This is the last in a series of monthly blogs about community-led housing in Scotland, jointly written by Mike Staples, Chief Executive at South of Scotland Community Housing (SOSCH), and Ronnie MacRae, Chief Executive at Communities Housing Trust (CHT). Between us we’ve worked with hundreds of communities across Scotland, providing well over 1,000 affordable homes.
We’ve spent the last 12 months illustrating the different benefits of community-led housing by featuring delivered projects across Scotland. This is our final blog – for now – and we simply wish to underline the many and deep-rooted impacts projects can have when led by the needs and wishes of communities themselves. Even one or two homes make a big difference in communities by helping them become more inclusive, resilient, and prepared for the future.
It’s not a theory, or just a nice idea on paper, but proven in practice – see our gallery for examples of developments.
What are the benefits of community-led housing?
Beyond providing forever affordable homes, protected for use by local communities as assets that communities can use to acheive broader economic and social changes, community-led housing is also:
All this with just a few houses!
As such, community-led development fulfils human rights commitments and future planning agendas, as well as many other Scottish Government policies linked to the list above. We believe it should be at the core of policy decisions in Scotland going forward.
We’ve seen coverage and understanding of community-led housing in Scotland grow over the past few years, with continued support from the Scottish Government through the Scottish Land Fund and Rural Housing Fund. Politicians are now more aware of how community-led housing delivers on national targets and community needs—so why not scale it up?
SOSCH and CHT’s work in Scotland is being recognised internationally as models for responsible housing, and shared in European knowledge exchange networks. Just last week, projects that CHT & SOSCH supported made up all three finalists for the ‘Housing & Regeneration’ category of the SURF Awards, underscoring the notable contributions of community-led housing to places up and down the country.
Scotland is well-positioned to expand community-led housing developments, as a leader in the field.
On behalf of communities, we are asking for further support from the Scottish Government and other funders, into normalising community-led housing as a key option for Scotland, particularly in rural and island areas where communities lack capacity to undertake projects themselves.
These blogs have highlighted what communities are achieving through community-led housing, and we ask for recognition and scaled-up funding—for both communities and support organisations—to keep more of these projects coming.
Here’s to realising more community dreams in 2023 and beyond!
17 NEW AFFORDABLE HOMES IN KILBEG DEVELOPMENT
Work on the first new village in Skye in over 100 years begins this week with project partners Sabhal Mòr Ostaig - The National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, The Highland Council and the Communities Housing Trust.
This community-led project will see 17 new affordable homes built as part of the wider Kilbeg Village development in Sleat: 6 homes for social rent with The Highland Council as well as 8 affordable homes and 3 discounted self-build plots with the Communities Housing Trust.
The homes will be a mix of discounted rent and sale, and will include family homes, level-access and wheelchair accessible homes. An adjacent private development by James MacQueen’s Ltd is due to follow shortly after, providing a further 14 flats.
Around 100 homes in total are expected to be built over time, tackling housing needs for all age groups in the community as well as supporting intergenerational living, cultural community spirit and alleviating social isolation.
Given its proximity to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, it is expected that the development will attract Gaelic speakers or learners of all ages, however, the homes will be open to all with a need to live or work in the area.
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Chairman, Angus Macleod said: “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is proud to be spearheading the ambitious Kilbeg project that helps address the chronic need for housing, and aligns with our core aims to support the Gaelic language, culture and local economy.
“This is a great opportunity for those with an affinity to the language and culture to apply to live in accessible, affordable housing in the new Kilbeg community next to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s vibrant campus, where language and culture is shared across generations.”
This next phase follows the Communities Housing Trust’s previous provision of two affordable Rent To Buy homes on the Kilbeg site, now home to two young families.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: "We are extremely excited to be part of this ground-breaking community-led project which will also provide bespoke affordable housing for the elderly and promote intergenerational living. The planned development in Kilbeg is unique in Scotland, in that it will provide a model for a mix of ages and tenures, providing opportunities for older people and younger families to support each other which also takes into account the importance of culture and heritage. Repopulating and regenerating the area in this way makes sense, and helps to ensure long-term future sustainability of the community.”
The development has received funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Partnership Programme, The Highland Council, Scottish Funding Council and the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP commented on a visit to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (pictured above): “It’s been great to see the hard work that has been going into this development, which will help ensure that Gaelic continues to thrive in this community.
“The Scottish Government recognises the important role that Gaelic has in Scotland’s culture and economy. I look forward to seeing this development grow and the positive impact it will have on local communities in Skye.”
Housing Secretary Shona Robison said: “It is fantastic to see work start on this project in Kilbeg. Working with the Communities Housing Trust and The Highland Council and supported by over £1.2 million from Scottish Government, this project will deliver high quality, affordable homes, that will meet people’s needs and allow them to live independently, whilst remaining in their community.
“These homes will support our commitment to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, of which at least 70% will be for social rent and 10% in remote, rural and island communities.
The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Cllr Ken Gowans said: “Creating a community-led new village in Skye for the first time in over 100 years is pioneering, ambitious and pivotal to the Skye and Raasay Future (SARF) plan. The Kilbeg development has community, heritage and culture at its forefront and this innovative approach to intergenerational community living, could well be a catalyst for other areas across Highland. It’s great that construction can begin at Kilbeg and we look forward to working in close partnership with the Communities Housing Trust and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig throughout the Kilbeg village development.”
The homes will be close to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the local primary school and nursery. Also nearby is the local Medical Centre and GP Practice, Café Ostaig and the local community-owned shop at Armadale, which can be accessed by a local community transport service for the elderly.
To express interest in the homes, please register your details at:
Construction work has begun this week on a community-led development of 10 affordable homes in Arisaig.
Arisaig Community Trust is leading the project with support from the Communities Housing Trust.
The development on Station Road will include six community-owned homes for affordable rent and four self-build plots, managed by the Communities Housing Trust. All the plots will be discounted with the Rural Housing Burden, which assures affordability in perpetuity for the local community. All the homes will prioritise people with a need to live or work locally.
In the small community of around 300, an extensive survey in 2018 showed a strong need for housing current residents and incoming workers with key skills, which was set to increase over the following years.
In 2019, residents and local businesses were invited to community workshops about the proposed housing, where there was overwhelming support for energy-efficient, affordable homes with a variety of tenures to meet local needs and budgets.
Arisaig Community Trust then purchased the 2-acre site in 2021 with funding from the Scottish Land Fund. Further funding for the development has been given through the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, the Rural Communities Fund, the Quaker Housing Trust, and The Highland Council.
Full planning permission was granted in October, and contractors S&K Macdonald began work on site this week.
Pamela King, Project Officer for the Arisaig Community Trust said: “We have been very grateful for the support of the Communities Housing Trust and our funding partners in enabling the project to reach this stage. Affordable homes are needed more than ever and it is very exciting to think about the individuals and families who will benefit from this project when they are complete. We have full confidence that S+K MacDonald Homes will deliver fantastic new houses for the village of Arisaig and look forward to seeing things progress over the next year.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of the Communities Housing Trust, said: “This development will provide much-needed homes for 10 families, supporting the continued growth of local services and businesses and helping the wider community to thrive. The project has very much been driven by Arisaig Community Trust and people locally, and we are delighted to help in achieving their aims. We’d like to thank the Scottish Government for their continued funding support for rural community-led developments such as this one.”
To express interest in the homes or self-build plots, please register your details at: www.chtrust.co.uk/future-opportunities.html
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.