The Assynt Development Trust have been approached by Highland Council about the possibility of purchasing some Highland Council owned ground and buildings, through the new Community Asset Transfer process.
The Assynt Development Trust are seeking the views of local residents about how, and if, they would like to see certain sites developed.
The sites which have been raised for consideration are mainly around the Culag area. They include:
– The sites of the large asbestos-clad storage shed and the smaller shed next to it, both behind the Lochinver Mission
– The fenced compound to the east of those sheds (currently used for gas cylinder storage by Mackay’s Hardware, so it could only be developed if there was a suitable alternative site for that purpose)
– The site of the redundant gas storage tanks and old shed base, to the west of the Old Coach House apartments.
– Also, two large quarried areas, one to the west of Assynt Leisure Centre, one beyond the breakwater and pontoons.
The full map of sites being considered is below:
Site (g) is the site of the Lochinver Mission building, which we already occupy under a 50 year ground lease from Highland Council, which we are keen to buy for increased long-term security of tenure and flexibility of use.
We are mindful of the needs of HC Harbours to retain land and buildings for future expansion/change in activities, especially given uncertainties in future harbour use associated with Brexit. We’re also mindful of the needs of community members and businesses who make use of some of the sites at present, or who may be affected by possible future developments of the sites. We are keen to explore the potential for development on sites for community benefits in partnership with HC Harbours and Highland Council.
For some sites, HC ownership is not yet 100% certain. Some sites, HC will likely wish to retain, but may be interested in new development ideas for the sites, which ADT may be able to help progress.
For historical reasons, suitable and accessible land available for development in Assynt is rare, so sites identified here are ones where lateral thinking would be needed to consider the biggest benefits from limited options. Professional planning input would be sought as part of progressing any community ideas further.
If there is sufficient support for ADT progressing further towards actual community purchase of some of the sites through Community Asset Transfer, then the next step will be to seek Scottish Land Fund developmental funding to work up feasibility studies and business plans for those sites.
If this leads to us formally requesting to purchase sites, and if Highland Council then agreed to any of the requests, we would then seek funding (again, mainly from the Scottish Land Fund) for the purchase prices, which may be below market value if we can justify this through community benefits our purchases would bring.
We are seeking views on what community members would like to see happen with these sites in the event that we, Highland Council, or someone else, is able to develop them, or whether you think they should be left as they are.
This is an open consultation and we welcome all ideas, no matter how radical or just plain old common sense.
Some ideas so far for possible uses of some sites:
affordable housing creation (for example perhaps 2-6 units may be feasible on sites (a),(b), (c) and possibly (e) )
affordable business enterprise units
a residential care home or individual residential care units
increased equipment storage for local groups
gardens/allotment space for residents of existing housing
lease to a commercial developer (for example, of the large quarried site (j), which has excellent views and nearby road access, although very exposed to prevailing winds)
Please tell us your views and ideas
phone (844612), post (our letterbox is at the back of Lochinver Mission building, to save price of a stamp if you’re based locally)
or call by our office upstairs at the back of the Lochinver Mission.