Plans unveiled to repopulate Skye crofting village

Staffin School. Picture: Contributed
Staffin School. Picture: Contributed
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A NEW affordable housing development has been announced for a remote Skye community – the first in 18 years – with an aim to repopulate Staffin village.

A planning application for six new houses on common grazings tenanted by the Stenscholl crofting township in Staffin will now be considered by Highland Council.

A picturesque view of Staffin. Picture: Contributed

A picturesque view of Staffin. Picture: Contributed

It comes after the Staffin community suffered a significant population decline and shrinking primary school roll in recent years.

Staffin Community Trust (SCT) is working in partnership with the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association to deliver the new affordable houses, which would be the first built in Staffin since 1999.

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The development, on land near Staffin Primary School, includes a building for business units and a storage facility. The land is owned by Scottish Ministers.

The project has been designed by Rural Design Architects following a recent community consultation event. Staffin Community Council, which formally made the application for planning permission on behalf of the community, supports the project.

The Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund (RHF) and the Scottish Land Fund have funded the planning and feasibility work. These funding streams are designed to help communities, like Staffin, to help tackle key challenges, such as housing. However, there is only two years left of the RHF and SCT is keen to make the most of the current funding opportunities.

An economic report carried out for SCT last year concluded that Staffin’s population recorded a 6.6 per cent drop, between 2009 and 2013, from 608 residents down to 568 people.

A major affordable housing needs survey on Staffin, which was funded by Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, was published in 2014 and identified the need for new homes to retain and attract families and young people.

Meanwhile, the population of Portree, 17 miles south of Staffin, has had a significant number of affordable homes built in recent years, growing by 11 per cent in the last decade, and some local people from more rural communities, have had no choice but to accept housing in the island’s capital.

MSPs Kate Forbes (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) and David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) support the new Staffin development.

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SCT has already received a number of expressions of interest in the new homes from local families. Two of the properties would be owned by SCT, two by HSCHT and two by LSHA.