A once in a generation opportunity: the first affordable homes in 20 years tackle the need for long-term residential homes, and will help the island thrive into the future.
The Inner Hebridean island with a population of 125 faced a dilemma of increasing holiday- and second-homes, fewer available homes for residents, and pressure on island services.
In response, Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC) is leading the much-needed project to provide homes and new business opportunities, with support from the Communities Housing Trust.
The initial development of nine new affordable homes just outside Scalasaig and close to the ferry terminal is expected to be complete in autumn 2023. The properties will be allocated according to island priorities and are a mix of affordable rent and discounted sale, as well as discounted self-build plots. A second phase of further affordable housing is planned by CCDC.
Several homes for Mowi staff also form part of the development, which will return to the community if and when they’re no longer needed. Nearby, two new community-owned commercial units are being built as workshop or studio space, to enable existing businesses to grow or new ones to start up.
Applications are now open for all properties, with a deadline of Sunday 19 March for the self-build plots and houses for sale, and a deadline of Sunday 2 July for the rental properties.
People in the island or with local connections to the area through work or family will be prioritised, as a way to promote the ongoing sustainability of island communities. People from outwith the island with particular skillsets and who wish to live and work in Colonsay and contribute to island life are also invited to apply.
There are four 2-3 bedroom homes available for affordable rent, two 2-3-bedroom homes for discounted sale, and three discounted self-build plots.
The Rural Housing Burden is applied to the self-build plots which gives full ownership, and applies a discount percentage in perpetuity which protects the ongoing affordability for the local community.
In 2020, 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 their staff. Further funding for the construction phase has been obtained through Rural and Islands Housing Fund, Argyll & Bute Council’s Strategic Housing Fund, Inspiring Scotland, the £2m Islands Green Recovery Programme (Prògram Ath-Shlànachaidh Uaine nan Eilean), Local Energy Scotland’s CAREs fund and the CCDC’s own very successful Crowdfunding campaign. HIE and Regeneration Capital Grant Fund are funding the business unit build.
Dannie Onn, Director of CCDC said: “On behalf of the Colonsay community, CCDC is looking forward to housing our homeless folk and welcoming new people and families to this beautiful island. We hope they will be part of a fresh impetus for building opportunities for work and life here as part of a sustainable community. It has taken a while to get here, but the legal and financial incentives put in place by the Scottish Government to promote sustainable, self-reliant communities on the Scottish Islands looks to be paying off in Colonsay."
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of the Communities Housing Trust said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for islanders or folk really keen to move to Colonsay. With the homes and the business units, it’s the full package to provide a secure, long-term future for individual families, as well as the island itself. We’d like to particularly thank the Scottish Government for their funding support.
“CCDC’s 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.”
For further details of the properties and to apply, please visit: https://www.chtrust.co.uk/current-opportunities.html.
Affordable housing developments in Aviemore and Gairloch won awards at the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland Housing Awards last night in Glasgow.
The developments were both led by the needs of the local communities, and undertaken by the Communities Housing Trust (CHT).
Held annually by CIH, the awards recognise and celebrate the creativity, passion, and innovation of housing organisations and individuals across the sector in Scotland.
The Achtercairn site in Gairloch won the ‘Excellence in Regeneration’ award. The community-led project was undertaken by CHT in collaboration with many local and regional partners, and completed in 2020 during lockdown. It includes a mix of affordable housing, new shops and commercial space, and the GALE Centre which is Scotland’s first public building to be awarded Passivhaus status.
It is an example of a climate-friendly ‘20-Minute Neighbourhood’, where key services and amenities are a 20-minute walk, cycle or drive from home. It supports the local circular economy and wider area, while reducing the need to travel.
The regeneration project has given the village a bustling new centre, while addressing some of the inequalities faced by rural communities, such as access to affordable housing, education opportunities, and shops and services.
CHT were also awarded ‘Excellence in Housing Innovation’ for the Old Sawmill development at Rothiemurchus near Aviemore, in partnership with members of the local community and the Rothiemurchus Estate.
It provided a total of six self-build homes: 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.
Details on both developments now feature in the CIH Scotland Good Practice Compendium 2021.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “It’s brilliant to have two of our community-led projects in the Highlands recognised in this way, we’re extremely grateful to CIH for the two awards. It also shows what can be achieved through working collaboratively, and we’re glad to be able to show what’s possible for other rural communities in Scotland, as well as elsewhere in the UK. We’ve housed local families and keyworkers in energy-efficient, affordable homes built with sustainable materials. Both developments reduce rural inequalities and the need to travel, and support and promote the local circular economy, while meeting the objectives of the Local Authority and Scottish Government. Thank you and well done to our many partners, and thank you to our funder Nationwide Foundation for supporting community-led development in Scotland.”
Janet Miles, the managing director of Gairloch & Loch Ewe Action Forum (GALE), said: “Everyone at GALE is delighted that Gairloch has been recognised for its achievements in regeneration. We're very proud of the part GALE has played in this, having been driving community-led regeneration in the area for over 20 years now. Our vision was to create a community-owned, social and economic hub in the derelict centre of the village - a physical heart to the community. The development has enabled us to turn this vision into a reality.”
Commenting on the awards, Callum Chomczuk, CIH Scotland director, said: “I am so pleased we have been able to return to our in-person Scotland Housing Awards for 2021. The Awards and accompanying Good Practice Compendium is one of the most important activities for CIH Scotland undertakes each year.
“It promotes and highlights how housing professionals make a difference across Scotland and impact the wider public policy objectives that make a difference to all our lives. Never has this been more important as navigate our way through the twin challenges of an unprecedented global pandemic and climate emergency.
“My congratulations to all our winners but also all our nominees. The standard of application was as ever incredibly high and a testament to the innovation and delivery that our profession should be proud of.”
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.