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Community works with fish farm to bring housing to small island

Empty white sandy beach near the Strand on the Hebridean Island of Colonsay in Summer with the Island and Paps of Jura on the horizon.
Empty white sandy beach near the Strand on the Hebridean Island of Colonsay in Summer with the Island and Paps of Jura on the horizon.

A partnership between the community and a local fish farm is helping to provide housing on a remote island.

Colonsay is one of the smallest islands in the Hebrides with a population of 135.

Argyll and Bute Council’s planning committee today agreed to a masterplan for up to 12 homes on the island. The site is on land west of Hazel Cottage at Scalasaig, the main village and ferry port.

Applicant Colonsay Community Development Company is working alongside local employer MOWI.

The committee heard that the masterplan has 12 residential units, six to be retained by the applicant, three self build plots and three houses of multiple occupation – to be used to provide accommodation for fish farm workers.

The self build plots are designed for detached properties and the details will be considered separately.

Colonsay ferry terminal

Planning officer David Love said: “This is a partnership between MOWI and Colonsay Community Development Company. Officers are excited about it and we recommend members endorse the masterplan.

“The proposal is a partnership approach by the fish farm operator and the community to address a long standing problem of a lack of housing on the island. Both organisations intend to retain control of their units. The finer method of this is yet to be determined but can be secured through suspensive planning conditions.

“It is likely to take the form of MOWI retaining complete ownership of the Houses of Multiple Occupancy with the CCDC likely offering a shared ownership scheme. Such an approach has been achieved elsewhere on the isle of Muck.”

No objections were received to providing homes on the site, which is currently open grazing land.

Councillor Rory Colville said: “The fish farm has struggled to find accommodation and this is a really good example of the community and private enterprise working together. I have no objections to this at all.”

While Councillor Alastair Redman added: “There is a need for housing, particularly amongst the younger generation. Lets move this along.”

The masterplan was unanimously agreed to by the committee.

The Scottish Land Fund awarded Colonsay Community Development Company £390,000 to purchase the land on which to build much-needed affordable homes.

Mowi’s site off Colonsay is one of the most isolated and exposed salmon net pen farms in the world.

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