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New Kilbeg Village Development gets the Green Light

EU Funding completes Kilbeg Village Phase1 funding package

The Board of Directors of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI, the National Centre for the Gaelic Language and Culture on the Isle of Skye, was today delighted to welcome the announcement by Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, MSP, of £1.908m of capital funding being allocated to the project through the ERDF European Structural Funds Programme.

The Ministerial announcement was made as part of the Deputy First Minister’s keynote address to the European Structural Funds – Annual Publicity Event & Recognition Awards Ceremony being held at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The funding  completes the  wider £6.7m Phase 1 funding package already secured through support from, the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council, Highland Council and the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust and means that Phase 1  of the visionary, Kilbeg Village Development Project can now begin immediately. The Design team for the project, led by Project Manager, Donny MacKinnon of MacKinnon Associates, consists of Architects, Holmes Miller in a partnership with Skye based, Rural Design, Quantity Surveyors, Currie and Brown, Civil Engineers, Halcrow, Services Engineers, DSSR and CDM Co-ordinator Aecom.

The Master Plan for the new village development received Outline Planning consent in April 2012, having gone out to a full public consultation and with no objections noted.

Phase 1 of the plan will provide development infrastructure and services to the first four acres of the Kilbeg Master Plan site. It will also provide SMO with a new Administration, Research, Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise building which will sustain 20 existing posts and create up to 20 new jobs in the local community, generating an economic benefit of over £400k per annum. The construction of Phase 1 is planned to commence over 15 months from September 2013 with the creation of 50 jobs and earnings into the economy of £1.6m.

This new iconic development will add to the hugely significant impact which Sabhal Mòr has had on the economic and social development of this formerly ‘fragile area’ which, against all trends, has seen its population double over recent years.

In a 2011 independent study into its economic impacts, SMO was found to annually support a total of  138 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) posts in the Highlands and Islands and generating £3.5m for the local economy of which fully £3.1m (89%) is retained in Skye & Lochalsh.

Phase 1 is the essential first stepping-stone to an ambitious redevelopment by SMO of its original Àrainn Ostaig campus into a 40-bedroom conference and training centre proposed for 2018, together with new college and community sports and recreational facilities and up to 75 new housing units across the 20-year timeframe of development at Kilbeg. This future Phase 2 of the conference centre and sports facilities is envisaged to create up to 40 new permanent jobs and an economic benefit of £750k per annum.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Chairman, Sheriff Roddy John MacLeod said today “The Board of Directors is delighted that Sabhal Mòr is now in a position to take this exciting and visionary project forward. It is not every day that an institution gets the opportunity to pursue such an iconic development which will not only future-proof Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s own estate development needs but will also, in partnership with the local community, create the first new village to come into existence in Skye since my own home village of Portnalong  was formed by settlers from Harris and Lewis 100 years ago.

He went on to say, “The project is taking place at a significant juncture in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s history as the first sod will be cut in 2013, the year in which we celebrate our 40th Anniversary. That coincidence is so appropriate since the new village will, in many ways, be an expression of the aims and aspirations of Sir Iain Noble and his founding Trustees, for the Gaelic language to be the stimulus for the economic and social development of the area”. 

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson added, “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has shown vision and innovation from its inception and the ambitious Kilbeg Project is a further manifestation of that. The ERDF funding is hugely significant in that it will enable the College to begin work on translating the vision in the Master Plan into reality. The Kilbeg development will benefit both the College and the community and will inject fresh momentum into the economic regeneration of Sleat, spawned by the establishment of SMO in 1973.”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Director of Development, Fundraising and the Arts, Donnie Munro, said, “This offers the opportunity for SMO to take the lead, in partnership with the local community, in creating a new, vibrant and environmentally sustainable community with Gaelic language at its heart. Kilbeg is a long term project and will develop incrementally over time to provide a wide range of amenity for both the College itself and the wider community. The phased developments contained within the Master Plan make provision for much needed sports and recreational facilities for the area along with, affordable housing, retail and enterprise opportunities, academic and research buildings, conferencing and events facilities, a small hotel and ultimately up to 75 houses. The design code agreed within the context of the Outline Planning Consent has been developed to ensure that the development meets the highest environmental and architectural standards and that Kilbeg becomes an exemplar of contemporary sustainable rural development.”

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