Happy new homes as Staffin developers roll out the welcome mat

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Six families will open the doors to their new homes this month, after the handover date for an eagerly awaited north Skye community-led housing, health and business project was confirmed.

The three-bedroom homes at Taighean a’ Chaisheil in Stenscholl, Staffin will be completed on Monday January 17.

It comes 23 years after the last affordable housing development opened in Staffin.

James MacQueen Building Contractors Ltd will then complete the new community-owned health centre and two business premises in February.

The £1.6million housing, health and economic development was progressed by Staffin
Community Trust in partnership with the Communities Housing Trust and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association amid concerns about the lack of available accommodation locally for families, a falling pupil roll at Bun Sgoil Stafainn and the declining population.

Around 12 adults and eight children will call Taighean a’ Chaisheil their new home and SCT has paid tribute to the support received, including the Kilmuir Estate the Stenscholl township and the Staffin Community Council, since the project’s inception back in 2014.

SCT director Donald MacDonald said: ‘The board of Urras an Taobh Sear is delighted to be nearing completion on a project that has taken seven years and has, at times, been
fraught with challenges.

‘At a time when we need more community empowerment this project has shown how far we, as a country, are from achieving that.

‘The directors and staff of the trust must be thanked for their determination and diligence in seeing this through when fatigue and burn out could have easily given rise to a different outcome.

‘We wish the new residents many years of happiness within these homes which are an
important step towards community sustainability and growth.’

Ronnie MacRae, CHT chief executive, added: ‘This project is an excellent example of what can be achieved by communities through partnership working and we are delighted to have provided two homes for discounted sale protected by the Rural Housing Burden.

‘Congratulations to SCT which has delivered this mixed development of homes and
amenities that will enable a stronger more resilient Staffin and provide a template and
confidence for many other similar communities to follow.

‘CHT is delighted to have been able to support SCT, and key to success was the support of Scottish Government and Highland Council amongst others which recognised the need to provide a flexible range of affordable housing tenure choice, alongside working with HIE and NHS to provide essential amenities that will improve social and economic opportunities going forward.’

SCT has also  confirmed that local aquaculture company Organic Sea Harvest (OSH), which has two salmon farms in Culnacnoc and Tote and employs 18 people, will be renting the new business premises at Taighean a’ Chaisheil.

The income from the units, health centre and houses will be used by SCT to service a
£140,000 mortgage on the project and surplus generated will be spent on managing and maintaining the new development.

SCT bought the site for £70,000 using a grant from the Scottish Land Fund.

The key project funders also included the Rural Housing Fund, Highlands and Islands
Enterprise, LEADER, the SSE Sustainable Development Fund, the Quaker Housing Trust, Ecology Building Society and a crowdfunding campaign, which raised more than £7,000, with the acclaimed Gaelic singer Alasdair Gillies personally donating £3,000.