Colonsay launches £25,000 crowdfunder for affordable homes

Colonsay launches £25,000 crowdfunder for affordable homes

Residents of the Isle of Colonsay have launched a crowdfunding to raise £25,000 towards the costs of building community-owned affordable homes on the island.

Island residents hope the campaign will gather enough support and funds to help them build four new homes to rent out long-term and keep their fragile community alive.

With a population of just 130 and the school roll about to drop to just four children, this development is a huge undertaking for such a tiny island, but is crucial, according to Caitlin McNeill who started the crowdfunder.

There have already been more than 20 expressions of interest in the houses. The overall cost of building each home will be £220,000.

The initial plans at Scalascaig also include two houses for low-cost home ownership and three discounted self-build plots to help invigorate the community, The Oban Times reports. 

The appeal runs until March 9 and can be found here.

Ms McNeill said: “Like many other rural communities, our resident population has decreased significantly over the last century.

“Our demographic is unsustainable. We have come critically close to losing some of our lifeline services due to the lack of working-age islanders.

“We are at breaking point and we have to make a change.”

Colonsay Community Development Company is driving the home-building project. Out of 130 residents, there are fewer than 30 people under 50, fewer than 10 people aged between 18 and 30 and currently eight children in the primary school.

She added: “There are many factors that have led to the decrease in our working-age population but the main thing that has been identified, time and time again, by community surveys and speaking to our young people is the lack of affordable, secure housing on the island.

“There are currently nine social housing units and only a handful of private rentals on the island.”

More than 40% of homes on Colonsay are holiday homes or self-catering holiday accommodation.

Ms McNiell said: “Homes regularly sell - often unadvertised - for well above the council or Scottish average meaning young people and families on average incomes are priced out of the local property market. There is no shortage of people who would like to live here but the harsh reality is that, for most of us, it is just not an option.’

She added that there are young families with babies and toddlers living in caravans and insecure short-term lets with some families, elderly residents and many key workers struggling in substandard housing over long, wild winters.

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