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
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”.
Lochaber communities are benefitting from twenty new affordable homes due to collaboration between Lochaber Housing Association (LHA) and The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT).
After listening to the needs of local communities the new homes are located in Kilchoan, Lochyside (Fort William), Mallaig and Strontian.
This ambitious development programme forms part of an agreement between LHA and HSCHT to build 40 new homes per year. Development is currently on-going in several areas in Lochaber to invigorate the area by offering a diverse range of housing tenures to strengthen the communities.
LHA provides social rented homes and low-cost home ownership properties (LIFT), to complement HSCHT’s Rent to Buy Scheme and self-build options.
Blair Allan, Chief Executive of Lochaber Housing Association said: “Scottish Government financial support for increasing the number of new affordable homes throughout Scotland is at unprecedentedly high levels and we are committed to doing our utmost, in conjunction with the Highland Council, to take up all the available funding in Lochaber where, as everyone knows, the need for good quality truly affordable is so high. As many will be aware, the Association stopped developing new build properties some years back because grant levels and borrowing terms in the financial markets were so disadvantageous. Now, however, revised grant levels and better market conditions have enabled us to resurrect our new build programme and our development services partnership with the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust has been invaluable in enabling us to gear up again, not only to deliver our ambitious new build programme, but to provide a diversity of tenures that reflect local needs. We are looking forward to continuing to work with the Trust to deliver even more new affordable housing opportunities wherever the need exists in communities throughout Lochaber.”
Kilchoan has recently benefitted from three properties for social rent and there are ten properties at Lochyside, made up of eight for social rent and two through the Scottish Government’s LIFT scheme.
The Director of S & K MacDonald Homes Ltd. who built the properties at Kilchoan said that:
"S&K MacDonald Homes Ltd are delighted to be working with the HSCHT & LHA to deliver new homes throughout Lochaber. These projects have allowed us to increase our local work force and invest in additional plant, equipment & training. More importantly the release of a constant stream of projects let's us retain more apprentice joiners. We see the work we do for HSCHT as a win win for the area - creating homes and local jobs."
Quote from Campbell Joinery (Lochyside): “We were pleased to have been the principle Design & Build Contractor for the recently completed development at Lochyside, which involved the construction of 10 new homes. This enables local firms such as us to offer a continuation of long-term employment in the construction industry.”
In Mallaig, there is one Rent to Buy property. This two bedroom property is due for occupation next month.
A spokesperson from A.N Fraser Joinery & Building Contractor Ltd. said: “A.N Fraser Joinery specialise in the design & build of timber frame homes from start to completion. We were delighted to be given the opportunity to be involved in this worthwhile project in Mallaig with HSCHT, providing much needed affordable housing in the area.”
In Strontian six new homes have been recently completed alongside a serviced plot for self-build. To aid potential self-builders the Scottish Government has provided a £4m fund, The Highland Self-Build Loan Fund, where eligible applicants can borrow up to £175,000 to fund the initial stages of their build. http://www.hscht.co.uk/highland-self-build-loan-fund.html
Occupants are soon due to move into the properties built next to the High School in Strontian. This is the first stage of an inspiring wider development which is strongly supported by the Sunart community following a masterplanning exercise for the larger site. The development also includes Scotland’s first community owned primary school being driven forward by the Strontian Community School Building Group Ltd. and currently project managed by HSCHT. This is an excellent example of communities taking control of their own needs. The group currently has a live invitation to purchase shares to raise funds for the project.
The Sunart Community Council, of which Strontian is part, said that:
“The Sunart Community Council is pleased that the recent housing development in Strontian, on School Road, is now completed. This development was in conjunction with the Lochaber Housing Association and the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust. There are six properties, and a self-build plot which is for sale. Three of the properties are for social rent with Lochaber Housing Association, and the other three being for Rent to Buy. The Sunart Community Council is also pleased to see that all of the properties have been allocated to people in need of housing in the local area.”
Local construction firm, James MacQueen Builders Ltd. who work alongside Skye based architects Rural Design, have recently completed the properties in Strontian. 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, providing much needed affordable housing on the first phase of development at Strontian.”
Ronnie MacRae, Chief Executive Officer, The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust said:
“We are delighted to be working again with a range of experienced local contractors to provide energy-efficient, lower-cost homes throughout Lochaber in various housing tenures. The Rent to Buy Scheme is a low-cost home ownership scheme which 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.
Working with Lochaber Housing Association 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. The Highland Council and the Scottish Government’s continued support allows a diverse mix of housing tenures to be provided and also acts as a stimulus to the Highland economy.”
Minister for Housing Kevin Stewart said:
“I am delighted that the strong working relationship between Lochaber Housing Association and Highland Small Communities Housing Trust, along with their construction partners, has resulted in such positive outcomes. The Scottish Government encourages the use of different housing models and these practical examples of rural housing, backed by our affordable housing supply programme, low-cost home ownership scheme (LIFT), as well as our Highland Rent to Buy Scheme and self-build pilots, has given people who might not otherwise have been able to afford their own homes the opportunity to get on the housing ladder.
“Last year we also launched of a £25 million Rural Housing Fund which will also provide an estimated 500 new affordable homes for Scotland in rural areas over the next three years by helping with the building of new homes and the refurbishment of existing buildings.”
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.”
Our Rent to Buy Scheme is one of four projects who have been nominated for a Rural Innovators Award under the Housing category.
Our spokesperson Ronnie MacRae has said “We are delighted that our Rent to Buy Scheme has been nominated in the Rural Innovator Awards 2016. The main benefits of the scheme is that it is viable in many communities and it is based on loan funding rather than grant funding making it work in any economic climate. As a pioneer of innovative housing models this is one of the ways in which we can help and support families and our rural communities to thrive”.
The Rural Innovator Awards are run by Scottish Rural Action and seek to recognise and showcase some of the most innovative and effective ways in which rural challenges can be addressed. It will be awarded to a project, person or organisation who is improving life in rural communities by tackling one of the priority challenges.
Other projects nominated in this category include:
Scottish Rural Action National Coordinator Emma Cooper said “We are very excited to be able to start accepting votes for the Rural Innovators Awards. Some incredible and inspiring projects were nominated for the awards in this category and shortlisting was a challenging task. We would encourage people to have a look at the shortlisted projects on our website and choose the project they find most innovative and inspiring. The awards will be presented at the Scottish Rural Parliament in Brechin”
You can vote online at http://www.scottishruralparliament.org.uk/get-involved/ria-2015-16/
Voting closes at midnight on the 18th September 2016.
Winners will receive a paid-for place at the Scottish Rural Parliament 2016 on 6-8th October 2016 taking place at Brechin Community Campus in Angus and will have the opportunity to present their project to delegates.
Two new energy efficient single storey homes have been built for the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust’s Rent to Buy Scheme at Reraig, Balmacara, Kyle of Lochalsh on land previously owned by the Kinlochshiel Shinty Club.
The Kinlochshiel Shinty Club approached the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust to explore the possibility of working together to procure a new state of the art shinty pitch by offering part of their site for affordable housing. Working in partnership with the local club has resulted in mutual benefits to the club and to the local community by improving the facilities and helping to address housing need locally. Due to the popularity of the scheme, a third home has been built at “Grant Road” and an open day to celebrate its completion is being held on 27th July.
James MacQueen Builders Ltd. has previously built seven R.HOUSE’s over two phases for the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust at Auldearn as part of a larger development including private homes at Montrose Woods. The homes have received excellent feedback on the extremely low running costs experienced by the tenants, which makes the homes more affordable to live in, as well as, to rent and then purchase.
Ronnie MacRae, Chief Executive Officer, The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust said:
“Once again we are delighted to be working with James MacQueen Builders Ltd. and R.HOUSE to provide energy efficient, lower-cost homes in Balmacara. The Rent to Buy Scheme provides households with the opportunity to rent and the 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 loan funding secured for around 60 homes, spread throughout Highland communities over a 3 year period.
This development is an excellent example of how dedicated partnership working in smaller communities can have a significant impact. The Kinlochshiel Shinty Club has been an excellent partner to work with and we wish them every success with their new pitch and their shinty fixtures”.
Keith Loades on behalf of The Shinty Club stated:
“We welcome the great news that the new houses are about to be tenanted. It was a pleasure to be able to work with Highland Communities Small Housing Trust and James MacQueen and it is pleasing to note that all parties have secured their own objectives whilst at the same time providing much needed housing and an excellent sporting facility which will benefit the wider community for years to come”.
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 and Kinlochshiel Shinty Club, providing much needed affordable housing as well as a new sporting facility that will benefit the community for generations. We wish them every success for the future”.
Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart MSP:
“I am delighted to see that the Rent to Buy Scheme has given people who might not otherwise have been able to afford their own homes the opportunity to get on the housing ladder. Over the past 3 years, the Scottish Government has invested over £7 million to deliver new Rent to Buy homes.
We have now launched a £25 million Rural Housing Fund for Scotland which will provide an estimated 500 new affordable homes in rural areas over the next three years by helping with the building of new homes and the refurbishment of existing buildings.”
For more details, call R.House on 01478 612 899; the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust on 01463 233 549 or Kinlochshiel Shinty Club on firstname.lastname@example.org
We have been announced as one of 10 finalists in this years World Habitat Awards!
Our Rent To Buy Scheme has been named as one of the top 10 projects worldwide, as organisations and projects around the world were nominated.
The World Habitat Awards were established in 1985 by the Building and Social Housing Foundation as part of its contribution to the United Nations International Year of Shelter for the Homeless.
Two awards are given annually to projects that provide practical and innovative solutions to current housing needs and problems.
For more information on the award, go to www.worldhabitatawards.org
And for more information on our Rent To Buy Scheme, as well as as all other finalists from this year and previous years, go to
On Tuesday 9th June 2015, we held an Open Day, to mark the opening of our newly completed Invergarry project. It was attended by those who helped to make their dream become a reality along with family members of the new tenants, friends and some people from the local village.
The couple moving into the home, have lived in the area for 16 years, and have brought up their two children there. The wife of the couple suffers from multiple sclerosis which has resulted in her requiring a wheelchair. This has proved very difficult in there current property – which was not wheelchair friendly at all, including elements such as stairs.
They contacted HSCHT to find a solution to their housing issues due to their existing home being difficult to adapt to suit Carol’s health needs. . A self-build project was considered but this option proved to be difficult to achieve for a variety of reasons. Still wanting to assist the family to find a solution, in 2013, HSCHT was awarded loan funding from the Scottish Government to provide homes through a Rent to Buy Scheme. This seemed to fit the bill perfectly, allowing the design of the new build home for low cost home ownership to be tailored specifically for the couple.
The Rent To Buy scheme has proved to be a very successful project for both HSCHT and the Scottish Government. Not only have they managed to provide affordable housing solutions to families and communities around the Highlands, but in this particular case, they have managed to make a couples life so much easier.
Unable to find alternative suitable housing in the area, should this project not have gone ahead, the couple were facing the reality that they may have to move away from the community after 16 years. Not only are they a big part of their community, but the prospect of a life altering move away would have provided them both with a lot of unnecessary stress.
The new house was built by local joinery and construction firm – A&N Fraser, who did a great job on the project and also attended the Open Day. Within the house design is a number of features ad design choices which make the day to day life of the couple so much easier. Through the Rent To Buy Scheme, a brand new affordable home is being provided to this couple, that not only allows them to remain within their community, but was also designed to be tailor-built to suit their particular needs, including an low windows, level access to the garden and into the house via a car port, an en-site wetroom and wide hallways. The circulation of the property remains fluid and flexible, while incorporating a number of doorways between the rooms.
Tuesday itself was a great day. Tying in with the couples Anniversary, they were given a set of keys to their new property. Many people from the community turned up for the Open Day marking the completion of the home, as well as others involved in the project such as representatives from the Scottish Government, with Mairi Ross speaking at the event.
The couple were extremely happy with their new home, with Carol saying:
“I’m so excited to finally be getting the house we’ve waited so long for. The fact that we got the keys on our anniversary made it even more special, it’s just the best present ever. When ou’re disabed, everything has to be done differently and even things like moving from my wheelchair to the stairlift was becoming too hard. I’ve been telling everyone about this new house so I can’t wait to move in now”
This project is just another example of the varying ways HSCHT try to help people in rural communities with their housing problems. We have known the couple for a few years now while trying to help them with their situation through various means, and it is amazing to finally be able to provide them with a home which suits their needs, while also allowing them to remain within their community.
If you have any questions regarding the Rent To Buy Scheme, or any of the other work that HSCHT do, please feel free to get in touch. Either by calling us on 01463 233549, or by email at email@example.com
Upcoming Blogs To Look Out For –
Renovation of Acharacle Community Property | The Nationwide Foundation Empty Homes Fund
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, should you be interested in how we can help you or your community, call us on 01463 233549.
Acharacle, Rent To Buy Project
This 2 bedroom property located within Acharacle is currently still in its final stages of construction. Although we are looking to allocate the new home in the very near future.
The building was designed and constructed by S&K MacDonald Homes, creating a home which is both modern and energy efficient.
Heating is provided by an air to air heat pump with A rated efficiency. Hot water is provided by a mains pressure direct cylinder, Megaflow Direct. The first floor is for future development. Initially the home will have 2 bedrooms downstairs as shown on the ground floor plan.
The windows and external doors are Scandinavian style softwood, while the external of the home will be made up of larch cladding.
The Application Process
The Rent to Buy Scheme aims to help mainly, but not exclusively, first time buyers who wish to own a home, such as people living in social housing; private rented housing; or with relatives. However other factors may lead to a person being selected for the scheme such as a significant change in your household circumstances. If you already own your home or part-own a property you will be required to sell your interest in that property in order to make you eligible for the scheme.
The allocation process of our properties follows specific criteria, in an attempt to ensure that the most suitable applicant or family is successful in securing their own affordable home. Priority is given to those who:
(i) living in the area where the homes are located,
(ii) have immediate family there,
(iii) work in the area,
(iv) or have a need to live there.
(v) are currently living out with the area, but can add social and economic benefit by moving to the area.
(vi) can release a social rented home
These criteria ensure that the house is allocated to whoever will receive the most benefit from the property, while also allowing someone who has a connection to the area, to remain living in the area.The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust aim to help rural communities become both socially and economically sustainable in their own right. A large number of people are having to leave their rural communities to live and work elsewhere, meaning these small villages and areas suffer. As more and more people from rural backgrounds are forced to relocate, HSCHT’s various housing schemes try to prevent this by allowing families who have lived in the area for generations to continue this tradition. In an attempt to enhance the economic and social sustainability of rural areas in the Highlands, these new properties can also act as accommodation to young or skilled individuals who have the potential to benefit the community.
We will assess all applications to ensure that applicants can afford the monthly rental payments and that they are likely to secure a mortgage for the home in 5 years’ time, based on their current circumstances.
1. Complete HSCHT’s application form.
2. Provide HSCHT with the supporting documents listed on the enclosed form to prove that you can fully fund your rental payments and in due course, your mortgage. Please return the form and documents by the specified date otherwise your application may not be considered.
3. HSCHT will assess the applications and allocate the homes according to the allocations policy. All applicants will receive a letter to let them know if they have been successful or not.
4. Successful applicants will be sent a letter and a reservation form, which they need to return to HSCHT with the reservation fee.
5. HSCHT will instruct their solicitor to provide successful applicants with the short assured tenancy agreement, the end user agreement and other associated paperwork for the home. You will be required to sign up to the RTBS at this point, and whilst not essential you are advised to take advice from your own solicitor on all aspects of the scheme.
6. You will be kept up to date as to when the home will be ready for occupation.
Sample Application Form. Please Go To Current Opportunities For Full Application Form
We are currently accepting applications for the following schemes –
Alness, Greener Homes x 2. As featured in our previous blog. Click For Link.
Daviot, Greener Homes x 2
Kyleakin, Rent To Buy x 1 (Allocated Since Time Of Publishing)
Acharacle, Rent To Buy x 1 (Allocated Since Time Of Publishing)
Request an application form or brochure for this project by contacting us by email or on 01463 233 549.
If you are unable to apply for this Rent To Buy house in Acharacle, but are interested in moving to a new home within the area, a further property will be available within the coming months, as HSCHT work on renovating an existing empty property, bringing it up to livable standards to provide a great new home to another individual, couple or family. This community owned project will be supported by the Nationwide Foundation, who have included the trust as part of their Empty Homes funding. More information will become available nearer the time, and the project will feature on this blog. However, if you would like to know more, or wish to express early interest in the project, get in touch with me by emailing email@example.com
We are extremely happy to announce that The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust has just secured a total of £3 million from the Scottish Government to fund our very successful Rent to Buy Scheme.
This funding will contribute towards the building of around 25 new homes in rural areas around the whole of the Highlands. The houses will be rented for five years to people who cannot afford to instantly buy their own home within the current property market.
The Rent To Buy scheme is an innovative way we look to secure affordable housing for individuals and families who are struggling to get on the property ladder.
Rent To Buy – An Affordable Way To Own Your Own Home
The tenant rents the home for a period of 5 years in an attempt to save up a deposit before purchasing the property. After this 5 year period, HSCHT will also return a percentage of the rent paid to go towards the deposit on the home.
Due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden, where the trust maintains 20% equity of the property, it is possible to sell the house to the tenant for about 20% lower than the market value. We also hold the right of pre-emption on the property.
The price of the homes are agreed upon at the beginning of the rental period, ensuring the tenant is not affected by rising house prices.
This will be our third phase of Rent To Buy developments, currently in the process of supplying around 37 new homes to people around the Highlands. In the past our projects have been developed in the following list of villages and towns, some of which (mainly Phase 2) we are currently working on or are due to start shortly:
Phase 1 – Dornoch, Fodderty, Beauly, Auldearn, Lochcarron, Gairloch and Sheildag.
Phase 2 – Dornoch, Gorthleck, Inverarnie, Auldearn, Sheildag, Balmacara, Kyleakin, Flodigarry, Aviemore, Strontian, Acharacle, Invergarry and Mallaig.
Our third phase of Rent To Buy units will aim to supply great affordable housing solutions to towns and villages around the Highlands. Various and different housing types will be supplied to more communities, as HSCHT aim to benefit people in new areas of the Highlands, and perhaps in communities we have worked with in the past.
In an interview with STV News, Ronnie MacRae, our chief executive, said:
“The Scottish Government’s approach to innovative and increased rural development is hugely helpful, and this scheme which has various benefits is proving extremely popular with individuals, contractors and communities alike. The scheme is based entirely on loan finance which has the potential to be recyclable and provide social and economic benefit to rural communities for the longer term.”
The Housing minister Margaret Burgess, who announced the funding during today’s Scotland Policy Event has stated:
“This successful Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme is giving people who might not otherwise have been able to afford their own homes the opportunity to get on the housing ladder. Despite financial challenges over the last few years from Westminster, housing continues to be a priority for us. We are three quarters of the way towards achieving our target of 30,000 additional affordable homes by the end of this Parliament. This boost to the Rural Rent to Buy Scheme will make sure rural communities don’t miss out and they also benefit from new affordable houses which otherwise would not have been built”
Margaret Burgess came to visit some of our projects earlier this year during the summer. She was even present to mark the completion of our Rent To Buy and Greener Homes projects in Fodderty. Meeting with the 4 families as they settled into their new homes – 4 semi-detached modern and sustainable designs by MAKAR Construction.
MSP Margaret Burgess, Visiting Our Fodderty Homes Earlier This Year With Our Chair Bill Hall
We are very excited about these new developments, and hope we are able to help people and communities greatly in the near future.
Click on this link – 3 Million For Highland Homes – to read the full press release by the Scottish Government about the fund.
If you would like any information about our current Rent To Buy Developments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In other news this week at HSCHT, the first two of our Greener Homes in Alness have been bought, with each looking forward to moving in to their new new modern and sustainable houses. We are currently still looking for tenants to the other two homes in Alness, as well as properties in Dornoch, Kyleakin and Lochcarron.
This blog post focuses on some of the projects we have in the Easter Ross and East Sutherland area of the Highlands. Various housing schemes that we provide are occurring in the town of Dornoch; while Alness is in the process of providing new properties under the Greener Homes Initiative. Our main contractors in these areas so far have been J & S Gunn Ltd, and Pat Munro Homes.
Recently we have had a mass increase in the provision of affordable housing in the Dornoch area. Having originally provided 2 semi-detached properties through our first phase of Rent To Buy developments, we are on our way to completing a further two homes as part of our second phase of Rent To Buy.
Our first of these developments was built by J & S Gunn Ltd. – two x three bedroom semi-detached properties completed in September this year. This project was done as part of our first phase of Rent To Buy homes. 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.
Rent To Buy Phase 1, Dornoch
Rural Housing Burden – A means of protecting the original discount offered on the home.
If you buy a home of ours which has this attached, you will still have full title to the property, although HSCHT holds a pre-emption right. Whilst you can pass the home onto your children, if you decide to sell it, this right of pre-emption which gives HSCHT the option to buy is back for the previously agreed equity share. This allows us to keep our house prices low, and maintain our ability to provide housing to families who may otherwise struggle to own their own home.
Nearing completion, and available for occupation early in the new year, we have 2 semi-detached bungalows, complete with front and back garden and off street parking. These houses are available to local families and individuals through the second phase of our Rent To Buy Scheme.
Rent To Buy Phase 2, Dornoch
The properties have been built by Pat Munro, as part of their large Deans Park development of new housing of various types in Dornoch. The great new homes – which tie in with the rest of the brand new modern housing and street development – include a spacious, open plan lounge and kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. In the final stages of construction, these properties are yet to be assigned; so if you are interested in applying, contact us about an application or brochure.
Visualisation of Internal Layout for illustrative purposes.
Due to be complete in February next year, we have also managed to introduce another two homes by J & S Gunn Ltd. through the Greener Homes Initiative – adjacent to the homes they previously built for us as part of our original Rent To Buy scheme.
These Greener Homes are being developed for the Highland Council. The tenants for these properties will be selected from the Highland Housing Register – a register shared between the Highland Council and registered social landlords around the Highlands compiled of anyone in the area seeking social rented housing.
The Greener Homes Initiative -
Following a successful bid from HSCHT and the Highland Council, through the Scottish Governments Greener homes Initiative (GHI), funding was secured to provide 20 units throughout the Highlands. While 13 of these units will be provided by HSCHT, a further 7 will made available by the Highland Council.
The Initiative aims to encourage modern sustainable and environmentally friendly developments, by providing funding to projects which make use of greener technologies, modern methods of construction carbon friendly materials.
Greener Homes, Dornoch
The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust have had a presence in Dornoch for several years now, with another two properties on the same street being sold to families back in 2008 through a shared equity scheme – allowing them to purchase an affordable home due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden.
We are also working with Pat Munro in the town of Alness, to deliver four new homes through the Greener Homes Initiative. Located in Newfield, Alness, these four semi-detached two bedroom bungalows can be purchased at a low fixed price now due to the attachment of a Rural Housing Burden.
Greener Homes, Alness
These properties are similar to the units designed and built by Pat Munro in Dornoch. Each includes two bedrooms, a bathroom and a large open plan kitchen and lounge area.
The modern layout is complemented by the modern methods of design and construction, with each encompassing greener ideals, from high levels of insulation to the introduction of Canadian Solar Black Panels. Pat Munro Homes have a proven track record of building sustainable homes, and these are no exception. The houses are designed to have lower running costs and are built to the Scottish Building Standards Silver Active Level of sustainability.
Visualisation of Internal Layout for illustrative purposes
While two of the properties in this scheme have already been completed and assigned to happy tenants, we are still taking applications from people who are interested in moving into the remaining two Greener Homes, which we are due to take handover of the second week in January.
We are currently taking applications for both the Pat Munro ‘Rent To Buy’ properties in Deans Park, Dornoch, as well as the new ‘Greener Homes’ being developed by them in Alness.
If you are interested in any of these schemes, get in contact to receive a brochure and application form. Contact me at email@example.com
On Wednesday 12th November, we held an Open Day to showcase our Rent to Buy and Greener Homes projects which have been taking place in the village of Lochcarron.
The development incorporates two Rent To Buy units, and two Greener Home units. While the two Rent To Buy properties have been assigned, the Greener Homes are still available for anyone who is interested in applying. (Application instructions can be found towards the end of this blog post).
The Greener Homes Scheme aims to help people who would like to become home owners by providing them with the opportunity to purchase new homes that are sustainable, energy efficient and affordable. Like the Rent To Buy scheme, these properties are available to rent for a 5 year period before the tenant is given the opportunity to purchase the house at a discount of around 20% below the open market value as a Rural Housing Burden is attached.
These contemporary homes built by Highland based contractors, MAKAR Construction, are all single story, 2 bedroom, semi-detached properties with each incorporating a very open-plan layout, while allowing stunning views over the hills and water.
As with all our Greener Homes projects, the units aim to meet the highest of environmental standards, with each house having a very low total of embodied energy. Through the use of locally sourced timber and the natural non-toxic insulation and other materials, the development looks to meet top environmental standards. The air-tight structures includes wood burning stoves to create a warm and and economically sustainable home for each family.
Yesterdays Open Day was a great success, allowing us to showcase these great new sustainable homes to the local community as well as others involved in the project. We were there from the afternoon to the early evening, with many visitors deciding to swing by to learn more about the project as well as get to see inside the modern timber properties.
As we head into the colder winter months, many visitors to the properties commented on how the houses proved to great at keeping the heat in, with the wood burning stove warming up the house.
Prospective tenants who were at the open day were also able to start the thought process of how they are going to furnish their new homes in an attempt the create great new personal living.
We are still accepting applications for the two remaining Greener Home properties, so if you are interested in applying, or would simply like more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, just give us a call on 01463 233 549.
To find out more about the contractors of this project, head over tohttp://www.makar.co.uk and have a look at some of the other great work they do.
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.