CHT is delighted that Planning in Principal has been granted for a small development in Boat of Garten, in the Cairngorms National Park. We have been working with the Boat of Garten community for a number of years to get to this stage.
The land has been made available by the Reidhaven Estate and CHT will develop 2 accessible homes for affordable rent, and the Estate who are our development partner, will provide 2 self-build open market plots.
It was identified early on that there was a lack of affordable rented accommodation for older people in the village and this development will provide 2 wheelchair accessible bungalows aimed at helping older people stay in the community without the need to move away. The site just off Deshar Road is close to the local shops and post office.
Boat of Garten has a high concentration of people over 65 and surrounding areas, and also a high percentage of housing which is classed as a second home or holiday let - 25.1% of all homes according to the 2011 census - which is significantly higher than the national (1.5%) and regional (5.7%) averages.
CHT's affordable homes provided in this development would be let in perpetuity at an affordable level of social equivalent rent, and our allocation policy prioritises people with local live or work connections.
As part of the planning conditions for the development, new planting of native broadleaf trees in two separate sites on Reidhaven Estate land elsewhere in Boat of Garten will be undertaken, three times the size of the development.
This project illustrates the benefits of private landowner collaboration with communities and we are extremely pleased this project can now progress to the next stage.
Communities Housing Trust is delighted that two of our developments have been shortlisted in the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH)'s Scotland Housing Awards 2021.
Our collaborative development with Rothiemurchus and members of the Aviemore community has been shortlisted in the Excellence in Housing Innovation category.
The Old Sawmill development provided a total of six self-build homes on Rothiemurchus land: four affordable plots for the local community that required no public subsidy, and two open-market plots, within the Cairngorms National Park.
The affordable self-build homes all have the Rural Housing Burden attached, a legal title condition which protects the property’s affordability in perpetuity and prioritises the local community in future sales, helping prevent holiday- and second-home ownership.
The community-led development at Achtercairn in Gairloch has been shortlisted In the Excellence in Regeneration category.
This large-scale development to regenerate a derelict brownfield site in the centre of the village provided 25 affordable homes of mixed tenures; the GALE Centre tourist information hub, community shop & cafe (Scotland's first public building to be awarded Passivhaus status); farm shop; Air Training Corps facility; and further sites for development. We worked closely with the local community and a broad range of partners including Albyn Housing Association, Gairloch & Loch Ewe Action Forum (GALE), HIE, Highland Council, and University of the Highlands & Islands.
The winners of the CIH Scotland Housing Awards will be announced in a ceremony in Glasgow on 25 November 2021. Congratulations to all other finalists and a range of projects!
Our development with Staffin Community Trust was featured on the BBC's Disclosure programme on Monday, in an episode about the difficulties finding housing, particularly for younger and low-income folk.
There's no doubt that finding affordable, quality housing is a huge struggle for many rural communities across Scotland.
So what are the positives? The Taighean a' Chaisheil development in Staffin is a community-led and community-owned development, with sale prices and rents set lower than the area average. The community trust decides an allocation policy for the homes (where allocations are made independently of the trust and community, importantly), and the homes for sale have a Rural Housing Burden attached, which means the discounted price applies to all future sales, and again local folk are prioritised in the allocation process.
Yes, it may not be enough homes just now, and it may take longer than standard commercial developments BUT:
We want this to be seen as a positive example of WHAT'S POSSIBLE: a community taking the future into their own hands, finding partners to help make it happen, and doing something about it - as a way to alleviate immediate need; to prove it works, which helps make the case for larger scale projects; and to inspire confidence in other communities to address their own needs and aspirations.
In terms of possible solutions, Staffin Community Trust are already demonstrating it on the ground. And there is such a range of housing options available now, beyond social or mid-market rent - for example Low Cost Home Ownership (as demonstrated in Staffin), or discounted self-build.
Together in Staffin we'll have housed 6 more local families, provided new space for small businesses, and a new NHS health centre. It's a start...
(In addition, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Kilbeg was also mentioned in the programme - we're working in partnership with them on a rather exciting project, site pictured below. More about that very shortly!)
Scottish Housing Day is back for a sixth year continuing to highlight challenges and achievements across the housing sector. As the world's attention will be on Glasgow for the UN's climate conference COP26 in November, this year the focus is on housing and the climate emergency.
Around 13% of Scotland’s carbon emissions are related to the way we heat our homes. The Scottish Government has introduced ambitious targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045 and has committed that, from 2024, gas boilers will no longer be installed in new homes.
The Communities Housing Trust has now been working with communities across Scotland for over 20 years, providing affordable homes, amenities, infrastructure, and addressing social inequalities.
Over the years we've worked on some fantastic developments which really echo this urgent call for change and the wish to be net zero as a country by 2045.
So, for this year's Scottish Housing Day, we wanted to highlight just a few of our community-led projects which have addressed the climate emergency, in different ways, to share what's been done practically, to inspire others, and to raise confidence that solutions do exist.
Communities Housing Trust: community-led developments and the climate emergency
How else to start than with Scotland's first public building to be awarded Passivhaus status? As well as being highly energy-efficient, the GALE Centre in Gairloch is a Tourist Information Hub, and includes a community shop and cafe which stocks produce from over 40 local suppliers, helping to support the local circular economy. It also provides office space for Gairloch & Loch Ewe Action Forum (GALE), enabling them to employ staff year-round as a more stable rural community, and has rooms for community groups to use...
...as well as growing space for veggies, fruit and herbs outside, for use in the community cafe!
The building is part of the Achtercairn development, which also included affordable housing, a shop and other amenities, creating a new centre for the village on a derelict site. (If you want to know more, we're running an event about this development and 20-Minute Neighbourhoods next week, on Thurs 23 September - more info and register here).
Or how about the Ardgeal development near Kincraig in the Cairngorms National Park? The former forestry land was obtained through the National Forest Land Scheme, and the timber felled from the site was used in the construction of the homes...
...similar to these self-build homes in Salen, where a group of local families got together to come up with a solution to their housing issues. As foresters, they were also able to mill timber from on-site for the cladding, and build much of the homes themselves.
Likewise in Rothiemurchus, near Aviemore, these affordable self-builds use local timber, local companies in the construction, and are highly fuel- and energy-efficient, with triple glazing and air-source heat pumps. One has solar photo-voltaics, with more to follow suit, and EPCs on the homes range from B+ to A.
The Old Sawmill development has just been shortlisted in the Scottish Land & Estates Rural Housing category of the 'Helping It Happen' Awards.
We’re really aware how difficult it is as a local person working in this area to find a house and especially to build your own house, but we know it’s possible now. It wasn’t easy and it took a while! But it has worked, and it’s our wish that going through this unwieldy planning process can, and should, make it easier for local residents undertaking such ventures in the future.
The Greener Homes scheme was a partnership between the Communities Housing Trust and the Highland Council, funded by the Scottish Government, to reduce carbon emissions in housing, invest in greener technologies, reduce fuel poverty, and support regional skills development and business opportunities in greener housing.
Homes in Fodderty (pictured above), Arisaig, Lochcarron and Daviot were built in partnership with award winning MAKAR Construction Ltd. The homes were designed and constructed using sustainable Scottish timber. Further homes were constructed in Alness and Dornoch by CHT and the Highland Council.
Currently under construction are 12 affordable homes in Tomintoul, Moray. Built around a shared communal space to address social isolation, the development includes several live/work spaces to provide flexibility for work in a rural area, keeping travel low. There'll also be EV charging points and the homes will be highly energy-efficient to tackle fuel poverty.
And, importantly, it's not just about new builds. Here's an image of the old schoolhouse in Glendale, Skye, where we're working with the local community not only to provide affordable housing, but to use as a case study to make retrofitting and renovating for the climate emergency easier and more effective. It's currently challenging to say the least, with barriers on many fronts, yet repurposing empty and derelict buildings well will be hugely important not only to help the housing crisis, but also the climate crisis.
These projects demonstrate that it's not 'just' about what is used to construct a home, or how far it's travelled - but also how far a family may have to travel to school, to a shop, and what produce that shop stocks. Providing amenities such as this is crucially important - particularly in more rural or remote communities - and have huge positive knock-on environmental impacts. The Scottish Government has announced its support for the idea of 20-Minute Neighbourhoods, enabling people to live better, healthier lives while meeting net zero ambitions. Our community-led projects demonstrate this idea in practice, helping address the climate emergency while redeveloping rural areas. All are based on the needs of communities, and combine extensive partnership working with innovative thinking. Join our AGM next week, on Thursday 23 September, when we'll be sharing in more detail about 20-Minute Neighbourhoods and circular economies in rural areas.
So! We're as positive as we can be about the climate emergency - we think we have some good models for rural housing and community development (tried and tested), suitable for meeting current and future climate needs, and we are continuing to listen to communities, test new solutions, and do even more to address the climate crisis. Our planet needs us to!
What else are we doing to help address the climate emergency? We use an ethical bank - Triodos Bank - who invest in community projects, and our staff pension provider has a Responsible Investment approach and supports the goals of the Paris Agreement.
We use local suppliers whenever we can, with local produce and materials - recognising this is also sometimes a challenge for a charity based in the Highlands!
We use Ecosia to search the web, which plants a tree for every search.
And since lockdown, we're encouraging a mix of home- and office-working which is reducing road miles and fuel emissions.
The below article from Scottish Housing News about the new Scottish Government's Rural Communities 'Ideas Into Action' Fund may be of interest and relevance to your community. The fund will support community-led rural development with small and larger grants.
Not-for-profit community groups in rural areas will soon be able to apply for Scottish Government funding of up to £50,000 to trial new and innovative ways to address local challenges and benefit from local opportunities.
The Rural Communities “Ideas into Action” Fund is supported by £1.5 million of funding and will be delivered in partnership with Inspiring Scotland. It will allow applicants to take forward ideas that will test change while linking community action with addressing local issues.
The fund forms part of the wider £3m fund announced earlier this year in the Scottish Budget, to deliver pilot projects testing innovative ways of delivering Community Led Local Development (CLLD) before March 2022.
Mairi Gougeon, rural affairs secretary, said: “I want to put rural and island communities in charge of making change happen in their local area. This Fund will help communities do just that, allowing them to be creative and test unproven but good ideas.
“We will be looking for projects that demonstrate how they will help make rural Scotland greener and fairer. Projects will also need to show how they will include people especially those who are harder to reach or who are remote from or less often involved in community activity
“The aim is to learn about what does and doesn’t work in rural communities and why, and we will use this information to influence future policy.”
Celia Tennant, Inspiring Scotland CEO, added: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the Scottish Government to deliver the Rural Communities Ideas into Action Fund which will support locally-driven social action in rural communities. This approach is central to Inspiring Scotland’s ethos, to encourage new ideas, to capture learning and to support, develop and connect communities. We look forward to supporting successful applicants to deliver the aims and ambitions of the fund.”
The fund will open for applications on Monday 13 September, and close on Friday 8 October at 12 noon. Full details will be made available on the Inspiring Scotland website when the application window opens.
Link to Fund information: www.inspiringscotland.org.uk/rural-communities-ideas-into-action-fund/
Original article at: www.scottishhousingnews.com/article/scottish-government-announces-1-5-million-funding-for-rural-community-groups
Thursday 23 September 2021, 11am (online, virtual)
This year for our AGM we're delving into the environmental and socio-economic benefits of the 20-Minute Neighbourhood concept, and what that looks like in practice, in rural Scotland. We'll be sharing a few of our developments, to help inspire other communities, looking particularly at developing rural circular economies.
We are extremely pleased to welcome our guest speakers:
The AGM is free and open to all, including non members. Community groups and development trusts are especially welcome. Please register to attend with the form below.
20 Years of 20-Minute Neighbourhoods in Scotland:
Circular economies in rural areas
11.15am 20-Minute Neighbourhood introduction: Stefanie O'Gorman, Ramboll UK
11.25am CHT approach and examples to 20-Minute Neighbourhoods
11.35am Gairloch case study: Janet Miles, MD of Gairloch & Loch Ewe Action Forum (GALE)
11.45am Keynote: Hamish Trench, Scottish Land Commission
11.55am Discussion: Q&A with audience (20-30mins)
12.15pm-ish Event end
The Old Sawmill development at Rothiemurchus near Aviemore has been selected as a finalist in the Rural Housing category of the Scottish Land & Estates Helping It Happen Awards.
The development is a collaboration between members of the local community, the Rothiemurchus Estate, and the Communities Housing Trust.
It provided a total of six self-build homes on Rothiemurchus land: four affordable plots for the local community that required no public subsidy, and two open-market plots, within the Cairngorms National Park.
The affordable self-build homes all have the Rural Housing Burden attached, a legal title condition which protects the property’s affordability in perpetuity and prioritises the local community in future sales, helping prevent holiday- and second-home ownership.
Aviemore is a highly desirable area, with challenges of land availability and planning, limited available housing stock, and even less affordable housing.
With an urgent need for new and fair middle-market opportunities and solutions, several local families formed a co-operative and approached Johnnie Grant of Rothiemurchus to tackle the issue, with the Communities Housing Trust brokering the unique cross-subsidy model to provide the plots.
The high-quality family homes use local and sustainable materials where possible, and embody the Rothiemurchus vernacular with larch cladding and tin roofing. The homes, each built to individual specifications, are highly energy-efficient and air-tight for environmental reasons and to reduce running costs, another aspect of affordable homes, with air-source heat pumps. There is also a 12-year tree-planting plan on the site.
The Old Sawmill development is the first project to benefit from the Dr & Mrs Steven Faulds Memorial Fund, which is dedicated to buying land, servicing plots and facilitating self-builds, and is administered by the Communities Housing Trust.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “We’re extremely grateful that this ‘no public subsidy’ model has been recognised by Scottish Land & Estates - it’s a win-win collaboration on estate land to secure affordable housing using self-build, within the Cairngorms National Park. We’ve supported four local families to build their own homes and remain in the area – which may not otherwise have been possible – while meeting the objectives of the Local Authority and Scottish Government, and we are very hopeful this development can be replicated in other areas where there are few affordable properties to rent or buy.”
Johnnie Grant of Rothiemurchus, said: “It took nearly ten years of investment and the determination of the members of the Old Sawmill co-operative and the Communities Housing Trust to make this happen – thank you to them. I have always wanted people to have a fair opportunity to bring up their families in the place they call home; I hope that selection for the final will provide the confidence and support for this solution to be repeated both here and elsewhere.”
Lesley McKenna, co-operative member and Old Sawmill resident, said: “We’re really aware how difficult it is as a local person working in this area to find a house and especially to build your own house, but we know it’s possible now. It wasn’t easy and it took a while! But it has worked, and it’s our wish that going through this unwieldy planning process can, and should, make it easier for local residents undertaking such ventures in the future.”
The winners of the Scottish Land & Estates Helping It Happen Awards will be announced in an online ceremony on 27 October 2021.
The Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA) is launching a survey to inform what housing is needed now and into the future.
In partnership with the Communities Housing Trust, MCHA is currently identifying possible sites for housing in the area. The survey results will help shape what housing is provided, led by the needs and aspirations of the community, and will help ensure future sustainability.
MCHA is particularly keen to retain younger people, families and those working in the area, and to provide suitable affordable homes for local people.
As well as current residents, MCHA would also like to hear from people wanting to return or re-locate to the area, and local businesses – including potential new businesses.
Graham Campbell, Chair of MCHA, said: “Housing is a significant issue for many rural communities, including Minginish, and as such a key priority for MCHA. We encourage all interested parties to complete the survey, so that the CHT can fully understand the demand and issues locally, and use this to identify solutions and inform funding bids. This is your opportunity to influence your future and our community's future.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are very pleased to be working with the Minginish community to understand their specific needs. We suspect demand is high here, and we now have increased opportunities with Scottish government policies on land reform, supporting rural housing and community empowerment.
“Community-led housing is often the best option in small, rural communities, as it can be tailored, providing a mix of tenures as well as a mix of house sizes, to give the greatest possible flexibility to residents.”
The surveys can be completed online before Sunday 26 September at: https://www.chtrust.co.uk/surveys.
Edinbane Community Company is purchasing three serviced sites at Coishletter, with support from the Scottish Land Fund.
The proposed plan for the community-owned sites is to provide six much-needed affordable homes in the centre of Edinbane village. The sites are to be purchased from Skye Luxury Lodges, whose adjoining private development is awaiting planning permission from the Highland Council.
The Communities Housing Trust (CHT) has been supporting the community with the land acquisition, and will continue to help facilitate the development process.
The community-led project was commended as exemplary by the Scottish Land Fund committee, as a partnership model with public and private stakeholders that could be replicated elsewhere in Scotland.
In Edinbane since 2015, the primary school roll had been declining faster than expected, with families leaving for towns like Portree and other centres, and the community recognised the need to sustain and grow the village.
In the summer of 2020, Edinbane Community Company (ECC) undertook a community survey which showed clear need and strong support for new homes for local residents. The next step will be to get more community feedback on the proposals later this year.
ECC is committed to providing new opportunities for the area, including future plans to provide a new community hub and shop.
ECC Chairman Alistair Danter said; “This is great news for the community who have been working for over three years to tackle the lack of affordable housing in Edinbane. We are immensely grateful to the Scottish Land Fund for its support of our community initiative, and we look forward to working with the private developer SLL to deliver six new affordable homes in 2023.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust: “There’s a really strong sense of community in Edinbane and we are delighted to support the community in the land purchase, with a partnership model that works for everyone. We’d like to thank the Scottish Land Fund and congratulate the community on all the hard work that’s been put in to get to this stage. Well done!”
Thursday 29 July
Join us for a short online event to hear about the need for affordable housing on an island - Colonsay - and how a community-led approach was the solution. We are working there with Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC) on a mixed development of housing and commercial units, crucial to the sustainability of island communities. The development was visited last week by Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & Islands (pictured above), who cut the first turf. Read more about the project here.
The event is free and open to all; please register below. You may also wish to join CHT as a member. Membership is free and open to any community council, community association or similar local community-based organisation. Join here.
11am: EGM (only CHT members may vote, but all are welcome to attend. The Notice and special resolution to be voted on can be viewed here.)
11.05am: Community-led housing in Colonsay: presentation by Colonsay Community Development Company
The Scottish Government has added another £2 million to the Self-Build Loan Fund, which supports self-builders unable to obtain mainstream self-build mortgage finance. The total Fund amount is now £6 million.
The news comes as £4 million has already been allocated in loans, for 28 self-builds across Scotland.
The Self-Build Loan Fund is administered on behalf of the Scottish Government by the Communities Housing Trust, an Inverness-based charity working closely with communities to provide affordable homes and community amenities.
Applications to the fund have also been extended for another year due to ongoing demand, and is open until 31 August 2022, with loans to be repaid by August 2023.
The Self-Build Loan Fund was established in 2018 to support those unable to obtain mainstream self-build mortgage finance. As banks became more cautious, it became more challenging for people to find funds to build their own home.
Housing Secretary Shona Robison said: “Self-provided housing can play an important role in supporting potentially fragile communities and smaller building firms, particularly in rural areas.
“That’s why we have allocated an additional £2 million to the Self-Build Loan Fund to support self-builders, who are unable to access mainstream lending, to complete their homes.
“We want to see more opportunities for self-provided housing, with increased capacity amongst households and industry to deliver these kinds of homes so that it becomes a mainstream option for increasing housing choice, affordability and supply.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “This is really important news for small, rural or remote communities across Scotland. We saw public interest in the Fund rise by 153% over 2020, as self-build is sometimes the only option to stay in your own community, whether young or old, where housing is limited and developers won’t build. Self-build is an important model, as a housing option, because it gives communities an opportunity to provide affordable choice, attract people, and become more sustainable.
“We’d like to thank the Scottish Government and are extremely pleased to see this crucial Fund extended and increased, so we can continue to support communities, families, elderly people, crofters and couples to build their own homes across Scotland, and in particular to maintain or re-populate rural areas.”
Homes are now complete or under construction in 11 Local Authority areas: Aberdeen-shire, Argyll & Bute, Ayrshire, Falkirk, Highland, Lanarkshire, Orkney, Perth & Kinross, Shetland, Stirling and the Western Isles.
The Loan Fund is expected to provide almost 50 new homes at a value of almost £16 million to the Scottish economy. It will support approximately 350 jobs in the construction industries - often small companies in remote, rural areas - something which is of great benefit in uncertain times.
Gary and Susan, Self-Build Loan Fund recipients on Mull, said: "The Self-Build Loan Fund provided vital bridging finance. Having the loan also meant that we could pursue the build quickly, within the limited construction window available due to the weather. Importantly for us, it meant we could talk confidently to local builders and contractors, with us and them secure in the knowledge that we could pay them, and that they would be paid on time.
"As with other islands and marginal communities, building on Mull carries a cost overhead for the supply and delivery of building materials. The Self-Build Loan Fund provides vital access to finance and knowledge, making the personal dream of home ownership available to local families, adding to the longer-term resident housing stock, and underpinning sustainable island communities.”
For more information about the Self-Build Loan Fund, and to apply, please visit: https://www.chtrust.co.uk/scotland-self-build-loan-fund.
Earlier this year, Applecross Community Company successfully secured surplus land from NHS Highland and started building community owned housing. The project received funding from the Scottish Land Fund, SSE Sustainable Development Fund and Rural & Islands Housing Fund to build 3 homes adjacent to the surgery.
CHT are project managing the development on behalf of ACC and look forward to the completion of the homes later this year. Older residents of Applecross will be given priority in allocations to the properties, although anyone in the community and further afield can apply.
For many years it has been difficult to locate a suitable site within the community to take forward a housing project. The site beside the surgery was identified by ACC and they led the initial discussions with the local NHS service providers. CHT helped to shape the project and supported ACC to develop the proposals. The Rural & Islands Housing Fund made it possible to take forward an affordable housing project, with ACC also investing from their local renewables project Applejuice http://www.applecrosshydro.scot/
The delivery of this project has paved the way for to ACC purchase 2 more areas of land in the community from the Applecross Trust. Watch this space for more exciting #communityledhousing #woodlandcrofts
We are very pleased to welcome Fraser Maclennan to the Development team in a new post, as a recent graduate from Edinburgh Napier University with a BSc in Construction and Project Management. We are keen to help train early-career graduates and Fraser will be a great addition to the team.
Originally from Inverness, he left home in 2017 to move to Edinburgh, seeking new opportunities to learn about a subject of interest to him. After studying for four fun years in Edinburgh, he decided to return home to Inverness.
In his spare time, he enjoys being active and playing many sports, including football, rugby, and even the occasional game of golf. He also enjoys travelling and going to festivals - something which has been missed dearly over the last year!
I am thrilled to be joining CHT and am very excited to apply the skills and experience I have gained to date whilst facing new challenges at CHT.
Do you want to live in a rural village in East Sutherland? The residents of Edderton in the Scottish Highlands are looking for families, couples and individuals to help reinvigorate their village which has experienced some population decline over the last few decades.
Within a short stroll from the renowned Dornoch Firth, good travel links through the nearby A9, a primary school and the home of Balblair Distillery, there are plenty of opportunities for new businesses and services to spring up. Edderton is also close to the town of Tain with its secondary school, railway station and other amenities.
Ewen Simpson, local resident and farmer: “We need young families, not just in Edderton, but across the Highlands… In Edderton in the 1970s, we had a post office, a shop, we even had petrol pumps outside the shop at one point, and the pub, all of which is gone now, which does take the heart out of a community. That will all change again, we’ll get there again.”
Local partnership Caledonia Forestry Ltd. has helped to facilitate and enable the project by gifting the land for community development.
The Communities Housing Trust (CHT), who work closely with communities across central and northern Scotland to provide affordable housing and other amenities, are currently conducting two Housing Needs Surveys with the support of Edderton Community Council. One survey is focused on current residents and people who live nearby, and one is for people who currently live out with the area who would like to move in.
The development will include 5-7 affordable homes of mixed tenures, including discounted self-build plots, and the surveys will help dictate what homes and tenures are required.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust: “With land available to build affordable homes, we now need to know who would like to live here and become a part of helping this village thrive again. It’s a rare and forward-thinking opportunity to repopulate a rural area, especially with increasing options for homeworking, new business start-ups and economic diversification.”
While the community are supportive of newcomers to Edderton to help make the village thrive again, the development will also cater for any existing local need from in and around the area.
Michael Brown, local resident and chair of the Edderton Community Council: “Young families and jobs are the life blood of a community. Like so many Highland villages, the Primary School has a falling role, and the local church is on the verge of closure. The Communities Housing Trust has thrown us a lifeline to our future. We have already worked with them on a recent housing project which is almost complete with the tenancy allocation awarded to two young families. We would like to welcome new people to our village, so this is great news for us, and we are so grateful to the CHT.”
If you’d like to be part of helping Edderton thrive into the future and could genuinely see yourself living in this rural village, or already live in the vicinity, please complete the Housing Needs Survey here: www.chtrust.co.uk/surveys. The survey closes on 13 June.
Planning permission has been granted for an initial phase of nine affordable homes on Colonsay, with more to follow, prioritising the need for long-term residential homes on the island.
The Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC) is working in partnership with the Communities Housing Trust (CHT) to provide a much-needed and community-led mixed development of affordable housing and business units. The business units received planning permission earlier this year.
There are currently only nine social housing units and only a handful of private rentals on the island. More than 40% of the housing stock on Colonsay is used as a holiday home or for self-catering holiday accommodation. Homes regularly sell - often unadvertised - for well-above the local and national average meaning that young people and families on low and middle incomes are priced out of the market. There is no shortage of people who would like to remain on Colonsay or move in. CCDC has already received more than 20 expressions of interest in this development.
In 2020, with CHT's support, CCDC purchased two plots of land with funds from the Scottish Land Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Argyll and Bute Council, and MOWI, who will fund the provision of houses for local workers. Further funding has been obtained through Inspiring Scotland, the £2m Islands Green Recovery Programme (Prògram Ath-Shlànachaidh Uaine nan Eilean), and the CCDC’s own very successful Crowdfunding campaign.
This initial phase of nine affordable homes at Scalasaig will be of mixed tenure, based on local need: affordable rent, low-cost home ownership, local worker and discounted self-build plots. A short distance away, two commercial business units will be built, as possible workshop and studio space.
Caitlin McNeill, Director, CCDC: "The future of our community rests upon affordable, accessible housing. Housing is the foundation of a person's security and a fundamental human right and, unfortunately, we know all too well the consequences when housing needs are not met.
“With the approval of the master plan, CCDC, together with the community and those to whom it matters most, will be able to continue to address the housing crisis on the island. We are extremely grateful to those who have supported and enabled us to reach this point."
John Forbes, Community-Led Housing Co-ordinator, Communities Housing Trust: “We are extremely pleased to be working with CCDC to support longer-term, working residents on Colonsay. Their dedication to this project and community is inspiring, and a positive example to other rural and island populations which may be struggling. Community-led projects can really make a world of difference to sustaining a community for generations to come.”
We are extremely delighted that our work with the communities of Gairloch is a finalist in the Best Regeneration Project category of the UK-wide Inside Housing Development Awards 2021.
Judging was apparently very tough this year, with a record 300 entries in total. Winners will be announced in November.
The Achtercairn development in Gairloch was a large-scale collaborative project with funding from the Scottish Government's Rural & Islands Housing Fund which provided 25 affordable homes (19 social rent and 6 low-cost home ownership, including Rent To Buy), managed by three housing providers; a tourist information hub with Gairloch and Lochewe Action Forum, Scotland's first public building to be awarded 'Passivhaus' status; a new shop and cafe which sells produce from over 40 local producers; a new classroom for the University of the Highlands & Islands; and a new training facility for the Air Training Corps.
Project partners included Gairloch and Loch Ewe Action Forum (GALE), the Farm & Garden Store, Gairloch Museum, Colin Armstrong Architects, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Albyn Housing Society, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, the Highland Council, VisitScotland, Air Training Corps, and Macleod & Mitchell Contractors, not to mention lots of local residents and interest groups.
Read more about the project and impacts on the village: https://www.chtrust.co.uk/gairloch.html
As the community-led mixed development in Tomintoul progresses, we thought it would be good to share a quick update with you all.
Watch the short video above for an overview, and update on site progress. It's great to see the project coming along, particularly in a National Park and the extra challenges this brings.
Tomintoul is a village in Moray, within the Cairngorms National Park. Attractive with tourists, it has a high prevalence of second homes, and lack of available long-term housing.
We worked with the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust to undertake community consultation on housing need, which clearly showed that there was a demand for good quality affordable housing within the community.
It was also clear from responses that the lack of housing was a barrier to families remaining, and new families moving in, which was having a negative effect on local businesses, community groups, and the school rolls.
The former secondary school building, derelict for over 20 years and an eyesore in the village, was identified as a potential site for development. We supported TGDT to acquire the site, which was passed into community ownership in November 2020, with funding from the Scottish Land Fund.
With support from Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE), the school building was demolished in early 2021, and construction will begin in spring.
We continue to provide development support for the construction of 12 affordable homes, including several live/work units. The homes, of differing sizes, are designed around a shared social space, to address social isolation and build community spirit.
With TGDT, we continue to monitor the range of tenures required, which could include low-cost home ownership, and a range of affordable rents. With the live/work units too, this flexibility will help cater for a range of needs and help ensure long-term sustainability.
It is hoped that the development will help increase the school roll, and ensure the longevity of the village well into the future.
Read about more community-led projects we're working on here.
To discuss what your own community requires, feel free to contact us for an informal chat.
Construction began last week on two new community-led affordable houses to rent in Cannich. The project has been driven by Strathglass & Affric Community Company, who were keen to see an empty building put to better use, for the good of the local community.
NHS Highland, who owned the nurses’s house, transferred it to the Community Company under the Community Asset Transfer scheme. The land transfer was completed in February 2021 with funding from the Scottish Land Fund.
The new houses will meet a need for high-quality, affordable accommodation within the local area. The project is being led by Strathglass & Affric Company Company, with project management and development support from the Communities Housing Trust, and funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Island Housing Fund, Quaker Housing Trust, Highland Council, SSE Developing Communities Fund, Soirbheas, and the Strathglass Community Fund. The houses will continue to be offered at affordable rents for future generations, and will employ local contractors MC Builders during the build process.
The doctor’s surgery, which was previously housed in the extension to the nurse’s house, moved into fit-for-purpose premises within the renovated Community Hall six years ago. The Hall is owned and managed by Strathglass & Affric Community Company and is a hub for Cannich residents and visitors alike.
Alan Hood, Chair, Strathglass & Affric Community Company, who has worked tirelessly to develop the project: “The new 2 and 3 bedroomed homes will be owned by the Strathglass and Affric Community Company on behalf of the people of Strathglass and the houses will be offered at affordable rent for many generations to come helping people to stay in and contribute to our fantastic Community. We hope we will be able to retain families in the area, which will also help keep the school going. It’s been a real joint effort with so many organisations and funders pitching in, it’s been great and we look forward to seeing how the build progresses!”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust: “Small community-led developments such as this one can be absolutely crucial to sustaining rural communities – sometimes it’s the only option. A few houses combined with work opportunities and services can help keep a community alive, with wider social and economic benefits brought to the area. We’d like to congratulate Strathglass & Affric Community Community and are extremely glad to be supporting them in building these new affordable homes.”
Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s Director of Public Health: “Affordable good quality housing is a vital asset for all communities, and it is a significant factor in improvement in health and wellbeing. We are delighted about the work undertaken to transfer the ownership of the property.”
Completion is anticipated in Autumn 2021. Expressions of interest in the homes can be made with the Communities Housing Trust: https://www.chtrust.co.uk/future-opportunities.html
The Self-Build Loan Fund provided by the Scottish Government and administered by the Communities Housing Trust has been extended for another year, and will now accept applications until August 2022.
As banks became more cautious, it became more challenging for people to find funds to build their own home. The Self-Build Loan Fund of £4 million was established in 2018 to support those unable to obtain mainstream self-build mortgage finance.
Scottish Ministers have extended the Fund for a further year, recognising the national slowdown brought about by the Covid pandemic and lockdowns, as well as ongoing need and increasing demand. The new application deadline is 31 August 2022, with loans to be repaid by August 2023.
Neil Walker, Self-Build Loan Fund Officer, Communities Housing Trust: “We saw public interest in the scheme rise by 153% over 2020. We are ‘recycling’ repaid loans to finance additional builds, and are delighted that the 35 families and individuals we are already supporting will increase significantly by the time the Fund closes.”
Homes are now complete or under construction in 10 Local Authority areas: Aberdeen-shire, Argyll & Bute, Highland, Perth & Kinross, Lanarkshire, Western Isles, Orkney, Ayrshire, Falkirk and Stirling.
The Loan Fund is expected to provide almost 50 new homes at a value of almost £16 million to the Scottish economy. It will support approximately 350 jobs in the construction industries - often small companies in remote, rural areas - something which is of great benefit in uncertain times.
Gary and Susan, Self-Build Loan Fund recipients on Mull: "The Self-Build Loan Fund provided vital bridging finance. Having the loan also meant that we could pursue the build quickly, within the limited construction window available due to the weather. Importantly for us, it meant we could talk confidently to local builders and contractors, with us and them secure in the knowledge that we could pay them, and that they would be paid on time.
"As with other islands and marginal communities, building on Mull carries a cost overhead for the supply and delivery of building materials. The SBLF provides vital access to finance and knowledge, making the personal dream of home ownership available to local families, adding to the longer-term resident housing stock, and underpinning sustainable island communities.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust: “This is really important for small, rural or remote communities across Scotland. Self-build is sometimes the only option to stay in your own community, whether young or old, where housing is limited and developers won’t build. We’d like to thank the Scottish Government and are extremely pleased to see this Fund extended, so we can continue to support families, elderly people, crofters and couples to build their own homes across Scotland, and help strengthen their communities.”
For more information about the Self-Build Loan Fund, and to apply, please visit: https://www.chtrust.co.uk/scotland-self-build-loan-fund.html.
The Assynt Development Trust has bought 55 acres of former glebe land from the Church of Scotland, with support from the Scottish Land Fund.
The purchase, which was finalised at the end of March, marks the next step of a 15-year community-led search to find suitable land for building much-needed affordable homes for the local community, as well as other facilities.
With the land now in community ownership, the Assynt Development Trust is hoping the site will deliver multiple benefits to the community, and plan to hold further consultations in the local area once Covid restrictions are eased.
The site, situated on the road towards Glencanisp Lodge, was identified after a thorough process of surveys, housing need evaluations, and careful thought and planning.
Initial ideas for the site are being explored, to potentially include affordable homes, an all-abilities path network, commercial work units, and education and training facilities. The Communities Housing Trust supported the community with the land acquisition, and will continue to help facilitate the development process.
Willie Jack, Chair of Assynt Development Trust: “We are really pleased that the land purchase has now gone through, and we can now begin to address some of the issues facing our community, such as the need for affordable homes for Assynt residents. We are very keen that people have a chance to pitch their ideas in, for what they need and want in Lochinver. As everything is still at an early stage, and with the site secured, we can work on developing the site into what local people want for it, now and into the future.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust: “This is an exciting opportunity to provide not just affordable housing, but wider social and economic community benefits too. This community-led, mixed development model is often so much more suited to smaller, more rural communities and we are extremely pleased to continue working with the Trust and the wider community to further develop the site. We’d like to thank the Scottish Land Trust and congratulate the community on the buyout, and recognise all the hard work that’s been put in to get to this stage. Well done!”
CHT is happy to welcome two new members of staff, Sarah Hobbs and Rob Humphrey.
Sarah joined in December 2020 as Marketing and Communications Assistant, supporting CHT and the communities we work with to share their experiences, and the ongoing need for and impact of our work.
She has a background in practical social justice, and working with underserved and underrepresented groups to address systemic social inequality. For the past five years she has worked in marketing roles for small charities and social enterprises, and enjoys finding ways to tell stories, also running a guided Storywalk business. She has previously run educational expeditions, worked in the arts, and been a reindeer herder, which is what brought her to the Highlands.
At CHT, you realise very quickly that it's about more than 'just' housing. It's shining a light onto mainstream housing market and planning issues that aren't working for rural communities, which CHT addresses at a practical level by working directly with communities, and also a policy level.
Rob joined CHT in March as a Construction Development Officer, working in the Development team to take communities' plans through the development and build stages.
He has worked in the construction industry in the north of Scotland since 2014, gaining an HND in Construction Management and qualifying as a Certified PassiveHouse Tradesperson. With Carbon Dynamic and later Makar Natural Construction, he worked on various projects across rural and island communities, all involving ecologically and environmentally driven off-site construction methods. He also has insight and experience in rural agricultural communities through helping to run a croft in Sutherland, which has provided real-life lessons on crofting’s vast cultural and historical importance.
I am delighted to join the Communities Housing Trust! It's great to join an organisation which is making a huge difference in remote areas, and brilliant to work in a construction-sector linked environment that isn’t so male dominated.
CHT is working in partnership with the Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC) to provide a much-needed and community-led mixed development of affordable housing and business units.
The island is remote, with a small population of 130 people and a worrying lack of young people. This is due in part to a lack of affordable housing, as more than 40% of the island's houses are holiday/second homes, resulting in houses rarely becoming available for sale and often priced above the means of the local people when they do. This year, the primary school roll will drop from eight to four children. This is an island at breaking point, and desperately wanting to sustain a thriving community.
In 2020, with CHT's support, CCDC purchased two plots of land with funds from the Scottish Land Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Argyll and Bute Council and MOWI.
The community-led project has now received a grant of £96,000 from Inspiring Scotland "to develop housing and support the electricity supply." It is one of 12 initial projects selected to benefit from the £2m Islands Green Recovery Programme (Prògram Ath-Shlànachaidh Uaine nan Eilean) under the 'Communities' strand, supporting projects that contribute to green recovery, reduce carbon emissions as well as improve the resilience, health and wellbeing for Island communities.
The initial phase of 12 affordable homes at Scalasaig will be of mixed tenure: affordable rent, low-cost home ownership, local worker and discounted self build plots. A short distance away, two commercial business units will be built, as possible workshop and studio space.
CCDC and the community of Colonsay are currently Crowdfunding £25,000 to help develop these affordable homes. Watch their wee video here, and donate any spare pennies you may have! They will be very gratefully received.
The Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance on moving home (31 March 2020), urged people to delay moving to a new home whilst stay-at-home measures were in place, and at the moment, these restrictions still remain in force. However, despite the restrictions for house moves being in place, the Scottish Government recognised that there were situations were housing providers would have to offer, and allow people to move, homes – this being where people were at risk of being homeless and had no other option but to move out of their current accommodation.
CHT are pleased that we have been able to successfully move three households that fell into this category, into their new homes last month. We were able to offer two homes for rent and one for sale. Of course, our main priority in facilitating these moves was to ensure that these new householders were able to move in a safe environment which complied with all social distancing and hygiene regulations. We ensured that all the relevant information was provided to the householders, our contractors and the staff who were involved in the house moves, to minimise the risk to all involved.
CHT await the announcement that Phase 2 of the Scottish Government route map will be implemented which will allow for the further lifting of some restrictions. This includes certain activities in connection with the sale or letting of properties. If some of these restrictions are lifted, we anticipate enabling new tenancies and sales across all of our stock. We review the latest advice from The Scottish Government daily and will provide further guidance as and when changes are announced.
The country may be on lockdown, but the HSCHT team are still pushing on with developing our projects so we can hit the ground running when life returns to normal!
One example of a project which is nearly ready to go is the redevelopment of the old Tomintoul secondary school which the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust would like to transform from a derelict eyesore in the centre of a community reliant on tourist trade, in to an attractive but also much-needed affordable housing development.
TGDT identified need for housing through community events and when site became available they engaged HSCHT as a specialist in supporting rural communities to develop affordable housing.
HSCHT (with TGDT) undertook:
Tenders will be received by late spring and all going well we could see site works commence later in the year with completion in summer 2021.
Aidan Suttie joined the team in March 2019 to begin his Workplace Diploma in Digital Application Support after leaving sixth year at Culloden Academy. Aidan, who is still only 18, has become a valued member of the team. he said:
“Russell has helped guide me through the Apprenticeship and thanks to QA they have allowed me to gain a qualification and a job at the end of it. I am delighted to be a part of the team at HSCHT, they have made me feel welcome and have helped to educate me further in my progression. I would like to thank HSCHT, QA, and Russell for helping me gain a Diploma in Digital Applications Support”.
Aidan was awarded his certificate by Russell McKay, Senior Technical Skills Coach with QA, who has mentored Aidan throughout his apprenticeship. Russell said:
“It has been a great pleasure to coach this young, inspirational Apprentice, and to be part of Aidan’s journey through to achievement in Digital Application Support within a great company, HSCHT”.
Aidan has been a great support to the team and will stay on in a permanent role providing IT and Digital Support. CEO, Ronnie MacRae congratulated Aidan after his presentation:
“We’re delighted to have Aidan as part of our team and for HSCHT to support the Modern Apprenticeship scheme, keeping young talent in our area and helping the Highland economy.”
The scheme, which is part- funded by Skills Development Scotland, allows young people to earn a wage whilst gaining a range of industry-recognised qualifications. More information about the initiative can be found on the SDS website here: https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/apprenticeships/modern-apprenticeships/
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.