Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

New year and new homes for families moving into Skye development helping to stem depopulation

The new houses will be ready for occupation next month
The new houses will be ready for occupation next month

Seven years ago, the community of Staffin was facing concerns about its sustainability due to rising house prices and depopulation.

The number of residents had dropped by 6.6% in four years to 568, with a lack of children threatening the future of the local school.

Community-led action since culminates next month when six families turn the key on the door to their new homes.

Twelve adults and eight children are moving into the three-bedroom houses at Taighean a’ Chaisheil in Stenscholl, the first affordable homes to be built in the Skye community for 23 years.

Who developed the project?

Their completion on January 17 will be followed in February by James MacQueen Building Contractors finishing a community-owned health centre and two business premises.

The £1.6million project is the work of Staffin Community Trust (SCT) in partnership with the Communities Housing Trust (CHT) and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association (LSHA).

The initiative is a tribute to determination and partnership working. But also, according to SCT director Donald MacDonald, one fraught with challenges.

He said: “At a time when we need more community empowerment this project has shown how far we, as a country, are from achieving that.

“The directors and staff of the trust must be thanked for their determination and diligence in seeing this through, when fatigue and burnout could have easily given rise to a different outcome.

The project includes the first affordable houses in Staffin in 23 years.

“We wish the new residents many years of happiness within these homes which are an important step towards community sustainability and growth.”

The starting point was a report commissioned by SCT in 2014 that identified the need for new homes to retain and attract families and young people.

Following a housing summit, the site was identified and bought by SCT for £70,000 using a grant from the Scottish Land Fund.

A planning application was approved by Highland Council in 2018.

Work got underway last year.

The development provides a mix of affordable rent and discounted sales, for local families and those with connections to Staffin.

New homes encourage families to stay

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes said: “Years ago, the Staffin Community Trust conducted a study which concluded that depopulation could lead to the village’s primary school having no pupils within a decade.

“Against this backdrop, building new homes to encourage families to stay, and new ones to settle, is vital and I am absolutely delighted these six homes have now been built.

“I understand the houses are designed for new families moving into the area, or to ensure those with existing ties are able to remain.

“The list of people that have expressed an interest demonstrates just how popular new, affordable housing is.

The houses are part of a £1.6 million development

“In order for the Highlands to flourish, we need to encourage people into the area and for that to take place, we need affordable and sustainable housing.”

CHT chief executive Ronnie MacRae says the project is an excellent example of what can be achieved by communities through partnership working.

“Congratulations to SCT who have delivered this mixed development of homes and amenities that will enable a stronger more resilient Staffin and provide a template and confidence for many other similar communities to follow.”

He says key to its success was support from Scottish Government, Highland Council and others who recognised the need to provide a flexible range of affordable housing.

Dr Audrey Sinclair, LSHA chairwoman, said: “The completion of this project is good news on so many levels.

Partnership working can be successful

“It is proof that the tenacity of the Staffin community has paid off.

“It is also an example to other communities that partnership working can be successful in remote and rural areas.”

Key project funders include the Rural Housing Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, LEADER, the SSE Sustainable Development Fund, the Quaker Housing Trust and the Ecology Building Society.

A crowdfunding campaign raised more than £7,000, while Gaelic singer Alasdair Gillies donated £3,000. Highland Council provided a short-term guarantor loan.

Aquaculture firm Organic Sea Harvest, which employs 18 people at two salmon farms, is renting the new business premises.

Staffin health centre under construction

Income from the units, health centre and houses is being used by SCT to service a £140,000 mortgage on the project.

Surplus generated is helping to manage and maintain the new development.

Local councillor John Finlayson congratulated SCT for driving forward the project.

He said: “What can be more relevant than supporting affordable housing for families, healthcare and employment in a rural area?”