The Western Isles is set for a mini housing boom, with over 200 new properties expected to be developed over the course of the next year.
The islands’ public housing provision is overseen by the Hebridean Housing Partnership, with Western Isles Council having a crucial role in terms of planning and strategy.
A crucial milestone in the current plans will come next week, with planning expected to be granted for a 128-house scheme on farmland in Stornoway, a development which will also incorporate a £16 million new care home.
The housing investment comes on the back of a Scottish Government package of assistance worth £25 million.
Council director of communities Calum Iain MacIver said: “Over the last year we have been working with communities from Ness in the north of the islands to Barra in the south to identify sites and we now have that. The priority now is to get these projects through planning and we hope to see a lot of work happening on the ground over the course of the next year.”
Other than the 128 properties proposed for Goathill Farm in Stornoway, planning permission will also be sought for 10 new houses in Balivanich, eight in Tarbert, 10 in Breasclete and four in Horgabost.
Further discussions are also taking place with local grazing committees in a bid to identify more suitable housing sites, which it is hoped will act as a spur in revitalising some of the more outlying communities that suffer from depopulation and a lack of a working age population.
Housing and communities committee chair, councillor Kenny John MacLeod said: “The biggest difficulty in the more rural parts is getting access to land in the first place. The regulations surrounding crofting legislation are complex and take time to work through, so the quicker we can identify sites the quicker we can start working on them.
“There are challenges with economies of scale in the rural areas for certain — everything costs a bit more — but we know that in these communities we have an elderly population and we are keen to build houses to help attract young families and couples to these rural parts.”