Work begins on community-owned affordable homes in Raasay

Work begins on community-owned affordable homes in Raasay

Raasay Development Trust director Ali MacInnes marks the start on site (Image: RDT)

Construction work has begun on a community-led development of five homes and five self-build plots in the main village of Inverarish.

Raasay Development Trust is leading the project with support from the Communities Housing Trust.

The development will include two homes for social rent with Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association, and three community-owned homes for affordable rent with Raasay Development Trust. There will also be five affordable self-build plots available, two with Raasay Development Trust and three with the Communities Housing Trust. All the plots will be discounted with the Rural Housing Burden, which assures affordability in perpetuity for the local community.

Raasay has seen a recent increase in demand for affordable housing, with 32 people on the Highland Housing Register waiting list. These new and much-needed homes will prioritise people with a link or need to live on the island.

Work begins on community-owned affordable homes in Raasay

Ali MacInnes with Kenny MacAskill (Image: RDT)

Chair of Raasay Development Trust, Iain Hector Ross, said: “Raasay has a clear and present need for new affordable housing stock to meet the growing demand from young islanders choosing to stay and others wanting to move to the island for increasing work opportunities.

“We are fortunate that the island is enjoying an era of growing economic confidence and opportunity, where young people now see a long-term future for themselves here. Quality housing is vital to support that future and we hope that the delivery of these new homes is just the first step towards providing every young islander with an affordable option.”

The community-owned site was purchased by Raasay Development Trust from North Raasay Sheep Stock Club, with funding from the Scottish Land Fund in 2020.

Further key funding has been provided by the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, and the Ecology Building Society, who may also be able to provide mortgages for the self-build homes.

Work begins on community-owned affordable homes in Raasay

A view from the site (Image: Communities Housing Trust)

Jon Lee, community housing lead at Ecology Building Society, said: “We’re excited once again to work alongside the other funders to support this development on Raasay. Providing funding for affordable, energy efficient, community-led housing and to encourage sustainable self-build particularly chimes with our mission to build a greener society.”

Housing secretary Shona Robison said: “It’s great to see work start on this project on Raasay. Supported by over £1.1 million from the Scottish Government, this project will provide a huge benefit to the local community and make a real and lasting difference to the lives of the new residents.

“We are proud to have delivered over 6,000 affordable homes over the last parliament in rural and island communities. Our Programme for Government includes a commitment to continue to work towards an increased target of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 with at least 10% of these to be in our remote, rural and island communities. This reinforces the importance we place on the role of affordable housing in rural and island communities, with record levels of funding made available and a commitment to publish a Remote, Rural and Islands Housing Action Plan to help attract and retain people in these communities.”

Work begins on community-owned affordable homes in Raasay

Image: Communities Housing Trust

Skye-based James MacQueen Building Contractors began construction work on site this week, and it is expected that the work will be complete in summer 2024.

They said: “We are delighted and proud to be building high quality sustainable, modern homes for the community of Raasay. We use the most up-to-date heating technology in our builds which will help with the cost of living, making these houses even more affordable to run in the long term. It is exciting to deliver this vital energy-efficient housing, providing young islanders and locals the opportunity to stay on the island and help strengthen the community and economy they belong to.”

Ronnie MacRae, CEO of the Communities Housing Trust, said: “This development will provide homes for 10 families and help stop outward migration from the island, as well as helping the school and wider community to thrive. The project has been driven by the community and it’s a milestone for the island. We’d like to thank the Scottish Government for their funding support through which local businesses and the economy can also benefit, and is therefore creating more resilient island communities.”

Dr Audrey Sinclair, chair of Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association, said: “I am delighted that this project will start in Autumn this year. The joint working amongst Raasay Development Trust, Communities Housing Trust and Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association has to be applauded in reaching this stage. It is so important for our communities to achieve their visions and affordable housing has a fundamental part to play in making a positive impact on community sustainment.”

To express interest in the homes or self-build plots, please register your details here.

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