The provision of affordable housing in the Staffin area is viewed as crucial by Staffin Community Trust (SCT) if the goal of retaining our younger people and attracting families to move into the community is to be achieved. SCT signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in October 2016 with two respected housing bodies to work together and progress plans for a six-unit development, which could also provide space for local businesses. More information here: http://staffin-trust.co.uk/staffin-community-trust-makes-progress-on-affordable-housing-development
SCT has worked closely for three years with the Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association (LSHA) and the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) on this project.
The last affordable housing built in Staffin was on the site of the old primary school in 1999. Since then there has been widespread disappointment in Staffin as the construction of affordable housing in Skye has been heavily concentrated in more densely populated communities like Portree and Broadford, which has not helped with the retention of young people and other rural districts on the island.
SCT learned in 2016 – through an economic study for its Ceumannan II project by Highland economist Steve Westbrook – that Staffin’s population had plummeted by 40 people, from 608 residents to 568 individuals, between 2009 and 2013, a drop of 6.6 per cent. Meanwhile, Portree, which has had significant housing developments built in recent years, has seen its population grew by 11 per cent in the last decade.
The SCT is working hard to create brighter economic conditions and sustainable development through its various projects but believes the availability of local accommodation is fundamentally linked to these objectives.
The SCT is developing ambitious projects but the shortage of housing stock will become a focal point if the future growth of Staffin is to be achieved. It is our belief that public sector organisations should be addressing the housing need in Staffin, which is categorised as an economically fragile area, as a matter of urgency.
The SCT has set an achievable target that at least 10 new affordable homes are buiIt in Staffin by 2020. It hopes that could help increase the Staffin Primary School roll by another 10 pupils.
On behalf of the SCT, the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) submitted a major report on affordable housing needs in Staffin in summer 2014 which identified there was a need for accommodation in the district.
To read the report click here: Staffin Housing Needs Report
The SCT would like to thank Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise who funded the report and HSCHT for its work, as well as the key role played by former development officer Marion Beaton.
Since that report was published and shared with Staffin Community Council, local residents and businesses there was a specially convened meeting about the housing situation in September 2014. That was attended by community council representatives, Highland Council, the Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association and HSCHT. It was decided that a local “Call for Sites” would be issued by the SCT in Staffin asking the community, including local residents and crofting townships, for suggestions on land which might be suitable for new housing. That yielded several sites by the November 2014 deadline.
The SCT sought support and advice from the council’s planning service, the LSHA, HSCHT and Scottish Natural Heritage to assess the various locations proposed.
The SCT board of directors subsequently proposed several suitable sites for the council’s West Highland and Islands Local Plan’s own “Call for Sites” after considering the advice from the respective public agencies.
SCT had investigated a site on flat ground past Staffin Primary School, on the Stenscholl Common Grazing, and came to a view that the location was its preferred option. It offers good access to the school, shops and services in Staffin and is on poor grazing – not good quality in by land. The township, in principle, supports the SCT’s plan.
A site investigation was carried out in November 2015 and several test pits were dug and the area assessed by a structural engineer. The indications are that it is a suitable site for a development. SCT is now working hard to progress the proposed location and secure the funding required to work up a sensitive design and planning application in the coming months.
The Stenscholl housing site is supported, in principle, by:
- The crofting tenants (Stenscholl township)
- The landlord (Scottish Government Rural Inspections and Food Directorate)
- Staffin Community Council
- The Crofting Commission
- Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust
- Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association
- Kate Forbes Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP
- David Stewart Highland regional MSP
- Dave Thompson, former MSP
- Community Land Scotland
- Development Trusts Association Scotland
To access the Morandum of Agreement between SCT, HSCHT and LSHA, click here: