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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig takes ownership of Kilbeg Land

The Chair of the Board of Directors of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO) announced at the College Graduation ceremony on Friday 5 Oct that SMO had now completed the purchase from the Clan Donald Lands Trust (CDLT) of almost 40 acres comprised in the Kilbeg Village Master Plan, and would now act as the lead partner in delivering the proposals.

The Master Plan, Phase 1 of which will involve laying in all the  site servicing and infrastructure for all future development and the first building, is now the subject of a Stage 2 ERDF Application and a bid for HIE and Scottish Government funding support.

The Plan received full Outline Planning consent in April of this year, having gone out to public consultation and with no objections noted. More recently, the Kilbeg Village development gained the enthusiastic endorsement of both the Highland Council and the Scottish Government.

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 Sleat Community Trust, Clan Donald Lands Trust and the Sleat Community Council, create the first new village to be built in the Highlands in more than 100 years.  CDLT deserves great credit for having got this project off the ground in the first place and we look forward to their continued input to the development but the project will now be led by SMO whose own 1996 Millennium Commission proposal for ‘Baile Ùr Ostaig’ foreshadowed the Kilbeg development.”

Mr MacLeod continued“The land purchase has been possible only with the generous assistance of the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust and funds derived, through the Trust, from the Highland Fund and Sir Iain Noble’s Urras na h-Aiseirigh and I pay warm and grateful tribute to all of those.  They will be more tangibly commemorated as the development proceeds.

I would also like to express our gratitude for the enthusiastic backing the project has received from local and national Government alike. The project is taking place at a significant juncture in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s history: 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.  I feel sure they would heartily approve of what is now being proposed”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust Chairman, Donald Mackenzie, commented,“The Trustees of the SMO Development Trust took the view that this really was a ‘not to be missed’ opportunity to engage with a far reaching and historically significant development both for the institution itself and for the wider community and we, as a Trust, are therefore delighted to have been in a position to assist Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in this way”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Principal, Prof Boyd Robertson added, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity which will allow Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to secure its own estate development needs well into the future and inject fresh momentum into the economic regeneration of Sleat spawned by the establishment of SMO in 1973. The population of Sleat has more than doubled and the school population has tripled in the period since the College was founded. Kilbeg can have a transformational impact on Sleat akin to that of SMO itself by providing sports and recreational facilities for the college and the community and by offering opportunities for new commercial development, bringing inward investment, sustaining and creating employment and fostering a supported, entrepreneurial environment for the growth of new businesses and a sustainable community”

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 93 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 development.”

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