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ONE of Scotland's richest men wants pounds 250,000 of taxpayers' cash to do up his country estate.

The 18th Earl of Strathmore, Michael Fergus Bowes-Lyon, has asked for the money to redevelop Glamis in Perthshire.

Queen's cousin Bowes-Lyon, 49, who also owns the castle, wants to turn the site of a dilapidated cottage and steading on the 19,000-acre spread into five new homes.

He is expecting to be given a Communities Scotland grant to help pay for the work.

Lord Strathmore will make formal application for the rural empty properties handout once he has received full planning consent from Angus Council.

Under Community Scotland rules, as long as he agrees to keep rents on the five new homes at an "affordable rate" for five years, he can claim up to 50 per cent of the building costs.

The total price is expected to be around pounds 500,000 but the actual value of the properties, once they are built, could be treble that.

The earl - known to pals as Mikey - has written to Angus Council, telling them the old steading and cottage on the Glamis Estate are "regrettably beyond repair for farming purposes".

He insists they are "too small to restore for housing".

He said: "The cottage and steading have lain unused since 1969, and it is a long time since it was a viable farming agricultural unit."

A structural engineering report to the council concluded that the buildings were in "various states of dilapidation".

The earl has told the council it is likely he will receive the backing of Communities Scotland for his plans, and that they would breathe "new life into the local area and environment".

He said: "Communities Scotland is willing to support this project, so these properties can be offered at a modest rent. I am sure they will be attractive to those wishing to work in Angus and offer valuable and desirable new affordable housing stock."

Communities Scotland confirmed they had received correspondence over draft plans for the development at Woodend Mains of Rochelhill.

A spokesman said: "The project is being supported in principle."

But Solidarity leader Tommy Sheridan said: "It's ridiculous that a multimillionaire is entitled to state handouts.

"Affordable housing should be built on publicly acquired land not being put to a useful purpose."

Glamis Castle is the childhood home of the late Queen Mother, and birth-place of the late Princess Margaret. It is also a favourite with tourists prepared to pay to see round it.

The earl has shelled out a lot of cash of late, including a reported pounds 5million divorce settlement with his first wife Isobel, with whom he has three sons.

He had fallen in love with psychologist Damaris Stuart-William, 42, with whom he has a son, aged two.

He also confessed to a drink problem and was caught entertaining three call girls at his second stately home, Holwick Lodge in County Durham.

The Strathmore family have lived on the Glamis Estate since 1372 and, before inheriting his title in 1987, the earl was a stockbroker. He was a Tory whip in the House of Lords until 1994.

'It's ridiculous that he is entitled to this cash' Tommy Sheridan



Tourist favourite: Glamis Castle; Childhood home: Queen Mother; Colourful: The Earl of Strathmore was caught entertaining call girls
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 16, 2007
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