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New homes at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig the product of culture and construction

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.

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.”

Funding assistance towards the £6.2m cost of the work done to date at Kilbeg had been provided by the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Government, the European Regional Development Fund (Convergence) of the European Union, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Highland Council and the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust which incorporates the former Highland Fund and Urras na h-Aiseirigh.

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