Assynt Development Trust (ADT) has been awarded £114,000 to take forward the community-led development of affordable homes and community facilities on former glebe land between Lochinver and Glencanisp.
ADT has received £44,000 from The Highland Council’s Community Regeneration Fund, £50,000 from Crown Estate Scotland, a further £10,000 from The Highland Council and £10,000 from the Scottish Government’s Rural and Islands Housing Fund.
The funds will allow ADT to undertake a comprehensive feasibility study and for a design team to develop plans for affordable housing and wider uses on the site.
Nigel Goldie, Chair of ADT notes the issue of more affordable housing has been at the top of its list of priorities since its inception in 2018. He said: “The Board are excited to now be taking forward this significant development. We believe this will be a game changer for housing development in Assynt and create wider opportunities bringing economic and social benefits. We have the land on which to do much more than housing, and we will be looking for opportunities to bring the benefits of community ownership to the wider community.”
A steering group of local organisations is collaborating to map out the full potential of the site, which will include around 10 affordable homes in the first phase. Wider site uses may include a path network, enterprise work units, woodland crofts, and education and training facilities. A longer-term proposal for further affordable housing is being considered. Steering group members include the Assynt Foundation, Assynt Community Council, Lochinver Primary, Church of Scotland Minister, Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape, Ullapool High School and the Woodland Croft Partnership.
Award-winning architects Oberlanders have been appointed to take forward the plans and undertake design work and feasibility study.
They said: “We are delighted to be involved with this project, with the potential to bring such positive benefit to Lochinver. While we are familiar with the challenges of rural construction in the Highlands, we strongly value the ambition to develop sustainable affordable housing aligned with integrated community projects. The Glebe and Glencanisp sites include complex ecological environments of national importance, within which we are progressing appropriate and sensitive proposals with an experienced team of designers.”
The 55-acre site was purchased by the community from the Church of Scotland in 2021 with funds from the Scottish Land Fund. The Communities Housing Trust supported the community with the land acquisition, and will act as development agent for the project.
In 2019, a housing needs assessment undertaken by the Communities Housing Trust on behalf of ADT showed strong demand for affordable housing for all ages, and also particularly from businesses requiring accommodation for staff. With around 27% of housing in the area used as holiday accommodation or second homes according to the 2011 census, the vast majority of the 165 survey respondents believed that people living or working locally should be given priority for the homes.
Ronnie MacRae, chief executive of the Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are extremely pleased to see this crucial project gather momentum. This community-led development will be a flagship for the Lochinver area, meeting a range of needs and also acting as a model for other rural or island communities across Scotland. Being responsive to needs and tailoring in this way is absolutely crucial to ensuring ongoing economic and social sustainability of our rural places.”
A community drop-in event is planned for Tuesday 25 April at Lochinver Village Hall from 3-7pm to meet the architects and view and discuss the initial plans.
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.
17 NEW AFFORDABLE HOMES IN KILBEG DEVELOPMENT
Work on the first new village in Skye in over 100 years begins this week with project partners Sabhal Mòr Ostaig - The National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, The Highland Council and the Communities Housing Trust.
This community-led project will see 17 new affordable homes built as part of the wider Kilbeg Village development in Sleat: 6 homes for social rent with The Highland Council as well as 8 affordable homes and 3 discounted self-build plots with the Communities Housing Trust.
The homes will be a mix of discounted rent and sale, and will include family homes, level-access and wheelchair accessible homes. An adjacent private development by James MacQueen’s Ltd is due to follow shortly after, providing a further 14 flats.
Around 100 homes in total are expected to be built over time, tackling housing needs for all age groups in the community as well as supporting intergenerational living, cultural community spirit and alleviating social isolation.
Given its proximity to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, it is expected that the development will attract Gaelic speakers or learners of all ages, however, the homes will be open to all with a need to live or work in the area.
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Chairman, Angus Macleod said: “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is proud to be spearheading the ambitious Kilbeg project that helps address the chronic need for housing, and aligns with our core aims to support the Gaelic language, culture and local economy.
“This is a great opportunity for those with an affinity to the language and culture to apply to live in accessible, affordable housing in the new Kilbeg community next to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s vibrant campus, where language and culture is shared across generations.”
This next phase follows the Communities Housing Trust’s previous provision of two affordable Rent To Buy homes on the Kilbeg site, now home to two young families.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: "We are extremely excited to be part of this ground-breaking community-led project which will also provide bespoke affordable housing for the elderly and promote intergenerational living. The planned development in Kilbeg is unique in Scotland, in that it will provide a model for a mix of ages and tenures, providing opportunities for older people and younger families to support each other which also takes into account the importance of culture and heritage. Repopulating and regenerating the area in this way makes sense, and helps to ensure long-term future sustainability of the community.”
The development has received funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Partnership Programme, The Highland Council, Scottish Funding Council and the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP commented on a visit to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (pictured above): “It’s been great to see the hard work that has been going into this development, which will help ensure that Gaelic continues to thrive in this community.
“The Scottish Government recognises the important role that Gaelic has in Scotland’s culture and economy. I look forward to seeing this development grow and the positive impact it will have on local communities in Skye.”
Housing Secretary Shona Robison said: “It is fantastic to see work start on this project in Kilbeg. Working with the Communities Housing Trust and The Highland Council and supported by over £1.2 million from Scottish Government, this project will deliver high quality, affordable homes, that will meet people’s needs and allow them to live independently, whilst remaining in their community.
“These homes will support our commitment to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, of which at least 70% will be for social rent and 10% in remote, rural and island communities.
The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Cllr Ken Gowans said: “Creating a community-led new village in Skye for the first time in over 100 years is pioneering, ambitious and pivotal to the Skye and Raasay Future (SARF) plan. The Kilbeg development has community, heritage and culture at its forefront and this innovative approach to intergenerational community living, could well be a catalyst for other areas across Highland. It’s great that construction can begin at Kilbeg and we look forward to working in close partnership with the Communities Housing Trust and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig throughout the Kilbeg village development.”
The homes will be close to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the local primary school and nursery. Also nearby is the local Medical Centre and GP Practice, Café Ostaig and the local community-owned shop at Armadale, which can be accessed by a local community transport service for the elderly.
To express interest in the homes, please register your details at:
Two areas of land at Ardochy have been purchased by Glengarry Community Woodlands and the Communities Housing Trust for six new woodland crofts, and four to six new affordable homes, to help repopulate the glen.
Both land purchases totalling 66 hectares (163 acres) of Ardochy Forest were funded in part by the Scottish Land Fund, via Forestry and Land Scotland’s Community Asset Transfer scheme. The Scottish Land Fund (SLF) is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the National Lottery Community Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The community-led project comprising Glengarry Community Woodlands, the Woodland Crofts Partnership, and the Communities Housing Trust will help improve the long-term sustainability of Glengarry. This issue is reflected across many rural Highland communities where access to affordable housing and jobs can be extremely limited.
Development of the croft and housing project followed a consultation process with the community who gave their input on the future of the land. Access to both housing and land were highlighted as important issues throughout the responses.
Glengarry Community Woodlands will now work with the Woodland Crofts Partnership to establish four new woodland crofts over 47 hectares (116 acres) of the forest.
In addition, the Communities Housing Trust will provide two new woodland crofts and four to six affordable homes over 19 hectares (47 acres), which will be a mix of tenures based on the needs of the local community: rental properties, homes for discounted sale, and croft housing. Any homes for sale will have discounts protected in perpetuity by the Rural Housing Burden, which also prioritises local communities in allocations, allowing control over future sales.
The crofts will similarly be protected to ensure their benefits are retained within the community upon any future change of occupation.'
The Chair of Glengarry Community Woodlands, Ross Lynn, said: “Glengarry Community Woodlands is delighted to be taking ownership of this land on behalf of the community, thanks to support from the Scottish Land Fund. We are looking forward to working in partnership with the Communities Housing Trust, and the Woodland Crofts Partnership to deliver the community’s plans for woodland crofts and affordable housing on the land, proposals that proved popular in our consultation meeting.
“This is a pivotal moment for Glengarry as this project will provide young people and families with much-needed opportunities to remain in the area and to generate income through the sustainable management of this local woodland.”
The community will work alongside the project partners to set the allocation criteria for the homes and crofts, with a focus on both addressing local needs alongside encouraging repopulation of the glen.
The new crofts will bring the total number of woodland crofts applied for or registered by community groups to 30, a significant proportion of all new crofts created in recent years.
Woodland crofts are crofts with sufficient tree cover overall to be considered woodland. Like any croft, they confer a mixture of rights and responsibilities on crofters, but based on management of the forest. The model can support both lifestyles and livelihoods, and has particular potential to deliver low-carbon living.
Main contractor for the Woodland Croft Partnership, Jamie McIntyre, said: “We’re delighted to see the land transfers needed to make this project a reality finally go through – it has been a long journey to get to this point. The approach pioneered here by GCW of working in partnership to deliver badly needed crofts is one which is transferable to other communities, and one which we hope will be taken up more widely. We’d also like to thank the Scottish Government for funding support in the development of this project”.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “This is a fantastic example of holistic rural development targeting regeneration and repopulation that will also benefit both the economy and the environment. It demonstrates positive land use and stewardship, and we’re delighted to be working with Glengarry Community Woodlands and the Woodland Crofts Partnership to take the project forward. A combination of genuinely affordable homes and woodland crofts, spearheaded by the local community, is a great model that other rural communities will be able to look to.”
The project’s next steps are to develop a forest design plan and masterplan for the land and to develop replicable legal templates for tenanted and owner-occupied croft models.
Forestry & Land Scotland Chief Executive, Simon Hodgson, said: “As part of Scottish Government, our Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS) is giving Scotland’s communities more opportunities to develop land-based projects that will deliver benefits such as job creation, skills development, income generation and improved amenity.
“With this latest completion, we look forward to seeing the development of crofts and affordable housing that will do much to revitalise and strengthen the local community.
“It’s another great example of how CATS helps communities make the best use of the national forests and land.”
Sandra Holmes, HIE’s head of community assets, said: “This innovative, community-led project is a great example of place-based development. The mix of tenures and new crofts will provide a range of opportunities to best meet local needs today and in the future. We particularly welcome the measures to keep these opportunities affordable in perpetuity. Our congratulations to Glengarry Community Woodlands and Communities Housing Trust in securing the land to enable this important development to progress.”
Earlier this year, Applecross Community Company successfully secured surplus land from NHS Highland and started building community owned housing. The project received funding from the Scottish Land Fund, SSE Sustainable Development Fund and Rural & Islands Housing Fund to build 3 homes adjacent to the surgery.
CHT are project managing the development on behalf of ACC and look forward to the completion of the homes later this year. Older residents of Applecross will be given priority in allocations to the properties, although anyone in the community and further afield can apply.
For many years it has been difficult to locate a suitable site within the community to take forward a housing project. The site beside the surgery was identified by ACC and they led the initial discussions with the local NHS service providers. CHT helped to shape the project and supported ACC to develop the proposals. The Rural & Islands Housing Fund made it possible to take forward an affordable housing project, with ACC also investing from their local renewables project Applejuice http://www.applecrosshydro.scot/
The delivery of this project has paved the way for to ACC purchase 2 more areas of land in the community from the Applecross Trust. Watch this space for more exciting #communityledhousing #woodlandcrofts
Do you want to live in a rural village in East Sutherland? The residents of Edderton in the Scottish Highlands are looking for families, couples and individuals to help reinvigorate their village which has experienced some population decline over the last few decades.
Within a short stroll from the renowned Dornoch Firth, good travel links through the nearby A9, a primary school and the home of Balblair Distillery, there are plenty of opportunities for new businesses and services to spring up. Edderton is also close to the town of Tain with its secondary school, railway station and other amenities.
Ewen Simpson, local resident and farmer: “We need young families, not just in Edderton, but across the Highlands… In Edderton in the 1970s, we had a post office, a shop, we even had petrol pumps outside the shop at one point, and the pub, all of which is gone now, which does take the heart out of a community. That will all change again, we’ll get there again.”
Local partnership Caledonia Forestry Ltd. has helped to facilitate and enable the project by gifting the land for community development.
The Communities Housing Trust (CHT), who work closely with communities across central and northern Scotland to provide affordable housing and other amenities, are currently conducting two Housing Needs Surveys with the support of Edderton Community Council. One survey is focused on current residents and people who live nearby, and one is for people who currently live out with the area who would like to move in.
The development will include 5-7 affordable homes of mixed tenures, including discounted self-build plots, and the surveys will help dictate what homes and tenures are required.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust: “With land available to build affordable homes, we now need to know who would like to live here and become a part of helping this village thrive again. It’s a rare and forward-thinking opportunity to repopulate a rural area, especially with increasing options for homeworking, new business start-ups and economic diversification.”
While the community are supportive of newcomers to Edderton to help make the village thrive again, the development will also cater for any existing local need from in and around the area.
Michael Brown, local resident and chair of the Edderton Community Council: “Young families and jobs are the life blood of a community. Like so many Highland villages, the Primary School has a falling role, and the local church is on the verge of closure. The Communities Housing Trust has thrown us a lifeline to our future. We have already worked with them on a recent housing project which is almost complete with the tenancy allocation awarded to two young families. We would like to welcome new people to our village, so this is great news for us, and we are so grateful to the CHT.”
If you’d like to be part of helping Edderton thrive into the future and could genuinely see yourself living in this rural village, or already live in the vicinity, please complete the Housing Needs Survey here: www.chtrust.co.uk/surveys. The survey closes on 13 June.
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.