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Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust can create two much-needed affordable homes having completed the purchase of the former GP surgery and adjoining land.
Eigg, eight miles off the Scottish mainland and home to around 110 people, needs more homes as the population has risen by more than 60 per cent since a community buy out 24 years ago.
The trust owns most of the land on the island but site conditions and a lack of services means finding new development sites can be difficult and expensive.
Jonathan Jobson, its development officer, said: ‘When we knew the GP surgery might be available, we got in touch with NHS Highland to discuss whether it would be suitable to convert into a home for someone on our waiting list.
‘An adjoining site was then also made available which meant we could include a new build home. This means we will have two new homes which we will let at an affordable rent to local people and families.
‘We can’t thank our MSP Kate Forbes, the Rural and Islands Housing Fund, NHS and Highlnads and Islands Enterprise (HIE) enough for all their support.’
Now that the trust owns the properties, it has applied for planning permission and it is hoped work on the new homes will start in late summer.
HIE and the Rural and Islands Housing Fund helped fund feasibility work and acquisition costs.
John MacDonald, of the community assets team at HIE, said: ‘Affordable housing has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live.
‘The two energy-efficient homes eventually created in this project will go part-way to addressing the need for affordable housing on the island, which is crucial to stabilising and increasing the island’s population and to retain its young people.
‘We are pleased to support this purchase and look forward to seeing the houses developed and lived in.’
NHS Highland worked with the community on the transfer and said it recognised the role that safe and secure housing plays in supporting healthy communities.
Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s director of public health, said: ‘We are delighted the work done to transfer ownership of the property will help promote the sustainability of the people on Eigg.’
Kate Forbes said: ‘A safe, warm and affordable home is the cornerstone of any society and we cannot combat depopulation if there is not enough affordable housing – especially on somewhere like Eigg.
‘It is critical our young people can stay and return to the island, but to do that they must have access to affordable homes.
‘I am delighted to see years of hard work by the island trust coming to fruition and how they have worked with HIE and NHS Highland to make this happen.’