February 26, 2014
Land Fund awards
Long term plans for the community purchase of a petrol station, a post office and a multi faith community woodland cemetery will all come to fruition thanks to the recent announcement of funding from the Scottish Land Fund. Each of the nine awards offers a fascinating window into some of the issues that these communities have to contend with. None more so than the complex interplay between land, housing, school and sustainability as illustrated by the successful application from Ulva School Community Association on Mull.
Grants totalling £241,000 have been confirmed for Ulva Ferry.
The local development officers working in the Ulva Ferry area have received a massive boost with the confirmation that funding for the post has been extended for three years, until March 2017. This massive vote of confidence from Highlands and Islands Enterprise is testament to the work of Cally Fleming, Alasdair Satchel who have been working together as a job-share and Colin Morrison.
Alasdair has recently stepped down from the post to concentrate on his work in the media and arts world and has been replaced in the interim by Colin Morrison.
The project was inspired by the successful campaign in 2011 by Ulva School Community Association (USCA) to save the school from threat of closure.
The first part of the project was to consult with the local community and to prepare a Community Development Plan based on the priorities identified by residents.
The first element is provision of affordable housing for rental to enable young families to stay in the area – a primary objective to sustain Ulva Primary School.
Thanks to a sympathetic local landowner, a plot of land has been made available for purchase with assistance from the Scottish Land Fund who provided a grant totalling £141,760. As match funding for this, a second plot has been donated free of charge by the same landowner and this will be sold with a Rural Housing Burden to ensure that the house built on it is available at an affordable price in perpetuity.
The grant from Scottish Land Fund includes a revenue element which will cover the cost of a project manager, 3 days per week for two years. The post holder will manage the design, procurement and construction of two, three bedroom houses semi-detached houses on the school plot. These two houses will be offered to local families for rental at an affordable rate.
Helen Leitch, convenor of USCA said “This award is fantastic news. Affordable housing was the highest priority identified in our community planning consultation: in an area with very few houses to let, lack of affordable accommodation has been badly affecting the ability of young folk with families to live and work here. The whole community, with the school at its heart, has been suffering. Financial assistance from the Scottish Land Fund means our plan to build two new homes to offer to families can now be realised. Two new homes may not seem much to some, but will make a huge difference to this area’s future. We can’t wait to get started!”
Mull and Iona Community Trust are supporting USCA in the project, as anchor organisation, MICT will employ the local development officer and project manager and will take on the long term responsibilities of owning and renting the two houses.
Other projects in development include a pontoon development, renewable energy, community transport and a play park, all in line with the community development plan and the long term objective of providing housing and improving employment prospects in the area.