Skye housing campaign appeal to Hollywood for support

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A Skye community trust is hoping to enlist the help of Hollywood film-makers to promote its housing and medical centre campaign.

The Staffin Community Trust last week launched the first crowdfunding campaign in Skye to build affordable homes and a new medical clinic.

A four-minute film highlighting the challenges faced by the Staffin community in retaining and attracting families and young people will be released to publicise the campaign, 20 years after the last affordable housing development opened in the community.

And the trust is urging Hollywood film-makers – who have shot big-budget movies such as Macbeth and Prometheus locally in recent years – to support the fundraising drive.

Pop singer Harry Styles’s debut video Sign of the Times was shot near Staffin Slipway and the Storr Lochs last year – and it has now been watched more than half a billion times online.

Portree-based film producer Hugh Campbell shot the film at the new site, in the school, Staffin Stores, Columba 1400 Centre and existing surgery.

SCT development officer Hugh Ross said: ‘The campaign film spells out the challenges faced in progressing this development and the benefits it will deliver. Hopefully, it will persuade viewers to support a community-led project. The trust eagerly looks forward to the day when families move into the homes and the welcome noise of children playing in the gardens can be heard.’

SCT hopes to commence the construction of six three-bedroom family homes, the clinic and business units at a site close to Bun Sgoil Stafainn in early 2020.

The community organisation and its partners, the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association (LSHA), are working hard to reach a target of £46,000 which would be spent directly on construction costs – specifically the foundations for the new houses and the walls and roof of the new clinic. It secured a significant Scottish Land Fund grant in 2018.

The trust stated: ‘There is a chronic shortage of affordable accommodation for younger people and families in Staffin with high property market prices and the community has suffered a significant population decline in the past decade, with the school roll also shrinking.’

SCT and NHS Highland have an agreement about the relocation of the current Staffin surgery to the new site. SCT will then buy the existing surgery – which dates back to the 1950s – so it can be converted into an affordable home. The project also includes a business unit and a workshop base.

Staffin Community Council chairman John MacKenzie said: ‘In the current climate, it is a struggle for many to afford a house in order to stay in our area so these new houses are a necessity in order to get more families into our area to support our school and wider community.

‘The new surgery has long been overdue. The possibility of businesses being able to set up in one of the units means the potential for new jobs for young and old and hopefully a boost to our local economy. Overall, this project can only be a benefit to Staffin – there are no negatives.’