An application to buy the Glencanisp and Drumrunie estates, part of the Assynt Estate in Scotland, has been made by the local community, halting the normal process of the sale.

Two letters have been sent to the Vestey family, which currently owns the two estates, seeking views on the community?s application. The Vesteys now have until the end of the month to reply.

Receipt of the letters prohibits the landowner from taking any further action on the sale of the land under new legislation brought about by last year?s Land Reform Act.

The Act allows local communities to make a pre-emptive bid to buy land that comes up for sale.

Alasdair MacAskill, the local butcher leading the community steering group, said that a feasibility study is currently being carried out for what can be done with the land.

Although the plans cannot be published, he said that housing is a priority: ?One of the most obvious ideas is to look at sites for the construction of affordable housing and crofts, which is allowed under the Crofters Act. However there is still a lot of work to be done. Sentimentality is not enough. You also need a viable business plan,? he said.