community and key partners. 

Building and site redevelopment

Carluke Development Trust took ownership of the site in 2018, purchasing it from a private landowner through a negotiated sale. Prior to this a feasibility study and business case had been undertaken along with a lot of community consultation, to develop their proposals for the site. Design has been moving forward since gaining ownership, with planning permission and listed buildings consent granted in October 2020.

The project is now moving towards it’s first of a two-phase construction. The first phase will focus on repairing the historic elements of the site and the second phase will focus on development of the new buildings. With the assistance of local volunteers, the grounds have been brought into use as a community growing & learning garden, complete with solar power, and rain water capture systems both of which will reduce the facility’s impact on the environment.

How is it funded?

The early stages of the project were funded by the Architectural Heritage Fund which led to a successful bid to the Scottish Land Fund in 2018, allowing the community to purchase the site from the private owner. In 2020 the project joined the Development Trust Association Scotland and Scottish Land Commission partnership project which assists community-led organisations bringing new uses to Vacant and Derelict Land.

Funding for the growing and learning garden has since been secured from the Community Climate Asset Fund and the Vacant & Derelict Land Investment Programme, allowing the garden to be fully developed in 2021 & 22. Funding for the repair of the tower and capital development of the site is currently being raised, with detailed design work currently underway. 

What activities will the project deliver?

As the project develops and delivers it will implement a range of activities to ensure the long-term sustainability of the community resource:

  1. Community benefit activities, workshops, and programmes.
  2. Income generation activities, including rental of local markets, the sale of produce, hanging baskets, potted plants, Carluke High Mill merchandise.

The heritage tourism aspects will bring visitor footfall alongside hosting of local events. Partnerships with local groups being based or using the site will also bring in a small income. In this video from the Community Land Scotland ‘Meet the pioneers’ zoom event in June 2021, Bill Anderson, Development Manager speaks about the project.

What key thing can we learn from the project?

“The quicker a project can deliver any form of activity the better. As this will bring in your community who will then start to ask questions, become more involved and will see the activities that they can access, which will also provide tangible evidence to funders. We have created a resource that funders can physically see the benefits of their investment, rather than just a piece of paper with aspirations and aims, which of course we had to do at the beginning.”

Land Reuse Month 2022

For more information about each week of Land Reuse Month 2022 and to register for your free place please see Scottish Land Commission's Land Use Month event programme details.