Highland Council approves first Staffin affordable homes in 20 years

Looking across to housing site in Stenscholl

Looking across to housing site in Stenscholl

Highland Council has approved plans for six new three-bedroom houses on a common grazing tenanted by the Stenscholl crofting township, the first such development in almost two decades.

The new homes will be delivered by Staffin Community Trust (SCT) in partnership with the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association (LSHA).

Portree-based architect firm Rural Design produced the development design and the Scottish Government’s rural housing fund and the Scottish Land Fund funded the design and feasibility work.

The crofting community has suffered a significant population decline and shrinking primary school roll in recent years. The new homes will be the first built in Staffin since 1999 when the site at the old school was developed.

The new development includes business units and a storage facility, and talks have been held with NHS Highland about the potential relocation of the Staffin Surgery to the site.

SCT chairman Sandy Ogilvie said: “The granting of this planning permission is a significant step in what is a game changing project for the Staffin community. Affordable housing is at the heart of any rural community and this development will kick start future plans to reverse the population decline and build a community with growth, aspiration and stability.”

HSCHT chief executive Ronnie MacRae said: “HSCHT is delighted that SCT has persevered and acquired planning permission for this exciting mixed-use project. The process has been a lengthy one but will now deliver much needed affordable housing through a range of tenures along with other economic and social elements to strengthen the community. SCT is delivering an exemplar project which is demonstrating strong partnership working that will benefit the wider community whilst also leading the way in enacting the benefits of Scottish Government’s new community empowerment initiatives.”

Lachie MacDonald, the LSHA chief executive, said: “We are pleased that real progress is now being made to bring this much needed housing project to reality and we will actively work with all the parties to achieve our mutual objectives”.

SCT has already received several expressions of interest in the new homes. Two of the properties would be owned by SCT, two by HSCHT and two by LSHA.