Winners will be announced at the end of May.
It's great to see a project from the Highlands make it to the shortlist, and be able to showcase what partnership working and rural communities are capable of. Community-led development is the way forward!
More info: https://myplacescotland.org.uk/my-place-awards-2022/
What housing is needed in the Ullapool and Lochbroom area? Ullapool Community Trust wants to hear from you!
Ullapool Community Trust (UCT) is launching a survey to inform what housing is needed now and into the future.
In partnership with the Communities Housing Trust, UCT is currently seeking to identify possible sites for housing in the Ullapool, Lochbroom and Dundonnell areas. The survey results will help shape what housing is provided, led by the needs and aspirations of the community, and will help ensure the area thrives into the future.
UCT is particularly keen to retain younger people, families and those working in the area, and to provide suitable affordable homes for local people.
The survey is for people who currently live in the Ullapool and Lochbroom area, and local businesses, including potential new businesses. There is also a survey for people who have either left the area but would like to return, or non-residents who would be interested in moving to the area.
Tim Gauntlett, chair of UCT, said: “It will be clear to all who live in our area that housing is the most pressing issue facing us at the moment. This was vividly illustrated by the fact that 89% of those responding to our community needs survey last year said that the provision of housing here was unsatisfactory, and 78% ranked it as 1st or 2nd priority for us to address (way ahead of the next priority – employment and training).
“Almost everybody in this community will be aware of children, relations, friends who are either struggling to get any affordable accommodation at all, or who feel that returning here is impossible at the moment – unless they’re willing to stay with parents or on somebody’s couch.
“The recent boom in the tourist industry has been very welcome in many ways, but it has also brought with it distorting incentives to expand short-term lets – at the expense of younger and poorer folk seeking somewhere to live – and the housing shortage means that many businesses can’t grow as they would like because there simply isn’t anywhere for their staff to live.
“Action is clearly urgently needed, and UCT is committed to doing all it can to provide new and better affordable housing.. But first of all we have to make sure that we know where housing is most urgently needed, what kind of housing will help to address these needs and who the people are who would benefit most from new housing.
“Carrying out this survey will, we hope, give us the detailed information and data to help us target our housing action plan accordingly. So we would urge as many members of the community as possible – and those with connections to the area who wish to return – to take the 15 mins to complete the survey and contribute to solving this huge problem.”
The chair of Lochbroom Community Renewables, Rob Gibson, said: "Broompower backs this detailed housing needs survey from Coigach to Little Lochbroom. It must be the catalyst for much-needed building of affordable homes to secure a balanced community here in north-west Ross."
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of the Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are very pleased to be working with the Ullapool community to understand what’s needed. We know that demand for quality, affordable housing will be high here, and is required to support the local economy – not just for supporting tourism, but diversifying in order to be more resilient. Enabling new businesses to start up, supporting existing ones to grow, and attracting key skills back to the area are all crucial.
“Community-led development is a key part of the solution in rural areas, and can complement other providers. It can be tailored, providing a mix of tenures, a mix of house sizes, and potentially a mix of amenities. This gives the greatest possible flexibility to residents, while also sustaining local businesses and services.”
The survey can be completed online before Monday 28th March at:
THE LIGHTS are now burning brightly in Staffin as six families have moved into their new homes.
The three-bedroom houses are now fully occupied by the new residents of the Taighean a’ Chaiseil development in Stenscholl.
It is the first affordable housing development in the Taobh Sear since 1999 and was led by Staffin Community Trust in response to the falling population and primary school roll and spiralling house prices, which made it difficult for families to compete.
The site, close to the Kilmartin River and a short walking distance from Bun Sgoil Stafainn, was sold by the Stenscholl crofting township and Scottish Ministers to SCT in 2020.
SCT and its partners, the Communities Housing Trust (CHT) and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association (LSHA), delivered the £1.6 million project which includes a new health centre and business premises.
Around 12 adults and eight children have moved into the new homes. Staffin’s population had reduced by 40 people (6.6 per cent) from 610 residents to 568 people in just four years, prior to SCT starting the project feasibility back in 2014.
SCT director Donald MacDonald said: “It is great to see this project moving towards completion after many years of hard work by the trust. Unfortunately, this project does not address the underlying issues, faced by many young people and families, in relation to spiralling property costs, lack of affordable housing and general investment in rural communities. We are grateful for the help we have received from public agencies and The Scottish Government but there is a need to find easier and more effective ways to help those most in need and allow communities to control to have a stronger say in the process.
New Taighean a’ Chaiseil resident Paul Young said: “We’re happy that the children are in safe walking distance to school. It’s nice that these houses have been built together in Staffin, it's in the perfect location for families, giving the children more independence with being able to walk to school and play with their friends. The houses are very cosy and enjoy an amazing view. We are looking forward to making our house our home.”
Another new resident Karen Hutchison added: “I love the wee community feeling between all the residents. It’s so lovely seeing all the kids popping into each other’s’ houses, outside playing and walking to school together.”
Scottish Government grant funding was crucial with support from the Land Fund enabling the site to be transferred to community ownership, and the Rural and Islands Housing Fund a key contributor to the capital package.
Housing secretary Shona Robison MSP said: “Good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in our remote and rural communities. The Scottish Government provided over £650,000 through our Rural and Islands Housing Fund and mainstream Affordable Housing Supply Programme which made it possible for the community to take on this ambitious project and deliver six affordable homes.
“The Rural and Islands Housing Fund has been described as a ‘game changer’ for community-led housing development, increasing the supply of affordable housing. Taken together with our Affordable Housing Supply Programme, more than 6,000 affordable homes in rural and island communities have been delivered between 2016-17 and 2020/21.”
Skye architects Rural Design worked on the project which was constructed by island firm, James MacQueen Building Contractors Ltd.
The new community-owned health centre and business premises are due to be tenanted in March and April by NHS Highland and the local aquaculture company, Organic Sea Harvest, respectively.
Key funders also included LEADER, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the SSE Sustainable Development Fund, the Ecology Building Society, the Quaker Housing Trust and a crowdfunding campaign, plus a guarantor loan from Highland Council.
The homes are a mix of affordable rent, managed by LSHA and SCT, and discounted sale, managed by CHT, where the affordability is protected in perpetuity for the local community through the Rural Housing Burden. People with connections to the area were prioritised as a way to promote the ongoing sustainability of rural communities.
SCT will use the rental income from the properties to manage and maintain the new development. It is hoped to organise a formal opening event in early summer.
Ronnie MacRae, CHT chief executive, said: “CHT are delighted to have been able to support this community-led project from beginning to end, developing the concept of mixed use, mixed partner site including the innovative business plan and helping to acquire the land. Congratulations to SCT who have delivered this mixed development of homes and amenities that will enable a stronger more resilient Staffin and provide a template and confidence for many other similar communities to follow. Key to success was the support of Scottish Government and Highland Council amongst others who recognised the need to provide a range of affordable housing tenures, for flexibility and choice, alongside working with HIE and the NHS to provide essential amenities that will improve social and economic opportunities going forward.”
Dr Audrey Sinclair, LSHA chair said: “I wish to congratulate Staffin Community Trust and all their partners involved in this unique mixed use and tenure development. SCT rose admirably to the many challenges from inception to completion of this project and the housing association is so pleased to have played a part in assisting SCT achieve their vision.”
The new development was designed to complement the landscape with Rural Design’s Alan Dickson mindful of the National Scenic Area designation which blankets Staffin. It includes significant stonework with walls and a gable end feature and the use of timber and traditional slated roofs.
Mr Dickson said: “It’s fantastic to see families moving in. It has been quite a journey for the Staffin Community Trust and their partners to achieve this, and shows what can happen when a group comes together, and doesn’t take no for an answer. We are so pleased to have been able to help and demonstrate that new housing can be part of our areas of outstanding natural beauty. Hopefully this can now encourage other rural communities to do the same.”
James MacQueen, of James MacQueen Building Contractors Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have worked on such an important local housing, health and business project in north Skye that supports and encourages community sustainability and growth.
"The first new affordable housing development in Staffin for 23 years, achieved through the dedication of the Staffin Community Trust supported by Communities Housing Trust, Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association and project funders - it demonstrates what can be achieved when we collaborate and work together. We are immensely proud to be involved in delivering the much-needed affordable housing, creating homes for future generations and reinvigorating the local community. We wish the new Taighean a’ Chaiseil residents all the very best in their new homes.”
Communities Housing Trust (CHT) is working in partnership with the Cairngorms Business Partnership to identify what housing is required to alleviate the issue of staff accommodation in the area.
We have designed two short surveys, for completion by a range of business owners and their employees. It is crucial that CHT can determine the most appropriate housing mix to meet the needs of the local business community and inform future housing development proposals for the area.
In 2021, the Cairngorm Business Partnership carried out a survey which identified a major challenge for businesses in the vicinity. Many of the businesses stated that they were having difficulty attracting and retaining staff due to a lack of available housing.
We now need your help to ensure that we identify and deliver the right type of housing that will be able to support the attraction and/or retention of employees in the area.
The survey results will inform any new housing development proposals, providing a clear business case for offering housing solutions to local businesses and their employees.
It is vital that we hear from as many businesses and their employees as possible and ask that you contribute to the survey, even if this is not an issue for you currently.
If you have struggled to attract staff in the past, please fill in the survey explaining what type of housing might have made this easier for you.
Take the survey for employers and businesses: https://hscht.survey.fm/employer-cbp-survey
Take the survey for employees: https://hscht.survey.fm/cbp-employee-housing-need-survey. Please share this short survey as widely as possible amongst your staff.
Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) is launching an island-wide survey to inform what accommodation and range of tenures is required for keyworkers, now and into the future.
In partnership with Community Enterprise and the Communities Housing Trust, MICT is undertaking feasibility work to provide homes for keyworkers, with funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural Communities Into Action fund which is administered by Inspiring Scotland.
The survey results will help shape what accommodation should be developed, led by the needs and aspirations of organisations and businesses, and will help ensure the islands thrive into the future. This could be for short term needs (like trades and the hospitality sector) or “stepping stone” accommodation for essential workers such as teachers and health professionals.
MICT is particularly keen to retain and attract younger people, families and those working in the area, to ensure services remain and that people of all ages can live and stay within their communities.
The survey is aimed at public sector organisations and businesses of all kinds who are struggling to find or retain staff because of lack of accommodation.
Helen Macdonald, Housing Project Officer at MICT said: “The lack of accommodation and housing on our islands is a major constraint to our local businesses, and a solving it is key priority for MICT.
“We are grateful to Inspiring Scotland for awarding us funding via the Rural Communities Ideas into Action fund to undertake a detailed feasibility study and options appraisal for the provision of key worker accommodation on Mull and Iona, working with Community Enterprise and Communities Housing Trust.”
Douglas Westwater, CEO of Community Enterprise, said: “A recent visit to Mull confirmed that this is a major issue. What we need now is detail about the scale and nature of the need so we can find a way to address it”.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Mull and Iona community, drawing on our experience to look outside the box, and provide appropriate solutions through a range of tenures and housing models. Island services and economies can be fragile and we now have an opportunity to address this for the long term, with Scottish government policies on land reform, supporting rural housing and community empowerment.”
The survey can be completed online at: https://www.chtrust.co.uk/surveys or https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MICT_Key_Housng.
This blog features a variety of CHT’s developments and projects located throughout the central and northern Scotland. It also includes the latest news and updates regarding the Trust.