Glendale welcomed local MSP Kate Forbes last week, as she visited the community-led renovation of Borrodale school and schoolhouse. Historic Environment Scotland and Crown Estate Scotland recently awarded grants to further develop the buildings into much-needed affordable housing.
The project to restore and convert the derelict buildings into 5-6 affordable homes is led by the Glendale Trust and supported by various partners including the Communities Housing Trust, Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association, HIE, University of the Highlands & Islands, and Zero Waste Scotland.
Ms Forbes visited the site to understand firsthand how the innovative approach to retrofitting the buildings for the climate crisis will also provide benefits and opportunities for the local community.
The project aims to minimise waste, reuse and recycle materials, and support and encourage local rural trades.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “Housing is probably one of the most frequently raised issues with me, showing how important it is, and as the constituency MSP for Skye I am well aware of the pressures locally.
“If we want families, and especially our young people, to remain on the island then it is absolutely critical that they have access to warm, safe and affordable homes.
“Against that backdrop, I was delighted to visit Borrodale School and meet with representatives of both the Glendale Trust and Communities Housing Trust.
“They are to be congratulated for their joint initiative and I look forward to these plans becoming a reality.”
In March, the project received a grant of £30,000 from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to deliver traditional masonry and lime render work to stop the building deteriorating further and to dry it out in preparation for renovation.
HES are supporting the refurbishment and conversion of Borrodale School and Schoolhouse, particularly the climate change adaptations using traditional materials and new energy efficiency measures needed in a retrofit of an older building.
Roger Curtis, Technical Research Manager at Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said: “We’re pleased to be able to support this project to provide much needed additional housing stock through the retrofit of these buildings. The school and its schoolhouse played a key role in the community and through this project will create a new chapter in their story as well as contributing to the community and our broader aims of helping demonstrate thermal upgrade to older buildings as well as providing greener housing through the reuse and retrofit of existing building stock.”
A further Community Capacity grant of £20,000 from Crown Estate Scotland, delivered in partnership with Foundation Scotland, will help develop the plans for the fuel-efficient homes.
The Borrodale project will act as a blueprint for community renovations to address repopulation, skills development in rural areas, reuse and recycling of materials, environmental concerns, and economic growth and opportunities.
The Glendale Trust purchased the school in 2014 with funding support from the Scottish Land Fund. Further funding for the renovation and conversion plans has been given by the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Rural Communities Into Action Fund delivered by Inspiring Scotland, and HIE.
There are over 43,000 long-term empty homes across Scotland, and an urgent need for affordable housing. The renovation will focus on transforming an eyesore into an asset, providing housing for the local community as well as supporting economic growth of the region.
It is expected that the development will provide a mix of affordable tenures based on demand, such as social rent equivalent, mid-market rent, low-cost home ownership, or housing for keyworkers.
This mix allows more flexibility for a small community, allowing for differing financial capabilities and changing circumstances.
Clare Gray, Chair of The Glendale Trust said: “We are delighted that Historic Environment Scotland appreciate the value of the buildings and have granted us the funds to repair the stonework and the roof in readiness for the refurbishment. This will give the building a new lease of life and bring affordable homes to Glendale.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are delighted to have the support of Historic Environment Scotland and Crown Estate Scotland on this project. They both recognise the importance not just of the buildings, but what the buildings could mean to the future of Glendale, and the wider community. It will be an example of community-led, climate-friendly restoration which communities across the country can replicate and use to boost local skills and support a circular economy. We were very pleased to share these plans with Kate Forbes.”
THE LIGHTS are now burning brightly in Staffin as six families have moved into their new homes.
The three-bedroom houses are now fully occupied by the new residents of the Taighean a’ Chaiseil development in Stenscholl.
It is the first affordable housing development in the Taobh Sear since 1999 and was led by Staffin Community Trust in response to the falling population and primary school roll and spiralling house prices, which made it difficult for families to compete.
The site, close to the Kilmartin River and a short walking distance from Bun Sgoil Stafainn, was sold by the Stenscholl crofting township and Scottish Ministers to SCT in 2020.
SCT and its partners, the Communities Housing Trust (CHT) and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association (LSHA), delivered the £1.6 million project which includes a new health centre and business premises.
Around 12 adults and eight children have moved into the new homes. Staffin’s population had reduced by 40 people (6.6 per cent) from 610 residents to 568 people in just four years, prior to SCT starting the project feasibility back in 2014.
SCT director Donald MacDonald said: “It is great to see this project moving towards completion after many years of hard work by the trust. Unfortunately, this project does not address the underlying issues, faced by many young people and families, in relation to spiralling property costs, lack of affordable housing and general investment in rural communities. We are grateful for the help we have received from public agencies and The Scottish Government but there is a need to find easier and more effective ways to help those most in need and allow communities to control to have a stronger say in the process.
New Taighean a’ Chaiseil resident Paul Young said: “We’re happy that the children are in safe walking distance to school. It’s nice that these houses have been built together in Staffin, it's in the perfect location for families, giving the children more independence with being able to walk to school and play with their friends. The houses are very cosy and enjoy an amazing view. We are looking forward to making our house our home.”
Another new resident Karen Hutchison added: “I love the wee community feeling between all the residents. It’s so lovely seeing all the kids popping into each other’s’ houses, outside playing and walking to school together.”
Scottish Government grant funding was crucial with support from the Land Fund enabling the site to be transferred to community ownership, and the Rural and Islands Housing Fund a key contributor to the capital package.
Housing secretary Shona Robison MSP said: “Good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in our remote and rural communities. The Scottish Government provided over £650,000 through our Rural and Islands Housing Fund and mainstream Affordable Housing Supply Programme which made it possible for the community to take on this ambitious project and deliver six affordable homes.
“The Rural and Islands Housing Fund has been described as a ‘game changer’ for community-led housing development, increasing the supply of affordable housing. Taken together with our Affordable Housing Supply Programme, more than 6,000 affordable homes in rural and island communities have been delivered between 2016-17 and 2020/21.”
Skye architects Rural Design worked on the project which was constructed by island firm, James MacQueen Building Contractors Ltd.
The new community-owned health centre and business premises are due to be tenanted in March and April by NHS Highland and the local aquaculture company, Organic Sea Harvest, respectively.
Key funders also included LEADER, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the SSE Sustainable Development Fund, the Ecology Building Society, the Quaker Housing Trust and a crowdfunding campaign, plus a guarantor loan from Highland Council.
The homes are a mix of affordable rent, managed by LSHA and SCT, and discounted sale, managed by CHT, where the affordability is protected in perpetuity for the local community through the Rural Housing Burden. People with connections to the area were prioritised as a way to promote the ongoing sustainability of rural communities.
SCT will use the rental income from the properties to manage and maintain the new development. It is hoped to organise a formal opening event in early summer.
Ronnie MacRae, CHT chief executive, said: “CHT are delighted to have been able to support this community-led project from beginning to end, developing the concept of mixed use, mixed partner site including the innovative business plan and helping to acquire the land. Congratulations to SCT who have delivered this mixed development of homes and amenities that will enable a stronger more resilient Staffin and provide a template and confidence for many other similar communities to follow. Key to success was the support of Scottish Government and Highland Council amongst others who recognised the need to provide a range of affordable housing tenures, for flexibility and choice, alongside working with HIE and the NHS to provide essential amenities that will improve social and economic opportunities going forward.”
Dr Audrey Sinclair, LSHA chair said: “I wish to congratulate Staffin Community Trust and all their partners involved in this unique mixed use and tenure development. SCT rose admirably to the many challenges from inception to completion of this project and the housing association is so pleased to have played a part in assisting SCT achieve their vision.”
The new development was designed to complement the landscape with Rural Design’s Alan Dickson mindful of the National Scenic Area designation which blankets Staffin. It includes significant stonework with walls and a gable end feature and the use of timber and traditional slated roofs.
Mr Dickson said: “It’s fantastic to see families moving in. It has been quite a journey for the Staffin Community Trust and their partners to achieve this, and shows what can happen when a group comes together, and doesn’t take no for an answer. We are so pleased to have been able to help and demonstrate that new housing can be part of our areas of outstanding natural beauty. Hopefully this can now encourage other rural communities to do the same.”
James MacQueen, of James MacQueen Building Contractors Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have worked on such an important local housing, health and business project in north Skye that supports and encourages community sustainability and growth.
"The first new affordable housing development in Staffin for 23 years, achieved through the dedication of the Staffin Community Trust supported by Communities Housing Trust, Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association and project funders - it demonstrates what can be achieved when we collaborate and work together. We are immensely proud to be involved in delivering the much-needed affordable housing, creating homes for future generations and reinvigorating the local community. We wish the new Taighean a’ Chaiseil residents all the very best in their new homes.”
The community-led development of five homes and five self-build plots was granted full planning permission in January.
Raasay Development Trust (RDT) is leading the project in the main village of Inverarish with support from the Communities Housing Trust (CHT).
The development will include two homes for social rent with Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association, and three community-owned homes for affordable rent with RDT. There will also be five affordable self-build plots, two with RDT and three with CHT. All the plots will be discounted through the Rural Housing Burden, which assures affordability in perpetuity for the local community.
Raasay has seen an increase of demand for affordable housing. A recent review of the Highland Housing Registers demand and supply tool indicated that at least 32 people are on the waiting list with Raasay as a preferred choice. These new and much-needed homes will prioritise people with a link or need to live on the island.
The land was purchased by RDT from North Raasay Sheep Stock Club, with funding from the Scottish Land Fund, and with CHT’s support.
Further key funding has been obtained from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, and the Ecology Building Society.
Skye-based James MacQueen Building Contractors have been appointed, and it is hoped the work will start on site in spring.
Chair of Raasay Development Trust, Iain Hector Ross said: "Raasay has a clear and present need for new affordable housing stock to meet the growing demand from young islanders choosing to stay and others wanting to move to the island for increasing work opportunities. We are fortunate that the island is enjoying an era of growing economic confidence and opportunity, where young people now see a long-term future for themselves here. Quality housing is vital to support that future and we hope that the delivery of these new homes is just the first step towards providing every young islander with an affordable option."
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of CHT, said: “Congratulations to the Raasay community for reaching the next milestone in this project. This development will provide homes for 10 families and help stop outward migration from the island, as well as helping the school and wider community to thrive. We’d like to thank the Scottish Government for their funding support through which local businesses and the economy can also benefit and is therefore creating more resilient island communities.”
Dr Audrey Sinclair, Chair of Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association said: “I am delighted that this project will start in Spring this year. The joint working amongst RDT, CHT and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association has to be applauded in reaching this stage. It is so important for our communities to achieve their visions and affordable housing has a fundamental part to play in making a positive impact on community sustainment.”
To express interest in the homes or self-build plots, please register your details at: www.chtrust.co.uk/future-opportunities.html
The disused school and schoolhouse in Glendale, Skye has received a grant of over £47,000 from the Scottish Government’s Rural Communities in Action Fund to undertake further feasibility, design and development work.
The community-led project to renovate the school and schoolhouse into 5-6 affordable homes is being led by the Glendale Trust, in partnership with the Communities Housing Trust.
This project is supported by the Rural Communities Ideas into Action fund, supported by the Scottish Government and delivered by Inspiring Scotland to encourage and support innovative approaches to community-led local development in rural communities across Scotland.
The Glendale Trust purchased the school in 2014 with funding support from the Scottish Land Fund.
£10,000 has also been provided by the Architectural Heritage Fund towards early-stage costs.
A standard renovation for the Borrodale buildings was found to be unviable, so new and innovative approaches are being looked at, particularly in terms of retrofitting for the climate crisis and to maximise benefits and opportunities for the local community.
There are 39,000 long-term empty homes across Scotland, and an urgent need for affordable housing. The renovation will focus on transforming an eyesore into an asset, providing housing for the local community and supporting economic growth of the region.
It is expected that the development will provide a mix of affordable tenures based on demand, such as social rent equivalent, mid-market rent, low-cost home ownership, or housing for keyworkers. This mix allows more flexibility for a small community, allowing for differing financial capabilities and changing circumstances.
Clare Gray, Chair of The Glendale Trust, said: “Borrodale School and Schoolhouse are embedded in the landscape and in the collective memory of generations of people from Glendale. We are delighted that the Communities Housing Trust, the Scottish Government’s Rural Communities in Action Fund and the AHF also recognise the value of the buildings and together we can now work to create affordable housing within their walls.”
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Glendale Trust in renovating the old school, as it’ll provide much needed housing for the community. It will also be an example of community-led, climate-friendly restoration which communities across the country can replicate and use to boost local skills and economy. The homes will help ensure the community thrives into the future, and the support of Scottish Government and others are key here so we’d like to thank them for that.”
Jo Robertson, Scotland Support Officer, Architectural Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to funding from the William Grant Foundation, the Architectural Heritage Fund is pleased to provide grant towards the re-purposing of Borrodale Schoolhouse. This project will use both traditional and new technologies to improve environmental performance and will find design solutions that can be replicated to similar buildings across the Highlands.”
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 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.
Another home built with assistance from the Highland Self Build Loan Fund has reached completion, providing a suitable home for a local family based on the Isle of Skye.
The Highland Self Build Loan Fund was launched by the Scottish Government in April 2016, and ever since has been providing financial assistance to self-builders around the Highlands.
Scottish Government originally launched the pilot fund in an attempt to rejuvenate what was once the main housing delivery model in the Highlands, and generate economic activity in the area, through encouraging growth in the “self-build” sector again. It is being administered by The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust.
This initial pilot scheme - allocated to Highland Council region - provides applicants with up to £175,000 to help them build their own home. The Scottish Government loan is then repaid by the applicants upon project completion, when they have managed to obtain a mortgage from the likes of a bank or building society.
This particular couple were able to obtain a piece of croft land from a family member, before moving into an on-site static caravan with their two children. Their final goal was to eventually build their own family home adjacent to the croft land they planned to eventually work.
Provision of self-build mortgages is not as prolific as it once was. Since the financial crash in 2007/2008, the number of lender offering self-build mortgages has decreased drastically. The few lenders who do still offer such products, often hold strict policies which mean that many do not qualify. Reasons for being denied a self-build mortgage can vary from, because the applicant is self-employed, or wishes undertake too much of the work themselves to the fact land was gifted from a neighbouring family member.
Having previously been turned down by banks and other high street lenders due to the fact they wished to undertake much of the construction work themselves, when the Highland Self Build Loan Fund was announced in 2016, this particular couple saw it as a way to finally build their ideal family home.
Borrowing a somewhat modest amount, the applicants have managed to build to their predicted budget, with the whole project taking about a year to reach completion. They are now in the process of repaying the Scottish Government loan, having secured their final mortgage with their chosen lender with relative ease.
Having self-procured the entire custom build project, the applicants have been able to maintain full control throughout both the design and construction phases. A timber kit was provided by a local highland-based kit manufacturer before being erected by the self-builders themselves. They then went on to undertake the majority of the outstanding work themselves, while also making use of various contacts they had when required. This was a great example of how involved a self-builder can get in their project, with the applicant taking on much of the construction works, including works such as some internal joinery and fitting of the kitchen, installing underfloor heating and wood burning stove, as well as the drainage fittings and external groundworks.
The family have now moved into their home - providing them with large amounts of space compared to the static caravan they have been residing in the last two years.
The house is a great and considered design and provides the family with a modern and energy efficient home. Despite the high quality design and specification, the couple have managed to build relatively affordably, through undertaking the whole management of the build themselves, while also dedicating the majority of their spare time to undertaking large amounts of building work themselves. Through effective management and determination to be fully involved in the construction itself, they continued to identify savings along the way.
The final result, is a home, which should they have purchased a similar home on the open market, would have cost them a considerable amount more.
Living adjacent to their croft land would not have been possible, if self-build finance was not available to them. Many crofters struggle to find suitable accommodation even relatively close to their crofts. Now that this family have completed their build and moved into their new home, they plan to work the croft and are looking at introducing cattle to the land in the near future.
Housing provision in rural areas such as this one is sparse, and it is often impossible to find a suitably sized home within an affordable budget. In the likes of the Isle of Skye many homes are also retained as holiday homes, which pushes up property prices even further. The Highland Self Build Loan Fund has allowed this family to live in the area they want, alongside their friends and family, and build a home which suits the needs of their family, as well as their budget.
The self-builders are extremely happy with their new 3 bedroom family home, and are very appreciative that they were able to obtain financial assistance from Scottish Government.
They have stated: “The Highland Self Build Loan Fund has heled us, when we had all but given up building our own house. The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust have been amazing in all they have done to help us from the outset, nothing was too much to ask… making a stressful time much easier. This fund has let us build on our croft, meaning we can work it properly and be near both out families.”
The family are extremely grateful for the Highland Self Build Loan Fund, and have said: “We felt physically and emotionally supported, without the support of HSCHT, we would never have continued with our self build plans.”
The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust is delighted to hear such positive feedback, and look forward to seeing other self-builders complete their projects in the near future.
This initial pilot scheme has proved very popular, and has generated huge amounts of enquiries, both in Highland and elsewhere – demonstrating the high demand there is for self-build opportunities around the country. Following the success of the Highland Self Build Loan Fund, Scottish Government have taken note of this, and are currently working on the launch of a national Self Build Loan Fund.
To learn more about the fund, or to download an application pack, please go to www.hscht.co.uk/highland-self-build-loan-fund or get in touch via 01463 233549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The completion of a home in Flodigarry, in Staffin on the Isle of Skye, marks the 50th home to be delivered by The Highland Small Communities Housing Trust’s (HSCHT) Rent to Buy scheme.
Utilising loan funding from the Scottish Government, the innovative scheme has provided affordable homes for rent then purchase in more than 20 Highland communities since it was launched in 2013. It has received recognition by the World Habitat Awards in 2015 as a finalist in the competition.
Providing a stimulus to rural economies was a significant driver for the launch of the Rent to Buy Scheme, coupled with the requirement to provide a solution to the challenging mortgage lending market. The requirement for significant deposits to purchase a property was recognised as a major hurdle to home ownership, so Rent to Buy occupants are assisted after the initial rental period with a loyalty cash-back sum to help them to purchase their home.
Several homes have been completed to address specific householder’s needs including a property in Invergarry and one in Auldearn. The 50 properties are widely spread throughout the Highlands and in many locations where mainstream housing options would be unlikely to be provided such as Acharacle, Shieldaig and Balmacara. Several developments are planned in 2017/18 to bring the same benefits to more communities.
Flodigarry is a crofting township in the north-east of Skye and famous for once being the home of Flora MacDonald, who famously helped Bonnie Prince Charlie evade capture. HSCHT invited the local community to suggest a new name for the house, which is near Dun Flodigarry Hostel and Flodigarry Hotel. Several suggestions were made, most of them in Gaelic, and Flodigarry’s oldest resident, Lena Nicolson, picked “Buailtean Gorma” as her preferred choice. It refers to a site nearby.
Ronnie MacRae, Chief Executive Officer, The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust said:
“We are delighted to be working again with the Scottish Government and a range of experienced local contractors to provide energy-efficient, lower-cost homes throughout the Highlands. By recognizing that a wide range of housing tenures are required in rural areas, one of which, the Rent to Buy Scheme enables access to home ownership and it provides households with the opportunity to rent and then purchase their homes with the aid of a loyalty cash-back amount for their mortgage deposit.
The scheme has proved extremely popular and has Scottish Government loan funding secured for around sixty homes, spread throughout various communities over a three year period”.
HSCHT is also working closely with the Staffin Community Trust and Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association to bring forward a collaborative development to provide six mixed tenure homes at Stenscholl, Staffin. A planning application has now been lodged with Highland Council. Homes for social rent, community-owned rented homes and rent to buy properties will increase the choice of affordable homes and provide a welcome boost to the area. It is hoped that by utilising recent Scottish Government interventions such as Asset Transfer under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 the Rural & Islands Housing Fund, alongside the traditional delivery mechanism of homes using the Housing Association Grant mechanism, it will make the project viable.
Staffin Community Trust chairman Sandy Ogilvie said:
“The need for affordable housing is felt by all small communities. However there is a greater sense of need from the more remote isolated settlements.
So it is with considerable pleasure we have this outstanding house built here within the township of Flodigarry just waiting for a family to make it their home”.
Minister for Housing Kevin Stewart said:
“I’m delighted that our funding has helped to make affordable housing a reality in this rural area. This latest house in Flodigarry is a great example of providing a tailored solution to the needs of individuals, allowing them to remain within, and sustain, their communities.
“I commend the HSCHT’s innovative Rent to Buy scheme and delighted they have now reached 50 homes across the Highlands”.
A spokesperson from R.HOUSE, who are in a partnership with James MacQueen Builders Ltd. stated:
“R.HOUSE are dedicated to providing architect designed, energy efficient, low-cost, locally built homes that can endure the rigours of the Highland weather. We welcomed the opportunity to be involved in this project with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust providing much needed affordable housing in Flodigarry”.
Construction of two new affordable homes will begin shortly at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig through The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust’s Rent to Buy Scheme.
The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) is working in partnership with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO) to provide two sustainable low-cost homes for rent and then purchase next to the College in Kilbeg, Skye. This is the first stage of an exciting wider development which is strongly supported by the Scottish Government, The Highland Council and Highlands & Islands Enterprise. It is anticipated the scheme will provide a varied range of housing and commercial opportunities over the next few years to enhance the campus facilities and to create a more vibrant, sustainable community.
Dr. Donnie Munro, Director of Development, Fundraising and the Arts at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig said: We are delighted to be working with the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust to facilitate the development of these first two houses on the new Kilbeg site and also delighted that the works have been awarded to two local companies. HSCHT has a proven track record of working sensitively and innovatively within economically fragile rural areas throughout the Highlands to provide housing in a manner which takes full account of local need. With Phase 1 of the Kilbeg Development successfully delivered, this is the next step on an exciting journey to creating a sustainable model for a 21st Century Highland village which has Gaelic language and culture very much at its heart. To achieve this, we will work creatively and innovatively through key partnerships to provide affordable housing and enterprise opportunities in the area.
The recent Sleat Housing Needs Survey has been most useful in showing that ...’low cost housing is required, as well as new rental development to keep up with local business growth, such as with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and the population increase identified in census data.’ In addition to the first phase of housing, Sabhal Mòr is also currently about to embark upon a full Feasibility Study and Business Plan into providing badly needed facilities for Sports, Recreation, Health and Fitness for the area, as a critical part of the wider Kilbeg development plan.
At the turf cutting ceremony on the new Kilbeg housing sites are (from left) Steven Gregg, Highland Small Communities Housing Trust; Cllr Audrey Sinclair, The Highland Council; Prof Boyd Robertson, Principal, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig; John Swinney, Deputy First Minister; Angus MacDonald, James MacQueen Building Contractors; and Dr Donnie Munro, Development Director, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
Ronnie MacRae, Chief Executive Officer, The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust said:
“We are delighted to be working again with James MacQueen Builders Ltd. and R.HOUSE to provide energy-efficient, lower-cost homes in Kilbeg. The Rent to Buy Scheme provides households with the opportunity to rent and then purchase their homes with the aid of a loyalty cash-back amount for their mortgage deposit. The scheme has proved extremely popular and it has Scottish Government loan funding secured for around sixty homes, spread throughout various communities over a three year period.
Working with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is an excellent example of how focused partnership working in smaller communities can create positive and significant impacts to address housing shortages in rural areas and also provide a stimulus to the local economy.”
Local construction firm, James MacQueen Builders Ltd. who work alongside Skye based architects Rural Design, has been awarded the contract and they are set to begin work on site shortly.
A spokesperson from R.HOUSE, a partnership between James MacQueen Builders Ltd. and Rural Design stated:
“R.HOUSE is dedicated to providing architect designed, energy efficient, low-cost, locally built homes that can endure the rigours of the Highland weather. We welcomed the opportunity to be involved in this project with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, providing much needed affordable housing as well as a supporting the local Gaelic culture.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
“It is terrific news to hear that the building of these new homes will start soon at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. This is another key step in the ongoing growth and development of the college and regeneration of the area. As well as the housing, these developments include a wide range of benefits for language and education and also for skills and employment.
I was very pleased to hear about the project at the college earlier this summer and I would like to commend staff and trustees at the college for their commitment and vision in bringing these plans to fruition.”
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.