We are currently working on Coigach 2040 – our vision for the future from now but back in 2010 our vision was towards 2020 which is approaching fast!
We’ll be looking for views and feedback for Coigach 2040 soon and hope to hold conversations with people in the community and take a good look at where we are now, and where we want to go.
Coigach 2020 … A Vision of Our Future
Our traditional industries of fisheries and crofting are a vital part of our employment, our culture and our landscape. Coigach produce is well renowned for its quality and our musicians and artists are celebrated far and wide. These strengths link into our tourism, and visitors are keen to take up the opportunities to experience our qualities as part of their holiday. Our community enjoys local produce from local businesses, and our shops and local businesses are well supported
Visitor numbers to Coigach are healthy, given the good range of quality accommodation and our mix of visitor attractions and activities. Our visitor season never really ceases as a significant improvement in provision of short stay accommodation encourages local businesses to offer seminars, training /teaching and activity events – and businesses flourish on the back of the additional short stay accommodation in all seasons. Touring visitors can now easily lengthen their stay in Coigach.
Our well established heritage centre offers locals and tourists alike the opportunity to enjoy, learn from and contribute to the fascinating legacy of our social and cultural history.
The availability of additional community housing has encouraged families to settle here, and a healthy mixture of social and private enterprise offer our young people satisfying and varied work opportunities. Improved business infrastructure, good tele-communications and new crofts have added to their opportunities.
The 2010 Coigach and Assynt Living Landscapes (CALL) initiative is encouraging the development of habitats to strengthen local biodiversity. This initiative involving crofters, the community and land owners creates land based employment and training opportunities.
The local primary school is flourishing and our teenagers are encouraged to take advantage of training and apprenticeship opportunities part funded by proceeds from the community wind turbine. Pre-school education and mother and baby groups are provided in the community hall. Our older population are well catered for within our community. Our emergency and health care provision is responsive to local needs.
Highland Council Resources Committee has approved the transfer of Achiltibuie Schoolhouse to the Coigach Community Development Company on terms to be finalised with the Director of Development & Infrastructure.
This good news means we may soon be working with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) to transform the now vacant Achiltibuie Schoolhouse into two flats for rent.
The plan is to lease the building to HSCHT who will oversee redevelopment and manage tenancies. HSCHT have all the expertise and experience to take this project forward and we are very happy with the good working relationship we have with them. Substantial funding is already in place through the Nationwide Foundation (Shelter Empty Homes initiative) and we are optimistic about attracting more to ensure a high standard of redevelopment.
Although HSCHT will be managing the tenancies, CCDC and the community will contribute to the criteria eg. key worker, local connections, working or coming to work in Coigach and/or able to demonstrate social and economic benefit to the area.
Proposals include converting the house into two flats – one downstairs, with access by the front door, and the other upstairs with its own entrance round the back. With the addition of insulation, new wiring and an an energy-efficient heating system the new flats will provide cosy, comfortable homes in the heart of the village.
Piers and Harbours: December 2013
The Appraisal of Options report for Badentarbet and Old Dornie Piers and Harbours has been completed by Wallace Stone and hard copies are available at the hall and post office.
There will be a public meeting on Wednesday 8th January at 7.30pm in the hall, where John Porteous from Wallace Stone will present the report. All welcome.
Coigach Wind Power
For the latest news on Coigach Wind Power Ltd and Coigach Community CIC have a look at this website:
Coigach Wind Power Ltd. was a new community company set up and wholly owned by Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC). Incorporated on 16th December 2011, the current directors are Ann Macleod, Alison Sinclair, Iain Muir, and Steve Husband.
Ann, Iain and Steve are also directors of CCDC and Alison Sinclair, brings a wealth of useful experience and expertise in renewables, engineering, construction and managing complex projects.
Coigach Wind Power Ltd. will now be responsible for all aspects of the community wind power project. In Autumn 2011 Atmos Consulting Ltd were appointed as agent to take the project through to planning. As part of this process, Atmos are holding a PUBLIC EXHIBITION/ OPEN DAY to display their plans on Wednesday 25th January in Coigach Community Hall. There are two sessions: 11am – 3pm, followed by another 5pm – 8pm to allow everyone to come along to view the plans, get an update on progress and discuss it all with the consultant and each other over a cup of tea. We’ll also have some information on other wind projects in Scotland so you can see how other communities are doing and some encouraging figures from the met mast for you to ponder.
If you are pier user, or feel the future of the piers may have an impact on your life please fill in our questionnaire. Just click on this link: Questionnaire Coigach Piers, then print off the questionnaire, fill it in and return it by MONDAY 25TH JUNE to: Julia Campbell or Peter Muir (Local Development Officers), Coigach Community Hall, (Achiltibuie, IV26 2YG) Achiltibuie or Polbain Stores, Achiltibuie Post Office or any of CCDC’s directors: Phil Shaughnessy, Ben Walton, Richard Williams, Ian Macleod (PO), Iain Muir, Nick Clooney, Ann (Ali Beag) Macleod, Linda Macleod or Steve Husband. Unfortunately we’re not sophisticated enought to enable you to fill it in online…yet.
Wallace Stone Consulting Engineers have now carried out a full structural survey of Badentarbet Pier and Old Dornie Pier and Harbour. The results of the survey and this questionnaire will form part of a study of what developments might be possible IF we were to take these facilities into community ownership.
Most regular pier users will be aware of the current problems: largely due to lack of investment and general wear and tear, and we hope, will have some suggestions for improvements. As well as those who use the piers on a regular basis, many others have an interest or are indirectly affected by what happens to them. For instance, access to the Summer Isles is a major tourist attraction to Coigach and kayaking and other water sports are increasingly popular with visitors.
Wallace Stone also plan to hold informal discussions with pier users so that there will be a further opportunity to discuss the current problems; what improvements might be sought and if there is scope for developing the piers and deriving an income from them should they be under community ownership. If it is clear there is a desire to pursue community ownership, and seek the funding required, it’s important that we can demonstrate we have community backing and that you, as a member of the community have the chance to air your views.
For inspiration, you may also like to have a look at what other communities are doing: Carbost Pier www.carbost-pier.org.uk is a good example as and they have documented their developments on the website. If you “like” them on Facebook you can enjoy a regular stream of pictures of cleat fittings, and lots of people in high-vis jackets doing useful and impressive engineering work.
For further information please email Julia Campbell, Local Development Officer email@example.com
This project (Coigach Piers Feasibility Study) is being part-financed by Coigach Community Council, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Summer Isles Enterprises, Coigach Community Development Company and The European Community Highland Leader 2007 – 2012 Programme.
OLD HYDROPONICUM (November 2011)
Monday 21st November 2011
We’d hoped to be celebrating today as 20th November was the official deadline and date for completion of the sale and transfer of the old hydroponicum to Coigach community ownership. Sadly, the current owners exercised their right to withdraw the property from sale so the champagne will have to wait. It’s not all doom and gloom though: our interest will remain on the Land Register so there may still be an opporunity to buy in the future, and it has been a useful experience for us. Working through the Community Right to Buy process, proved that we can work together effectively and with a 93% vote for the proposal to buy in the first place, showed that we have broad community support. So, we’re disappointed but not defeated – and there are plenty of other things to keep us busy: feasibility studies are now underway for the wind turbine and micro-hydro scheme and we hope to have one underway on our piers and harbours early in 2012.
Friday 4th November 2011
On Thursday 3rd November CCDC held an Extraordinary General Meeting to allow our members to vote on two resolutions:
1. The Board of Directors shall have all the necessary powers of the company to proceed with purchase of hte land and buildings of the former Achiltibuie Hydrponicum
2. The Board of Directors shall have the power to negotiate and commit the company to commercial loans as may be necessary in pursuit of the purchase of the land and buildings of the former Achiltibuie Hydroponicum
There were 23 people present, and we received 26 forms of proxy: there was a unanimous vote IN FAVOUR of both resolutions.
Result of Community Ballot 2 August 2011: 93% voted in favour of the CCDC buying the old hydroponicum buildings and site.
We have applied for a loan, a grant and have raised the community’s own contribution.
When CCDC registered the community’s interest (under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act) in the old Hydroponicum building and land, a searching and exacting application process had to be followed.
Below is an extract from the Application showing some of the key questions posed and answers given:
|Q14. Please explain how the proposals of the community body are compatible with furthering the achievement of the sustainable development of the land. The land was at one time a productive croft but has been non-productive for over 20 years since the Achiltibuie Hydroponicum buildings were established there (except for produce grown within the buildings). The ground also contains the ruin of a building important to the community’s heritage from the time of the Highland Clearances – the local tacksman’s house. Under community ownership the land will be put to diverse sustainable use whereas it is currently largely derelict. The old Hydroponicum building is in a dangerous state of disrepair and needs to be at least partly demolished and the remainder made good so it can continue to house the existing, and more, local businesses and community activities. In doing so we will restore the visual amenity which currently reflects poorly on this community within a National Scenic Area. It is proposed to investigate reinstating the tacksman’s house as a heritage centre with the community’s Heritage Group. The community has a major affordable and social housing deficit and sites will be made available to begin to address this. In addition, ground which was once productive may be made available for allotments for those unable to access croft land and wishing to grow produce for their own use or local sale.
|Q15. Please explain how your development proposals–(a) are compatible with furthering the achievement of sustainable development of the community to which this application relates; and(b) how these proposals will offer increasing environmental, social and economic advantage to that community.(a) At a well attended “Have Your Say Day” in 2009, Coigach residents confirmed a number of priorities for community sustainability and development, including: Community-owned housing; workshop units; land for development; developing tourism. (The first two being the top priorities). Community ownership of this property would allow significant inroads to be made. Other community sustainability priorities identified (e.g. piers, renewable energy) will be pursued elsewhere. (b) The old semi-derelict Hydroponicum building houses 3 local businesses, workspace for other businesses, a community boatbuilding project (http://buieboat.wordpress.com) and community storage, none of which is protected by a lease agreement. All this will be secured under community ownership, bringing social and economic advantage. Development of additional workshop/retail space, housing, a heritage centre and allotments will bring further such benefits. Environmental benefits will result from site clean up and redevelopment of the Hydroponicum building. Breaking the land in for allotments will bring social and environmental (biodiversity) benefits.
|Q16. Is the amount of land being acquired sufficient to:(a) further the achievement of the sustainable development of the community? YES/NO(b) support any salmon fishings and mineral rights included? YES/NO/NOT APPLICABLE If YES, please supply details of how that support is to be achieved.If NO, please indicate why this interest should be registered/ re‑registered*. The property is small (1.3ha) but will be sufficient to allow us to begin to tackle some of those issues identified by the community, and is of a modest scale suitable for the newly formed Coigach Community Development Company to cut its teeth on and gain in competence and confidence.Its central location in the community and proximity to the school lends itself to housing and workshop development, as well as for local service businesses and for community activities. Being on the visitor route through the community it is well sited for any retail outlets associated with workshops.
|Q17. Please provide an assessment of any expected impact on any neighbouring communities and on the wider community and, if appropriate, any expected impact on the remainder of the estate to which the land in this application relates. Any impact will be positive, the site currently housing a semi-derelict building and the former croft land over-grown with rank vegetation. This area is renowned for its scenery and visual beauty (comprising a significant part of the Assynt-Coigach National Scenic Area) and tourists drawn to it are vitally important to our economy. The site currently impacts negatively on the community’s greatest asset.The developments will not impact on any commercial provision of the facilities we plan to provide, as none exist.There are no contiguous communities, the next communities being Ullapool (25miles) and Lochinver (19miles). All communities in this area are to a greater or lesser extent dependant on tourism and it is important that we uphold high standards of visual amenity throughout.The property, though privately owned is set in Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Ben More Coigach Estate. SWT is very supportive of the community’s drive towards self-determination and development.
|Q18. Please explain why you consider that granting your application would be in the public interest. Coigach is a remote and fragile community set in an uncompromisingly harsh environment. Though it has a population of ca. 300 there is a dearth of young families to maintain community capacity, diversity and opportunity. Ca.50% of the housing stock are second homes and any houses offered for sale fetch high prices on the holiday home market, certainly beyond the reach of young families wishing to invest their energies here. Lack of workshop facilities compounds this problem. Though there is apparently a lot of undeveloped land it is all tied up in private ownership and crofting tenure.The consequence of all this on the community is: declining social structure; poor housing; ageing demographic; lost economic opportunity; declining local services; a community more dependant on state social support; a less healthy community; a less wealthy community; a less fair community; a weaker community. None of this is in the public interest.If granting this application allows us to acquire the property we shall be able to begin to turn around these damaging trends and begin to build a sustainable, resilient and confident community.
Survey Results 2011