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.