The Assynt Development Trust (ADT) has been awarded £114,000 to take forward the community-led development of affordable homes and community facilities between Lochinver and Glencanisp. Housing Industry Leaders looks at how this will bring wider opportunities to the area.
ADT received £44,000 from The Highland Council’s Community Regeneration Fund, £50,000 from Crown Estate Scotland, a further £10,000 from The Highland Council, and £10,000 from the Scottish Government’s Rural and Islands Housing Fund.
It will allow ADT to undertake a comprehensive feasibility study and for a design team to develop plans for affordable housing and wider uses on the site.
Around ten affordable homes will be seen in the first phase
Ronnie MacRae, Chief Executive of the Communities Housing Trust, explained that this project is setting the benchmark for other community-led developments in Scotland: “We are extremely pleased to see this crucial project gather momentum. This community-led development will be a flagship for the Lochinver area, meeting a range of needs and also acting as a model for other rural or island communities across Scotland.”
Being responsive to needs and tailoring in this way is absolutely crucial to ensuring ongoing economic and social sustainability of our rural places.
Currently, a group of local organisations is working together to map out the full potential of the site, which will include around 10 affordable homes in the first phase.
Wider site uses may include a path network, enterprise work units, woodland crofts, and education and training facilities. ADT has revealed that a long-term proposal for further affordable housing is being considered.
Nigel Goldie, Chair of ADT, highlighted that the need for more affordable housing has been at the top of ADT’s list of priorities since its inception in 2018: “The Board are excited to now be taking forward this significant development.
“We believe this will be a game changer for housing development in Assynt and create wider opportunities bringing economic and social benefits.”
He continued by expressing that this project is about more than just housing but building a community: “We will be looking for opportunities to bring the benefits of community ownership to the wider community.”
55-acre site highlights vast land availability for housebuilding
The 55-acre site was purchased by the community from the Church of Scotland in 2021 with funds from the Scottish Land Fund.
It follows in 2019 when a housing needs assessment was undertaken by the Communities Housing Trust on behalf of ADT. This assessment showed strong demand for affordable housing for all ages, particularly from businesses requiring accommodation for staff.
With around 27 per cent of housing in the area used as holiday accommodation or second homes according to the 2011 census, the vast majority of the 165 survey respondents believed that people living or working locally should be given priority for homes.