Work starts on pioneering new village in Skye

Work starts on pioneering new village in Skye

Cabinet secretary for education and skills Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP (with spade) joins guests at the start of work

Work on the first new village in Skye in over 100 years begins this week with project partners Sabhal Mòr Ostaig - The National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, the Highland Council and the Communities Housing Trust. 

The community-led project will see 17 new affordable homes built as part of the wider Kilbeg Village development in Sleat: six homes for social rent with the Highland Council as well as eight affordable homes and three discounted self-build plots with the Communities Housing Trust.

The homes will be a mix of discounted rent and sale, and will include family homes, level-access and wheelchair-accessible homes. An adjacent private development by James MacQueen’s Ltd is due to follow shortly after, providing a further 14 flats. 

Around 100 homes in total are expected to be built over time, tackling housing needs for all age groups in the community as well as supporting intergenerational living, cultural community spirit and alleviating social isolation.

Given its proximity to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, it is expected that the development will attract Gaelic speakers or learners of all ages, however, the homes will be open to all with a need to live or work in the area.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig chairman, Angus Macleod said: “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is proud to be spearheading the ambitious Kilbeg project that helps address the chronic need for housing, and aligns with our core aims to support the Gaelic language, culture and local economy.

“This is a great opportunity for those with an affinity to the language and culture to apply to live in accessible, affordable housing in the new Kilbeg community next to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s vibrant campus, where language and culture is shared across generations.”

Work starts on pioneering new village in Skye

The view of Kilbeg from the site (Image credit: Communities Housing Trust)

This next phase follows the Communities Housing Trust’s previous provision of two affordable Rent To Buy homes on the Kilbeg site, now home to two young families.

Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are extremely excited to be part of this ground-breaking community-led project which will also provide bespoke affordable housing for the elderly and promote intergenerational living. The planned development in Kilbeg is unique in Scotland, in that it will provide a model for a mix of ages and tenures, providing opportunities for older people and younger families to support each other which also takes into account the importance of culture and heritage. Repopulating and regenerating the area in this way makes sense, and helps to ensure long-term future sustainability of the community.”

The development has received funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Partnership Programme, the Highland Council, Scottish Funding Council and the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust.

Cabinet secretary for education and skills Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP commented on a visit to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig: “It’s been great to see the hard work that has been going into this development, which will help ensure that Gaelic continues to thrive in this community.

“The Scottish Government recognises the important role that Gaelic has in Scotland’s culture and economy. I look forward to seeing this development grow and the positive impact it will have on local communities in Skye.”

Housing secretary Shona Robison said: “It is fantastic to see work start on this project in Kilbeg. Working with the Communities Housing Trust and The Highland Council and supported by over £1.2 million from the Scottish Government, this project will deliver high quality, affordable homes, that will meet people’s needs and allow them to live independently, whilst remaining in their community.

“These homes will support our commitment to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, of which at least 70% will be for social rent and 10% in remote, rural and island communities.”

The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee chair, Cllr Ken Gowans, said: “Creating a community-led new village in Skye for the first time in over 100 years is pioneering, ambitious and pivotal to the Skye and Raasay Future (SARF) plan. The Kilbeg development has community, heritage and culture at its forefront and this innovative approach to intergenerational community living, could well be a catalyst for other areas across Highland. It’s great that construction can begin at Kilbeg and we look forward to working in close partnership with the Communities Housing Trust and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig throughout the Kilbeg village development.”

The homes will be close to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the local primary school and nursery. Also nearby is the local Medical Centre and GP Practice, Café Ostaig and the local community-owned shop at Armadale, which can be accessed by a local community transport service for the elderly.

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