Community Housing Project
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Project Update – 12/7/21
We are still travelling the bumpy road to land ownership at Station Road. After a significant setback in March, we have been negotiating with a third party to acquire the areas needed for the development. A small area of the land in question was bought by Transport Scotland as part of the new road development in 2000 and we are now in the process of purchasing it from them. Fortunately, the Scottish Land Fund have been very flexible and have given us time to complete the sale instead of having to re-apply for our original grant. It has been a major hurdle in the project and we hope it can be resolved soon.
In tandem, our development team and contractor have been trying to gain planning approval for the 6 rental homes to be built. This has also been complex because of the need to have the access road adopted by the Highland Council; drainage, road dimensions and other details were needed and all additional information has been submitted to the planning department. We are awaiting an update on whether it will be approved.
At the moment, there is concern about the cost of building materials across the country and we hope that the silver lining of these delays means that when we come to buying materials, the prices will have stabilised again.
Some further approvals are still needed but we are inching ever closer!
A bumpy road to community land ownership 9/3/21
Having been awarded funds from the Scottish Land Fund in 2019, we have been pursuing the purchase of a 2 acre site for our community housing development. The sellers have always indicated they were willing to sell to us and our legal teams have been working on the details for over 14 months. At the very last moment some new information came to light showing the land boundaries to be different from all the previously examined documents. How frustrating for everyone involved! We now have to acquire an extra area as it will be needed for the new access road. With over £1m in public funds pledged to this project, we really want to make sure it goes ahead and are working hard behind the scenes to get it resolved.
Thankfully, alongside this awkward development, our contractor S&K MacDonald Homes has been working diligently to get planning approval and building warrants in place for the six rental houses to be built. We hope to have more positive news soon.
Thank you to those who have already submitted an expression of interest for the four self-build plots. The demand for houses and building plots in this area is exceptionally high and we hope that all the relevant public bodies will support us in delivering this much needed project.
Funding announcement 8/12/20
ACT are delighted to announce that we have secured a grant of £782,034 from the Rural Housing Fund. This will contribute to about 75% of our total project costs for servicing the site and building six homes for rent.
Project Update 9/11/20
A planning application to the Highland Council has been submitted for the six homes to be built for affordable rent. These will be owned by ACT and managed by the Communities Housing Trust, who will also manage allocations.
There are three blocks, each with a 2-bed and 3-bed house, forming a small courtyard on the South side of the site. A new access road and pavement will be built, joining to Station Road.
Click on the buttons opposite to see the floor plans, elevations, site layout and the design statement.
The houses were designed by Kearney Donald Partnership, Fort William, who were commissioned to carry out the work by S&K MacDonald Homes, of Acharacle.
Back in February, we selected S&K MacDonald as the preferred contractor for this project after a successful tender. Since then, we have been working towards officially awarding the contract to them and the planning application is a major step forward.
We are putting together the final pieces of funding to finance the build of these new homes, along with four self-build plots, which will be sited to the North of the houses.
The four self-build plots did not form part of this planning application; they will be between 0.18-0.2 acres and more details on these will be announced soon.
Pamela King, Project Officer
With funding from the Scottish Land Fund and the Rural Housing Fund, we undertook a feasibility study with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust and Sam Foster Architects to look at an area of land that’s currently for sale for a potential housing project. Between 6 and 12 houses could be developed on the site with a range of tenures to meet local need, identified in our housing needs survey in 2018. Following the feasibility study, we applied to the Scottish Land Fund in 2019 to purchase the plot and were successfully awarded £234,400. This funding will cover the purchase of the land, legal fees and a Project Officer post.
In 2019 we held two open consultation days, in April and June, to gather people’s views and priorities for the project, led by Sam Foster Architects. The design team then came up with some suggested housing and site plans. The final designs will be put together by the contractor undertaking the build and the feedback from the community has formed part of the project brief.
In early 2020 the project went out for tender as a Design & Build. There were three responses and from these we selected our preferred contractor. Over the summer and during the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have worked with the preferred contractor to establish the final designs, site plan and project costs. The last piece of the puzzle is bringing together all our funding, submitting our planning application and formally awarding the contract. At the same time, we have been working to complete the purchase of the housing site at Station Road.
The Communities Housing Trust have continued to partner with us throughout the development and will act as project managers when building works commence.