The Old Sawmill development at Rothiemurchus near Aviemore has been selected as a finalist in the Rural Housing category of the Scottish Land & Estates Helping It Happen Awards.
The development is a collaboration between members of the local community, the Rothiemurchus Estate, and the Communities Housing Trust.
It provided a total of six self-build homes on Rothiemurchus land: 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.
Aviemore is a highly desirable area, with challenges of land availability and planning, limited available housing stock, and even less affordable housing.
With an urgent need for new and fair middle-market opportunities and solutions, several local families formed a co-operative and approached Johnnie Grant of Rothiemurchus to tackle the issue, with the Communities Housing Trust brokering the unique cross-subsidy model to provide the plots.
The high-quality family homes use local and sustainable materials where possible, and embody the Rothiemurchus vernacular with larch cladding and tin roofing. The homes, each built to individual specifications, are highly energy-efficient and air-tight for environmental reasons and to reduce running costs, another aspect of affordable homes, with air-source heat pumps. There is also a 12-year tree-planting plan on the site.
The Old Sawmill development is the first project to benefit from the Dr & Mrs Steven Faulds Memorial Fund, which is dedicated to buying land, servicing plots and facilitating self-builds, and is administered by the Communities Housing Trust.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “We’re extremely grateful that this ‘no public subsidy’ model has been recognised by Scottish Land & Estates - it’s a win-win collaboration on estate land to secure affordable housing using self-build, within the Cairngorms National Park. We’ve supported four local families to build their own homes and remain in the area – which may not otherwise have been possible – while meeting the objectives of the Local Authority and Scottish Government, and we are very hopeful this development can be replicated in other areas where there are few affordable properties to rent or buy.”
Johnnie Grant of Rothiemurchus, said: “It took nearly ten years of investment and the determination of the members of the Old Sawmill co-operative and the Communities Housing Trust to make this happen – thank you to them. I have always wanted people to have a fair opportunity to bring up their families in the place they call home; I hope that selection for the final will provide the confidence and support for this solution to be repeated both here and elsewhere.”
Lesley McKenna, co-operative member and Old Sawmill resident, said: “We’re really aware how difficult it is as a local person working in this area to find a house and especially to build your own house, but we know it’s possible now. It wasn’t easy and it took a while! But it has worked, and it’s our wish that going through this unwieldy planning process can, and should, make it easier for local residents undertaking such ventures in the future.”
The winners of the Scottish Land & Estates Helping It Happen Awards will be announced in an online ceremony on 27 October 2021.
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.