May 1st saw a good turn out of local residents at the Scaladale Centre. The Trust is working on a number of initiatives in the area and this was an opportunity to share its plans. A number of staff and directors were present to give details and collect feedback and and concerns.
Projects discussed on the night were:
The Ardvourlie Housing Project – Affordable Homes for rent
Ardvourlie Woodland Observatory
Ardvourlie/Bowglas Mountain Bike Trails
Visitor Facilities/Cafe at the Ardvourlie Woodland car park
Enquiry for land for business use
The meeting was generally very positive about the developments being discussed. It’s acknowledged that the Ardvourlie Woodland is an overlooked community asset that more could be made of.
Funding has been secured for the Woodland Observatory. Work is due to start in July.
The Mountain Bike Trails are still at a Feasibility stage, so work will now need to be done to investigate how it could be funded.
Both developments will bring additional visitors to this quieter corner of Harris. The need for visitor facilities like additional parking was raised as a concern and will be addressed as the projects develop.
It is hoped that these individual initiatives will together make a positive impact on the local economy. Local businesses will benefit from the extra footfall and Harris as a whole will benefit form the redistribution of visitor numbers.
An exciting Monday at NHT today as we welcome our new Ranger,
Michael Hunter to the team. Michael is quickly finding his feet and will be out
and about in community in the coming days and weeks so if you see him be sure to
say hello. Michael can be contacted on email@example.com
We would like to take this opportunity
to welcome Michael and wish him all the best.
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Our Housing Needs Survey has now closed. Thank you to all those that took the time to respond. We received 62 responses, which gives us some good evidence to prove to funders that we need more homes in North Harris and Scalpay.
We want to build on the success of the Scalpay Care Unit project to build homes that will retain young people and families in the community. The survey highlighted the need for starter homes for young people looking to move out of the family home. There were also those with growing families that need more space.
In addition to meeting the needs of the local community, we aim to attract new people to the area. 55% of respondents were from outside the estate, with surveys returned from South Harris and Lewis as well as over the Minch.
One interesting fact was the number of people looking for rental property that had not registered with HHP – the local social landlord. A large portion of these were from the young people looking for first homes. These responses contributed to 60% of surveys requesting 2 bed properties. 20% of preferences were for 3 bed properties.
The survey also highlighted the two big issues facing people looking for housing. The housing market is Harris is limited, with little availability or choice. Secondly, cost is the most common barrier stated. Whilst prices are still low here compared to the mainland, wages are also low meaning that many properties are not affordable to the local community.
The data gained from this survey will now be fed into the Feasibility Study that is underway to develop a number of houses at Ardvourlie. We hope to have the results of that study in April. Should this be favourable, we hope to submit a full bid to the Rural Housing Fund to secure a slice of their £25M for affordable homes in rural Scotland.
It has been a busy week here at NHT so far with our AGM on Monday night and a helicopter deer count taking place across the Estate. Fortunately the weather held out just long enough for us to successfully carry out the count. Thanks are due to PDG Aviation Services and Scottish Natural Heritage for their assistance and expertise in helping us get a good picture size of the Red Deer Herd. Below are a few pictures captured during the flights.
We are now accepting applications for the tenancy of Flat 2 Tigh An Urrais, a 2-bedroom property above our office in Tarbert. The monthly rental for the flat is £273.15 (exclusive of rates and utilities).
Application forms can be downloaded from the link below or obtained from the North Harris Trust office. Completed applications must be returned to the North Harris Trust or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 5pm on Friday 8th March 2019
Over the last few weeks we have been working on a project to draw more people to the woodland at Ardvourlie. The 100ha broadleaf tree plantation was planted as part of the Millenium Forest program some 18 years ago. Despite there being tourist signs on the road next to the Scaladale Centre, the woodland sees very few visitors. With the help of both a university group and local crofter, we have started carrying out routine maintenance on the circular path. Our plan now is to install a building and picnic table, half way round the 60 minute walk.
The Woodland Observatory will sit at an elevated position offering 270 degree views over Loch Seaforth and up the Vigidale valley. Sitting on the existing circular path, the Woodland Observatory will be a signed destination for visitors, allowing them to rest and shelter. They will be able to watch the increasing number of birds in the maturing woodland and learn about the local environment from information panels inside.
The building is currently going through the planning process. More details can be seen HERE with reference 18/00374
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