New homes needed fast to stop de­pop­u­la­tion

The Oban Times - - News -

PLANS for ‘ur­gently needed’ af­ford­able homes on Skye have been lodged with the High­land Coun­cil.

A plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion seek­ing con­sent to build six new three-bed­room homes in Staf­fin is be­ing con­sid­ered by the lo­cal author­ity.

This will be the first hous­ing de­vel­op­ment on the north of the is­land in 18 years, and comes fol­low­ing a sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tion de­cline and shrink­ing pri­mary school roll in Staf­fin.

An eco­nomic re­port by the Staf­fin Com­mu­nity Trust (SCT) last year showed a 6.6 per cent drop in pop­u­la­tion be­tween 2009 and 2013, from 608 res­i­dents to 568.

The coun­cil and High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise con­ducted a ma­jor af­ford­able hous­ing needs sur­vey in the area which iden­ti­fied new homes as a way to re­tain and at­tract fam­i­lies and young peo­ple.

Mean­while, the pop­u­la­tion in Portree, 17 miles south of Staf­fin, has seen a growth of 11 per cent in the past decade fol­low­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of af­ford­able homes be­ing built.

SCT has al­ready re­ceived a num­ber of ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est in the new homes from fam­i­lies.

The six houses would be set on com­mon graz­ings ten­anted by the Sten­scholl croft­ing town­ship in Staf­fin.

SCT is work­ing in part­ner­ship with the High­lands Small Com­mu­ni­ties Hous­ing Trust and Lochalsh and Skye Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion to de­liver the new prop­er­ties, which would be the first built in Staf­fin since 1999.

De­vel­op­ment of the land near Staf­fin Pri­mary School would in­clude a build­ing for busi­ness units and a stor­age fa­cil­ity.

Plans were de­signed by Ru­ral De­sign Ar­chi­tects fol­low­ing a com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion event, and sub­mit­ted by the com­mu­nity coun­cil on be­half of res­i­dents.

Fea­si­bil­ity work and plan­ning was funded by the Scottish Gov­ern­ment’s Ru­ral Hous­ing Fund (RHF) and the Scottish Land Fund, which are de­signed to help com­mu­ni­ties tackle chal­lenges like hous­ing.

MSPs Kate Forbes, for Skye, Lochaber and Bade­noch, and David Ste­wart, High­lands and Is­lands, have ex­pressed sup­port for the de­vel­op­ment.

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