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NHT Board Decision on the Proposed Purchase of the Scalpay School Site

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NHT Board Decision on the Proposed Purchase of the Scalpay School Site.

Back in 2014 the Comhairle offered the vacant Scalpay School Site to NHT.  To allow time for NHT to gather information and decide on whether to purchase and develop the site, a short-term lease was signed.  NHT has operated the site under the terms of this lease for nearly four years now.  The buildings have been sublet at a very low rate to 7 local artists, craft producers and builders.  It was always understood that this was a temporary arrangement and last summer the Comhairle made it clear that NHT would need to decide on the purchase by the end of April 2018. 

Whilst administering the site, NHT commissioned a condition report and kept a record of suggestions for site use and requests for space.  More recently a feasibility study was commissioned and a business plan prepared.  During preparation of the business plan the Scalpay Community were invited to contribute ideas and give their views on the school site purchase.

With the information gathered, NHT has seriously considered the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing the Scalpay School site; in terms of its potential social and economic impact on Scalpay and in terms of NHT’s ability to finance, deliver and maintain the development long term.

As the deadline is now upon us, NHT has decided not to go ahead with the purchase of the Scalpay School Site.  This decision was principally based on the following reasoning:

The title deeds show that the ball park area and a strip of land running through the centre of the site are not included in the sale.  This could be resolved, but will take time and additional purchase and legal fees.

The Schoolhouse, which is attached to the main school building, is not included in the sale.  This was always understood, but limits what can be done with the main school building.  For example, the main building cannot be demolished to make way for another development without making good the exposed gable of the Schoolhouse (cost estimated at £200,000).

According to the Condition Survey, the original part of the main building is structurally sound and the canteen is in reasonably good condition, but the extensions to the Main building and the two other outbuildings are in poor condition.  Overall the cost of essential repairs to deal with asbestos and making the buildings weatherproof are estimated at £91,000. To re-wire, insulate and re-decorate would take the estimated bill to over £200,000.

The feasibility study and business plan considered ideas from NHT and the local community including the creation of business space, workshop space, storage, campervan hook-ups, shared/community space and housing.  The preferred option was estimated to cost £1.2million.

Although the business plan demonstrated a scenario whereby the site could generate a small income, this was based on generous grant aid, and high occupancy at high commercial rents.

The funds required to make the buildings safe for use and to carry out urgent repairs are beyond what NHT can fund independently and the prospects of securing the grant aid required to fully refurbish the site are currently bleak.  Even with grants, the contribution required from the Trust would be significant and would impact upon the other the Trust activities.

Apart from the current tenants, there has been limited interest from the wider community regarding the future use of the site and a shortage of ideas that would generate income. Discussions with current and prospective tenants have indicated that few would be willing to take on the higher rents required to make the development sustainable.

NHT believes the option of purchasing the site and doing minimal improvement works is not realistic as the urgent repairs required are expensive and would need to be paid for by higher rents. 

There is already underutilised ‘community space’ within the existing Scalpay Community Centre and NHT would not wish to develop a competing facility.

Issues with the title deeds, poor condition of the buildings, lack of funding and inability to demonstrate that the development will be well used and viable all make purchasing and refurbishing Scalpay School too risky for NHT.  NHT will therefore withdraw from Scalpay School at the end of the current lease, in August 2018.  However, NHT would be interested in collaborating with interested agencies/parties to investigate potential strategies for development at the site.

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Election of Directors

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Election of Directors

There are TWO vacancies for North Harris Trust (NHT) Directors to represent the TARBERT AREA. 

Nominations have been received from the following eligible candidates:


Mr Philip Bertin, 7 Scott Road, Tarbert

Mrs Barbara Mackay, 1 Ardhasaig

Mr Innes Morrison, 6 Amhuinnsuidh


A sealed ballot box is now operating at the NHT Office and members of the North Harris Trust from the TARBERT AREA are invited to come and vote for their preferred candidates.

Members unable to visit the office can appoint another member as a Proxy to vote on their behalf.  (See note below).

The period for eligible voting will end when the ballot box is opened at:

6:00pm on Thursday 22nd February 2018.

There will be a meeting to coincide with the opening of the ballot box at the North Harris Trust Office starting at 5:45pm on Thursday 22nd February 2018.  NHT Members are invited to attend, along with the proposed candidates, to supervise the count.

The candidates with the most votes will be proposed as Directors at the subsequent North Harris Trust AGM to be held on the 26th February 2018, Tigh an Urrais, NHT Office, Tarbert at 7.30pm. 

For further information please contact: Gordon Cumming, Manager, North Harris Trust, Tigh an Urrais, Tarbert, HS3 3DB.  Telephone: 01859 502 222.  Email:



  • A Proxy is a written signed statement giving authorization for another NHT Member to vote on your behalf. A copy of this Proxy must be delivered to the NHT Office at least 24 hours before the vote is placed, to allow for verification.
  • The Tarbert Area extends from Leachkin, in the West, to Croft 1 Tarbert, in the East.



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AGM Notice

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2018 Guided walks programme available

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The 2018 guided walks programme is available here.

The programme features some classic walking routes and speciallity wildlife watching walks. New for this year are “mountain of the month” walks. These walks will showcase the finest of Harris’s mountains. The location of each mountain of the month walk will be published on this website, Facebook and in the Tarbert tourist information, the week before the start of the walk.

Take a look at the programme, there is a walk for all levels of fitness and ability. 


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Applications for 7A & 7B Creag Aonaich Open

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We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the tenancies of the new houses at the former Scalpay Care Unit. 7A & 7B Creag Aonaich are available for rent as from March 2018

7A is an unfurnished three-bedroom semi-detached property over two floors and rental for this property will be £400 per month (not including bills)

7B is an unfurnished two-bedroom semi-detached property over two floors and the rental for this property will be £320 per month. (not including bills)

Each property has its own parking space for 1 car, a small garden area to the back of each property with a washing line. Both properties benefit from air source underfloor heating and a small multifuel stove. The kitchen and living areas in each property are open plan with the main bathroom in each downstairs and the upstairs bedroom benefiting from ensuite facilities. Plans for each property are available to veiw below.

Application forms can be downloaded from the link below or obtained from the North Harris Trust office and completed applications must be returned to Karen MacRae no later than 5pm on Friday 16th February 2018.


NHT Housing application 2017

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Scalpay School Options Drop In Session

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There will be an informal drop in session in the Scalpay Community Centre on Tuesday 16th January between 2:30pm and 7:30pm to give the local community an opportunity to see the initial options that have been identified by the team of consultants for the future of the school complex. It is very important to us that the community have the opportunity to view these initial options and give their feedback so please do go along of you can.

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Scalpay School Public Meeting

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We have recently commissioned consultants to carry out a feasibility study on the potential future uses of the Scalpay School complex. As with all potential NHT projects we want to engage with the local community and get your thoughts and ideas. To facilitate this a public meeting will be held in the Scalpay Community Centre on Monday 20th November at 7:30pm. Representatives from the NHT Board and Staff will be present as well as the consultants carrying out the study. Please do come along. If you are unable to make the meeting but have an idea or comment you would like to make about the future of the school buildings, then please e-mail Karen MacRae



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Community Consultation Meetings – Nov 17

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Refurbishment of the former Scalpay Care Unit

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In October 2016 we approached CNES with a view to purchasing the former Care Unit in Scalpay having leased it from them for a few years as accommodation. With funding assistance from the Scottish Land Fund the purchase was completed in spring 2017. When Scalpay first came into community ownership in 2013 the community were consulted as to what projects they would like to see NHT take forward in Scalpay and the repurpose of the former Care Unit was highlighted as a priority. In the short term it was agreed to lease the building to see what interest there was and for the 3 years we leased the building it was fully occupied. This lead to the decision to purchase and refurbish the building into two semi-detached houses. Funding was secured from LEADER and the Rural Housing Fund and contractors Neil MacKay and Co began work in June this year. The refurbishment is progressing well as you can see from the images below. Once the project is complete we will have a 2 and a 3 bedroom home available for affordable rental. The properties will benefit from underfloor heating, solar panels and a wood burning stove which will significantly reduce heating costs. The houses are due to be complete in January and we will then advertise for tenants. If you would like further information contact Karen on


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Lets get snorkelling

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Following the launch last month of the North Harris Snorkel Trail, a leaflet has been produced to give more information on the six specially-selected sites in North Harris.


Download the leaflet HERE or read up on the Scottish Wildlife Trust and their crusade to get people to experience life below the waves.

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