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Phase 1 of the major new ‘Kilbeg Village Development’, being led by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, commenced this week in Sleat, on the Isle of Skye, as the project contractors, Robertson Construction Northern Ltd, moved on site to begin work on this exciting and visionary new development.

The Kilbeg initiative will result in the creation of the first new ‘planned village’ on Skye, in almost 100 years and is, therefore, of great historical significance. It will also build upon the significant socio-economic impact which the College has had in the region since its founding by Sir Iain Noble in 1973.

 The new village will be formed on land recently purchased by Sabhal Mòr with the generous support of the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust.

Phase 1 of the project will result in the preparation of the site for future phased development along with the laying in of the wider services and infrastructure which will enable the future elements of the Kilbeg Village Master plan to be delivered incrementally over a projected 10-15 year time frame.

Along with the site servicing and infrastructure, Phase 1 will see the building of a new Academic, Research, Knowledge Transfer and Enterprise building which will, in part, house key College staff currently occupying the original Ostaig Steading buildings. This, in turn, will allow for the conservation and future redevelopment of that iconic and historic building, creating a new bespoke conferencing and events facility, a key part of the College’s own estate development strategy.

Future phases of the wider Master plan provide for a range of housing, retail and enterprise units, a small hotel and sports and recreation facilities for Sabhal Mòr and the wider community.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Principal, Prof Boyd Robertson said today,  ‘The construction work now underway gives concrete reality to the vision encapsulated in the Kilbeg Master plan and represents another highly significant milestone in the development of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and Sleat.  The Kilbeg initiative is a partnership between Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Clan Donald Lands Trust and Sleat Community Trust and it will be of great benefit to both the college and the community.  The Kilbeg project will allow the College to expand its facilities and services and will give fresh impetus to the economic and social development progamme pioneered by College founder, Sir Iain Noble, in the early 70s.’

Speaking on behalf of the Scottish Government which has strongly backed the initiative, First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP, said today,

“It’s fantastic that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is now in a position to take this exciting step in what is a visionary project. Investment in projects like Kilbeg is absolutely key for stimulating economic growth throughout Scotland. It’s vital we support opportunities that help create new jobs and apprenticeships, places which, at the same time, support the development and improvement of our rural communities. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig makes an important contribution to the area beyond its obvious tuition and promotion of Gaelic.  Kilbeg will future-proof the university and, along with the local community, create the first new village to be built on the island in more than 100 years”.

 “As many Gaels will attest, Gaelic is more than a language. It is an integral part of the identity and heritage of the Highlands and Islands, and thanks to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, in this anniversary year, Gaelic is as current and relevant today as it was 40, even 400, years ago.”

Stuart Macpherson of HIE which has also backed the project said,

“HIE is delighted to see the project start and looks forward to the economic, social and community impacts being realised for Skye and the wider area.”

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Director of Development Fundraising and the Arts, Donnie Munro, said today,

“This is an exciting moment for Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the wider community and is the culmination of a very intense period of planning and negotiation and is evidence of Sabhal Mòr’s continuing determination to build on the outstanding successes of the last 40 years. The agreed design code for the project will ensure that it will meet the highest environmental and architectural standards, becoming an exemplar of contemporary sustainable rural development’.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Chairman, Sheriff Roddy John MacLeod, commented further,

”In the 40 years of its existence, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has never stood still.  Kilbeg marks the next stage in its development.  But it is also so much more than that.  In that regard, the importance of our partnership with The Clan Donald Trust, whose initiative this originally was, and the Sleat Community Trust, cannot be over-emphasised.  The project is being led by the College but it is a joint initiative which reflects credit on all of those who have helped bring it about.  In that respect, I would like to mention particularly the former Highland Fund, and Urras na h-Aiseirigh, both of which, through their kind donations to the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust, made the purchase of the Kilbeg land possible.  The willing assistance of HIE, the ERDF, Highland Council  and the Scottish Funding Council is also gratefully acknowledged and the project just would not be where it is without the unstinting support of the Scottish Government and the personal commitment of the First Minister.  I thank them all as well, of course, as the members of our own staff and our professional advisers whose immense hard work continues to transform the dream into reality.”

Frank Reid, regional managing director of Robertson, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed as contractor for this highly prestigious and exciting project.  It’s a privilege to be working with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and to be involved in creating what will be a world class development which will help sustain Skye and the Gaelic language.”

Highland Council Leader Drew Hendry said “The Highland Council welcomes this announcement today which marks an important point in the growth of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and is significant for Sleat, Skye and the Highlands. The first new village on Skye for 100 years is a powerful symbol of the regeneration of the area and we are delighted to support this project”.

The Design team for the project, led by Project Manager, Donny MacKinnon of MacKinnon Associates, consists of Architects; Holmes Miller in a partnership with the award winning Skye based Architects, Rural Design, Quantity Surveyors, Currie and Brown, Civil Engineers, Halcrow, Services Engineers, DSSR and CDM Co-ordinator Aecom.

© Sabhal Mòr Ostaig | Design by CGS | Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a Scottish registered charity · No. SC002578