New homes for Eigg islanders after buy-out of former GP surgery land

New homes are to be created on the Isle of Eigg after the community successfully bought over a former GP surgery on the island and its accompanying land.

The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust (EHT), which owns much of the land on the Hebridean outpost, plans to create two new affordable homes on the site.

The community-run organisation has been managing and stewarding development on Eigg, one of the Small Isles, since a historic buyout in 1997.

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Eigg has a small population, numbering around 100 people, but local site conditions and lack of services mean finding new sites to develop is difficult and expensive.

Eigg, one of the Small Isles in the Inner Hebrides, has been owned and run by the local community since a historic buyout in 1997
Eigg, one of the Small Isles in the Inner Hebrides, has been owned and run by the local community since a historic buyout in 1997

The latest move has been welcomed by islanders.

Jonathan Jobson, development officer for EHT, said: “When we knew the GP surgery might be available we got in touch with NHS Highland to discuss whether it might be suitable to convert into a home for someone on our waiting list.

“A site adjoining was then also made available, which meant we could also include a new-build home too.

“This means we will have two new homes, which we will let at an affordable rent to local people and families.”

Sites for new homes on Eigg, which lies to the south of the Isle of Skye and measures under six miles long and three miles wide, are scarce and expensive

EHT has now applied for planning permission for the scheme, and it is hoped work will be able to start to convert the surgery and build the new house in late summer this year.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Rural and Islands Housing Fund have helped fund the feasibility work and acquisition costs.

John MacDonald from the Community Assets team at HIE, said: “Affordable housing has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live.

“The two energy-efficient homes eventually created in this project will go part-way to addressing the need for affordable housing on the island, which is crucial to stabilising and increasing the island’s population and to retain its young people.

“We are very pleased to support this purchase and look forward to seeing the houses developed and lived in.”

NHS Highland worked with the community on the transfer of ownership.

Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s director of public health, said: “Affordable good-quality housing is a vital asset for all communities and it is a significant factor in improvement in health and well-being.

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“We are delighted that the work undertaken to transfer the ownership of the property will help promote the sustainability of the people on Eigg.”

Local MSP Kate Forbes also helped with the project.

She said: “Housing is probably one of the most frequently raised issues with me, showing how important it is.

“Ultimately, a safe, warm and affordable home is the cornerstone of any society and we cannot combat depopulation if there is not enough affordable housing – especially on somewhere like Eigg.

“It is absolutely critical that our young people can stay and return to the island, but to do that they must have access to affordable homes.”

Until 2008 Eigg was off-grid, with diesel generators used to supply power to homes.

But now 24-hour mains electricity is supplied through renewable energy schemes set up through EHT.

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