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The lights are now burning brightly in a Skye community, which had suffered alarming depopulation in recent years, as six families have moved into their new homes.
The three-bedroom houses are now fully occupied by the delighted residents of the
Taighean a’ Chaiseil development in Stenscholl, Staffin.
It is the first affordable housing development in Staffin since 1999 and was led by
the Staffin Community Trust (SCT) in response to the falling population and
primary school roll and spiralling house prices, which made it difficult for families
The site, close to the Kilmartin River and a short walking distance from Bun Sgoil
Stafainn, was sold by the Stencholl crofting township and Scottish Ministers to SCT
SCT and its partners, the Communities Housing Trust (CHT) and Lochalsh and Skye
Housing Association (LSHA), delivered the £1.6 million project which includes a
new health centre and business premises.
Around 12 adults and eight children have moved into the new homes. Staffin’s
population had reduced by 40 people (6.6 per cent) from 610 residents to 568
people in just four years, prior to SCT starting the project feasibility back in 2014.
SCT director Donald MacDonald said: ‘It is great to see this project moving towards
completion after many years of hard work by the trust.
‘Unfortunately, this project does not address the underlying issues faced by many young people and families in relation to spiralling property costs, lack of affordable housing and general investment in rural communities.
‘We are grateful for the help we have received from public agencies and The Scottish Government but there is a need to find easier and more effective ways to help those most in need and allow communities to control and have a stronger say in the process.’
New Taighean a’ Chaiseil resident Paul Young added: ‘We’re happy that the children
are in safe walking distance to school. It’s nice that these houses have been built
together in Staffin – it’s in the perfect location for families, giving the children
more independence with being able to walk to school and play with their friends.
‘The houses are very cosy and enjoy an amazing view. We are looking forward to
making our house our home.’
Another new resident, Karen Hutchison, added: ‘I love the wee community feeling
between all the residents. It’s so lovely seeing all the kids popping into each
others’ houses, outside playing and walking to school together.’
The Scottish Government provided over £650,000 through its Rural and Islands Housing Fund and mainstream Affordable Housing Supply Programme which made it possible for the community to take on this ambitious project and deliver six affordable homes.
Skye architects Rural Design worked on the project which was constructed by
island firm, James MacQueen Building Contractors Ltd.
The new community-owned health centre and business premises are due to be
tenanted in March and April by NHS Highland and the local aquaculture company,
Organic Sea Harvest, respectively.
Key funders also included LEADER, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the SSE
Sustainable Development Fund, the Ecology Building Society, the Quaker Housing
Trust and a crowdfunding campaign, plus a guarantor loan from Highland Council.
The homes are a mix of affordable rent, managed by LSHA and SCT, and
discounted sale, managed by CHT, where the affordability is protected in
perpetuity for the local community through the Rural Housing Burden.
People with connections to the area were prioritised as a way to promote the ongoing
sustainability of rural communities.
SCT will use the rental income from the properties to manage and maintain the
new development. It is hoped to organise a formal opening event in early summer.
Dr Audrey Sinclair, LSHA chairwoman, said: ‘I wish to congratulate Staffin
Community Trust and all their partners involved in this unique mixed use and
‘SCT rose admirably to the many challenges from inception to completion of this project and the housing association is so pleased to have played a part in assisting SCT achieve their vision.’