Re­launch of va­cant units to boost is­lands

Premises on South Uist have lain empty for decades

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - LOCAL NEWS - BY MICHELLE HEN­DER­SON

Busi­nesses in the north are be­ing urged to in­vest in a fu­ture in the West­ern Isles as part of a drive to re­gen­er­ate the econ­omy of Lochbois­dale.

Lo­cal agen­cies across the High­lands are re­launch­ing a se­ries of empty com­mer­cial units in the South Uist vil­lage, which have re­mained va­cant for sev­eral years, as part of an am­bi­tion to make the lo­cal com­mu­nity a bet­ter place to live, work and visit.

A to­tal of nine units are avail­able, vary­ing in size from 430sqft to 1,370sqft, with rents on of­fer from £60 per week.

In an at­tempt to en­cour­age busi­nesses to the area, or­gan­i­sa­tions from across the High­lands have now come to­gether, 20 years on, to of­fer a range of dis­counts and a joinedup sup­port pack­age for po­ten­tial busi­nesses.

Coun­cil­lor Iain Archie Macneil, for Barra, Vater­say, Eriskay and South Uist, wel­comed the drive, say­ing: “They have lain empty for years. There were a cou­ple that were be­ing used, but the ma­jor­ity of them were empty. The po­lice were also us­ing one and a cou­ple of shops at one time but they all closed.

“I wel­come this and I hope that it helps to re­gen­er­ate Lochbois­dale and the lo­cal econ­omy and all the units get used up.”

The units were built as part of a phased des­ig­nand-build devel­op­ment in the 1990s and 2000s with the sup­port of the He­bridean Hous­ing Part­ner­ship and High­land and Is­lands En­ter­prise, to help re­gen­er­ate the vil­lage and the wider com­mu­nity of Uist.

They were cre­ated prior to the £10mil­lion har­bour devel­op­ment com­pleted by Storas Uib­hist in 2015.

A spokesman from Storas Uib­hist said: “Storas Uib­hist is proud to be sup­port­ing the ini­tia­tive to re­vi­talise the com­mer­cial units in Lochbois­dale vil­lage. The at­trac­tion of new busi­ness into the units will bring much-needed ameni­ties and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to lo­cal res­i­dents.

“Af­ter the suc­cess­ful devel­op­ment of Lochbois­dale har­bour, Storas Uib­hist views the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of the re­tail econ­omy of Lochbois­dale as a key com­po­nent in our on­go­ing ef­forts, and those of our part­ners in the Re­gen­er­a­tion Group, to im­prove the so­cial and eco­nomic well­be­ing of Lochbois­dale and of the es­tate as a whole.”

Rachel Macken­zie, area man­ager at High­lands and Is­lands En­ter­prise in the Outer He­brides, said: “We wel­come this great new ini­tia­tive by the com­mer­cial sec­tor.

“It ties in very well with the de­vel­op­ments at Lochbois­dale har­bour which now pro­vides ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties for a range of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing serv­ing the grow­ing marine tourism in­dus­try, lo­cal fish­ing fleet and aqua­cul­ture.”

“They’ve lain empty for years but I hope all the units get used”

Iain Archie Macneil

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