Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC) plans to purchase three acres at the former Hydroponicum site in Achiltibuie, with grant support from the Scottish Land Fund.
The purchase, to be negotiated with the sellers, will allow the community to build around 10 affordable homes as well as provide community green space. It would mark a decade-long attempt for CCDC to buy land to provide much-needed homes.
The project follows a survey on housing need undertaken last year by the Communities Housing Trust on behalf of CCDC, which showed high demand for affordable homes. In particular, families and individuals need to upsize or downsize but currently cannot due to lack of housing, and workers struggle to either find or remain in stable, secure housing.
The Communities Housing Trust will continue to help facilitate the land purchase and development process.
The initial ideas are to provide around 10 community-owned affordable homes with a range of tenures, as well as allow access through the site which stretches from the road down to the sea, to provide shoreline walks and more options for community paths.
The former Hydroponicum site in Achiltibuie, July 2022
Local support for community ownership of the site and initial plans has been overwhelmingly positive. In October last year, around 60 people gave feedback at a community event, where one resident commented:
“100% support this proposal. I could not think of a more perfect project for this land! You have my full support and cannot wait for this to hopefully go through. Exactly what we desperately need for Coigach, makes me feel hopeful that our community will survive and grow."
Richard Williams, Chair of Coigach Community Development Company, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Scottish Land Fund for this grant which we hope will now allow us the rare opportunity to purchase a piece of land at the centre of our village, proving a real game changer for Coigach.
“Once in community ownership we have ambitious plans to transform this site for the long-term benefit of Coigach – by constructing a range of housing types and tenures, realising a long-held goal and key aspiration for the community.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working again with CCDC following the restoration of the Old Schoolhouse six years ago into affordable flats for local residents. We hope the land sale settles swiftly as this has been a long road for CCDC and this new project will provide not just affordable housing, but wider social and economic community benefits too. Our thanks to the Scottish Land Fund for continuing to support community-led projects in rural areas and congratulations to the community on this positive step!”
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