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!)
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
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.
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
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
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 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 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.
In our first blog of the year, we take a look at some of the funding opportunities that are currently available to community-led housing projects. At the moment there are a number of great innovative funding mechanisms out there which HSCHT believe can really benefit communities around the country.
A) Private Finance
There are various proivate organisations out there - whether they be banks, energy companies, or other organisations, who are looking to invest in a community that they already operate within. These organisations have a selection of funding schemes available for communities to use in an attempt to improve life in the local area by developing sustainable projects.
Quite often to be able to successfully apply for finance from a private organisation you'll have to demonstrate that you're proposed development, whether it be new build or renovation, would indeed be a benefit to the community. One way this could be shown is by providing homes for key workers, or providing homes for young families who are trying to stay in/move back to the area. Such projects provide social and economic benefit to the community, by increasing the number of skilled people within an area, while also contributing to the school role and local businesses.
HSCHT have worked with such organisation in the past, and are happy to offer our advice. If you would like more information on some of the private finance routes available, please get in touch via email@example.com.
Another way to generate funding for a community-led project is to seek partners from within the community who stand to benefit from the increase in new housing. Quite often these partners could be local businesses looking for somewhere to house their essential staff. if this is the case, then it may be possible for them to contribute to the funding of the project.
Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, communities may partner with a local housing association. If a community group partnered with a Housing Association, this could perhaps provide management services, or they may act as a development partner, taking a considerable burden off the community group.
This is an area in which HSCHT has much experience in, having being able to assist in building partnerships in the past between local community organisations/trusts and businesses that operate within the local area. Most recently we have facilitated such a relationship on the Isle of Rum, which will hopefully provide additional housing units for the local community trust, as well as a company who are requiring homes for their employees on the island.
C) Public Funding
The Scottish Government has recently introduced several new funding schemes to assist in the development of affordable housing throughout the country. The Scottish Land Fund, The Rural Housing Fund, and The Empty Homes Fund are 3 such funds that can be utilised to great effect by rural communities seeking to develop their own housing units.
- Scottish Land Fund
The Scottish Land Fund supports both rural and urban communities to become more self-reliant and sustainable through the ownership and management of land and land assets.
Funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Land Fund offers grants of up to £1 million to help communities take ownership of the land and the buildings that are important to the growth of their community. It also provides practical support to these communities, in an attempt to develop their ambitions into achievable projects.
The Scottish Land Fund is available to organisations in both urban and rural Scotland. As long as these are community-led, community controlled and have a defined geographic area.
HSCHT have also supported community groups in their applications to this fund. Including recently the purchase of land in Strontian by the Strontian Community School Building Ltd, who are embarking on building Scotland's first community owned Primary School. The plan is to convert this building into affordable housing in the future, should the Primary School move into the existing High School building. For more information on this project, see: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-38303561
For more information on The Scottish Land Fund visit:
- Rural Housing Fund
The Rural housing Fund, which was only launched in 2016, is a £25million fund that will provide an estimated 500 new affordable homes in rural areas around Scotland.
The Rural Housing Fund will increase supply of long-term affordable housing to rural areas during the next three years, by assisting the building of new homes and refurbishment of existing buildings. These new homes will add to the Scottish Government’s commitment to build another 50,000 new homes throughout Scotland over the next five years.
The fund is open to a wide range of applicants, including long-established affordable housing providers, and also community-led organisations and private landowners, allowing them to take a more active role in meeting the housing needs of their local community.
In addition to providing support toward the capital costs of housing projects, the fund will offer much needed feasibility support to enable organisations to develop robust plans for their projects.
This is a fund that HSCHT have experience with, having assisted several community organisations with successfully applying for it. This has varied from giving initial advice, to undertaking the whole application process on behalf of the community group.
For more information on The Rural Housing Fund please visit:
- Empty Homes Fund (administered by Highland Council)
If a community group are planning on renovating an empty home in the local area, then The Scottish Government have said that they are keen to encourage the owners of such empty homes to return them to use as affordable housing. To kick-off empty homes work across Scotland, the Scottish Government has made up to £4 million available in the form of an Empty Homes Loan Fund. Having seen the pressures facing housing in rural areas, £2 million of the fund has being designated for refurbishments of empty homes in rural areas.
The fund aims to support a range of projects to bring empty homes back into use as affordable housing.
Of the £4 million that the Scottish Government has set aside for this fund, £400,000 has been given to the Highland Council to administer with the aim of renovating 30 units in the Highlands. The Council has matched the £400,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Empty Homes Loan Fund with £400,000 from its Private Sector Housing Grant to promote the initiative.
All of the funding will be provided as loans, however interest will not apply. Successful applicants have to repay at least 60% of the funding by 2019/20 and are expected to repay the remaining portion of the loan by 2023/24 at the latest.
HSCHT have experience applying for this fund, as we have previously done so on behalf of Coigach Community Development Company for their renovation of the Achiltibuie School House. Laggan Community Trading Company have also received funding from Highland Council to renovate an empty property in Strathmashie. To learn more about this project, click HERE.
For more information on The Empty Homes Loan Fund please visit:
D) Community Share Options for Housing
The final funding mechanism for community led housing that will be examined in this blog is community shares.
When using this funding mechanism, members of the community are offered shares as a means of raising the level of funding needed for the development. There are restrictions on the withdrawals to ensure the safety of the fund gathered for the community organisation would be necessary to protect the stability of the organisation until other funds were built up from excess income in order to buy back the shares. A payment on the shares would be payable from rental revenues.
As a result of employing this form of funding; the organisation may have to make amendments to its current Memorandum and Articles of Association. This option also has the potential to enable the community to buy-in to the project as well as provide the required funds to pay for the project. By swapping the bank borrowing at both the development and after completion with a community share issue then the interest payable on loans is replaced by dividends payable to the shareholders.
To summarise, there are a number of different ways that communities can secure the funding needed in order to increase the housing provision within their area. Funding can be generated in many forms, from the likes of public funding, private funding, community shares, and partnering.
HSCHT is always trying to help communities determine which route works best for them. For further information, please feel free to get in touch to discuss with us on 01463 233549, or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust has had previous experience with renovating empty properties in order to provide great affordable accommodation to local families and individuals in rural communities. For this reason, Laggan Community Trading Company contacted HSCHT for their assistance with the project. HSCHT managed the project, from sending out the original tender documentation and assessing submissions, right up until the property was ready for a new individual or family to move in.
Leasing The Property -
An agreement was put in place between Laggan Community Trading Company and the Highland Council, which stated that upon completion of the renovation, Highland Council would manage and let the property.
Funding The Project -
Although LCTC had some reserves to put towards the renovation project, the majority of the works was funded by Highland Council, who provided a £15,000 grant, and a £15,000 loan. The loan is interest-free, and allows for a total of 5 years before it has to be repaid. This £30,000 contributed massively to the overall renovation costs.
Both the grant and loan were able to be drawn-down at various stages throughout the project. Another large benefit to making the project viable, was that due to the property being empty for over 2 years, only 5% VAT was to be charged on any works, as opposed to 20%. This proved to provide a massive reduction in the overall cost of the project.
The Tendering Process -
It was important to the project to use local contractors. For this reason HSCHT contacted a number of local contractors within the area to gauge who may be interested We then issued the tender documentation, before assessing and deciding on a small local contractor who would undertake the whole project along with his chosen subcontractors.
The Renovation -
There was a vast amount of work carried out on the property during its renovation. This included everything from massively increasing the thermal mass through additional
wall and roof insulation, to complete redecoration, relining, painting and decorating and re-dressing of internal doors. Old brick cupboards were demolished, including the removal of asbestos, and a completely new kitchen was installed. Plumbing work and a complete re-wire of the property also took place. New lighting fixtures, extractor fans, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors were installed too.
A large part of the renovation was the installing of completely new roof sarking, felt and slates.
In order to increase energy efficiency of the property, new high performance uPVC double glazed windows were put in the upstairs bedroom, which previously did not have escape windows that met building standards. New storage heaters were installed throughout the property, and a woodburning stove, hearth and metal chimney liner were put in place.
Externally, repair work was done to the chimney, new rainwater goods were introduced, a coal bunker was demolished, and the whole render and external woodwork was painted.
Towards the completion of the renovation, Highland Council inspected the property to ensure that it was up to their standard, which highlighted a few snagging issues which were not considered originally. The project was completed in the spring of 2016 and is now managed and let by the Highland Council to a young local family. HSCHT monitored the project throughout the process, and Laggan Community Trading Company were incredibly pleased with the final outcome.
This is another great example, of how small community led groups, the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust, and local and statutory authorities such as the Highland Council can work together to turn empty properties into great affordable family homes, in areas where accommodation options are few.
In rural communities around the Highlands such as Strathmashie, people are increasingly being forced to leave their families, jobs and friends behind in search of a suitable home. In this particular case, making an affordable home available to a young family with two children, provides many benefits to the surrounding community, including increasing the local school roll.
On 21st of April 2015, MSP Margaret Burgess, the Scottish Governments Housing Minister visited projects we have been involved with in both Dornoch and Helmsdale.
In her visit to the town of Dornoch, a place where HSCHT has developed many new homes recently. In the past 12 months, we have completed 6 new homes in the area. The first two properties in Dornoch were built through our first phase of Rent To Buy properties, working with local contractor J & S Gunn. Both are now occupied, with 2 families now been given the opportunity to own their own home after renting the property for 5 years before purchasing at a reduced, below-market price. This is made possible by the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden to the property.
Since 2013, the Scottish Government has issued over £7 million to our Rural Rent to Buy scheme, as we continue to develop affordable housing throughout the Highlands.
Right next door to these properties are two new homes developed for the Highland Council through the Greener Homes Initiative. These properties have recently been completed very recently this year and have already been allocated to residents who have now moved into the properties. The Minister got the chance to not only meet these residents, but also view the inside of the homes.
Rent to Buy and Greener Homes projects are being developed across the Highlands thanks to an innovative partnership between Scottish Government, Highland Council and HSCHT. The various schemes that have been developed through funding from the Scottish Government, have not only provided the Dornoch with new varying types of affordable housing solutions, but has also allowed for new members of the community to get on the housing ladder.
Margaret Burgess then went on to visit our brand new homes built by Pat Munro Homes through the Rent To Buy Scheme. Completed at the very end of last year, the two semi-detached properties are now home to very happy residents who are now on their way to owning their own home. Located in the new Deans Park development in Dornoch, one of our Tenants, was happy to greet the Minister and welcome her into her home.
The Minister then travelled north to visit the community of Helmsdale to view their community owned housing project. Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT) is spearheading a new community led housing development having built four new homes in the Highland village of Helmsdale, backed by £110,000 of Scottish Government investment. During her visit to Helmsdale, the Housing Minister Margaret Burgess met with new tenants of these properties, the local development trust and many children from the local primary school.
This innovative project is being driven by the community in order to provide community owned housing to ensure the future sustainability of the area. All statutory housing provision in the last 30 years has been provided in neighbouring villages, which has been detrimental and has led to out-migration from the community. Helmsdale went 35 years without any new affordable housing being made available for rent, and held a desire to solve this, as well as the aging demographic of the village.
HSCHT helped with this project in a number of ways. This included community engagement and facilitation, a local survey, initial project feasibility ans desktop funding options, negotiations with landowners and the local authority and the initial fundraising – a key challenge for the community in order to obtain the vision for this new project.
By partnering the Local Authority, local RSL along with guidance from HSCHT, Helmsdale community were able to deliver a feasible and practical solution to meet their longer term housing needs – four brand new rented homes to be managed by Albyn Housing Association using policies agreed with the Highland Council.
Helmsdale is part of the Growth at the Edge initiative by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. A local development officer consulted with the community through a series of open days and has produced a document “Shaping our future together”. In this housing features as a high priority for local people. Creating new community housing here will help make the community more sustainable:
There are a range of other benefits this project created including:
The day was a great success, and was seemingly enjoyed by all. Not only did Margaret Burgess perform the official opening ceremony of the Helmsdale & District Community Owned Housing Project, acknowledging the great success and work of the community, but it also allowed HSCHT to showcase the work we do throughout the Highlands.
If you would like any more information on these or any other projects we have worked on, please get in touch at email@example.com.
Alternatively, should you be interested in how we can help you or your community, call us on 01463 233549.
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.