Affordable? More space for kids? Somewhere to downsize? Green? Cheap and easy to heat? Accessible? Close to family? Handy for work? What matters to you?
Our Housing Needs Survey is now live on the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) website – link below so read on…..
Please fill it in – even if you are not in need of housing yourself right now, there are people in the community who are and it will strengthen our case for funding and support from other organisations who can help us. And there is an opportunity in the survey to add comment for future needs…perhaps you would like a different kind of home at a later stage in your life? Or maybe you have family who want to move here?
Housing has been a community priority for some years and now the wind turbine is up and running we are in a better position to take things forward on behalf of the community. We are currently looking at a couple of land options and with income from the turbine to use as match-funding to access bigger funding pots, we are hoping affordable housing for Coigach will be a reality within the next five years.
We are working with HSCHT who have expertise in this area and who have completed many successful housing projects throughout the Highlands and Islands. HSCHT have devised this housing survey so we can gather the evidence and information required to make informed plans for the future.
YOUR INPUT IS VERY VALUABLE so please fill in the survey by following this link:
If you know someone who wants to fill in the survey but doesn’t have access to the internet, please help them or put them in touch with us so we can help. We are here in the office as a rule Mondays and Tuesdays, in the hall lounge Wednesdays and sometimes Thursdays. We are flexible though and can be here or visit you on request!
AND there’s a prize…. one lucky survey-completer will win £25 to treat themselves!! The survey takes about 10 – 15 minutes to complete and you need to complete the survey by the end of February to be entered into the prize draw.
Thanks in advance!
Julia Campbell and Donald Macleod, Local Development Officers
Season’s Greetings from our new office! CCDC now has a base in Coigach Community Hall so you can visit us in our new quarters in the Community Room (except Wednesday mornings when we make way for the doctor’s waiting room).
As this is the season of goodwill and giving, we are delighted to announce that the Community Fund is open and money is flowing into the community! Under our Small Grants Fund for Organisations (up to £5k) we have already supported:
Coigach Community Hall for a new and exciting activities programme – check out what’s on!
Achiltibuie Primary School with £5000 funding towards the purchase of new playground equipment.
North West Highlands Geopark which has been awarded £1660 for signage to encourage people to visit Coigach and its remarkable Geology.
Through our Supporting Children and Young People Fund we have given grants for varied purposes including university open day visits, musical instruments and driving lessons. This fund is to enable Coigach youngsters to access activities or obtain equipment that will support their development.
We have also distributed funds through our Education and Training Bursaries Fundfor training courses and further education – including driving lessons for adults; and the Wellbeing Fundis there to support people in Coigach to participate in a range of arts, cultural and natural heritage, leisure and recreations and scientific events, non-certificated/informal life-long learning courses and activities. We are also pleased to be supporting Christine McCallum’s plans for a community open day in the new year with advice and information for everyone, especially senior citizens on matters such as power of attorney, living wills, advance planning and personal wishes. Keep an eye on the Ullapool News for further developments!
And for our youngest citizens we have the Coigach Baby Fund– a gift to all new babies to welcome them to the community – and this year we were thrilled to be able to present this to three bouncing recipients!
If you would like know more about how our grants could benefit you please get in touch.
Housing Needs Survey. Our fledgling Housing Working Group met in October and enjoyed an informative presentation and discussion with Morven Taylor of Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust. The group will shortly be circulating a housing needs survey as the next step towards establishing some community owned housing in Coigach. We are moving forward with a croft we have been offered for this purpose and are looking at other possible sites. If you would like to be involved in the Housing Working Group – either as someone who needs housing, or a supporter please get in touch. And if you have any land you could offer at reasonable price then we’d love to hear from you!
New Development Plan. When we wrote our original development plan, we had a vision for 2020 and various projects the community wanted us to work on. With 2019 nearly here, it’s time to review it and look at the next 10 years. As part of that process we’d like to speak to people in the community and we are holding a community drop in event and Burns Lunch on Saturday 19thJanuary in Coigach Community Hall. The lunch is being organised by Achiltibuie Primary School to raise funds for their new playground equipment so we hope you will support that and share your tuppence-worth with us on your thoughts for the future.
Acheninver Path. As part of the Coigach Assynt Living Landscape project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we have planning permission to improve the Acheninver path – down the Hostel Burn, along the beach and up again to re-join the road, forming an attractive route. The work will involve repairing erosion, culverts and ditching and waymarking to improve access. We have just reached another milestone as a project manager has been appointed to oversee the groundwork and see it through to completion.
New Directors: Following our AGM we are delighted to welcome Seumas Hitchings as a brand new director and to welcome back Ben Walton. We’d like to thank Steve Husband and Alison Macleod (who stepped down this year) for all their contributions to CCDC. There is still space on the board though if you would like to get involved! If you would like to know more or volunteer don’t hesitate to contact us.
One of Coigach’s youngest residents enjoys today’s sunshine – and is one of the first recipients of a gift from CCDC to all new babies in Coigach. Every Coigach baby will receive £250 which their parents can use to invest on their baby’s behalf, buy equipment or use to help with all the household expenses that come with a new baby. Welcome Baby B! It’s lovely to meet you!
A great moment – the signing of the first cheque going out as a grant from our Community Fund. The cheque for £5000 goes to Coigach Community Trust who run Coigach Community Hall. This will enable The Hall to offer a pilot programme of events and activities designed to appeal to all sections of the community – arts, sports, heritage to name but a few aspects of the project. Sandy Murdoch will be co-ordinating the programme, and CCDC wishes the project every success and looks forward to seeing the results!
As a result of the income generated by our wind turbine, Varuna, we are delighted to announce the opening of four funds for applications from people living in Coigach and from organisations operating in our community. We’re looking forward to applications!
The Fund is open for applications from any adults (aged 16+) of the community of Coigach who wish to develop their skills and who are undertaking courses delivered by accredited organisations and recognised training providers. This includes prospective and current students at colleges or universities, apprentices, and any adults wanting to undertake further training/ skills development.
Bursaries are for a maximum of £500.00 per applicant per financial year for those aged 16+ – but no more than £1,500.00 in any 5-year period.
This Fund is open to support individuals (aged 16+) living in Coigach to participate (including to perform) in a range of arts, cultural and natural heritage, leisure and recreational, and scientific events, non-certificated/informal lifelong learning courses and activities. Awards are for a maximum of £500.00 per applicant per financial year – but no more than £1,500.00 in any 5-year period.
This Fund is open to support children from birth to the time that they, as young people, exit secondary education. Note that this Fund is for individuals to enable them to access activities or obtain equipment that will support their development. Awards are for a maximum of £500.00 per applicant per financial year – but no more than £1,500.00 in any 5-year period.
CCDC Small Grant (up to £5,000) Fund for Organisations
This fund is open to organisations (voluntary bodies, school etc.) that want to apply for funding for a project which meets one of CCDC’s wide-ranging charitable objects (too many to list here) and which will benefit the community of Coigach.
Coigach Turbine Bond Offer Our bond offer through Triodos has been fully subscribed: We have raised £1.75 million through the issue of bonds in Coigach Community CIC with the assistance of Triodos Bank’s Crowdfunding Platform. We took the decision to refinance for 3 reasons. Firstly, the Loans we had did not pay off the whole borrowing, so we would have had to refinance sometime. Secondly, we were able to half the interest rate, significantly increasing the community contribution, and finally, by combining everything into one loan we were able to smooth the Community Contributions. A big thank you to everyone who supported the Triodos Bond offer.
The Community Contribution by our wind turbine in its first year of operation was £67k. The actual Donation from our turbine company (Coigach Community CIC) was £88k but £21k was used to pay half of CCDC’s overheads for the current year and pay off some legacy costs. Over the life of the turbine project we anticipate Community Contributions of about £4m, maybe more if inflation is kind to the project. Over the next 12 years while we are paying back our loans, the payments to the community will average around £100k per annum. However, the amounts each year fluctuate depending on whether there are loan principle payments or not, and the size of the principle repayments. Once the loans are paid off the amounts increase significantly to averaging almost £400k per annum.This increase is the effect of not having Loan re-payments and the effect of inflation significantly increasing our income disproportionally to our costs.
A significant proportion of this money will need to be used to advance the priorities identified by our community and incorporated with our Development Plan. These include: affordable housing; local infrastructure; tourism; our environment; heritage and culture. It’s always been envisaged that some of the income would be used to support organisations active in our community. As our first step to use the funds, we propose to launch, very shortly, a small grants fund to which organisations can submit bids. We are currently finalising the process for application. The process being implemented has evolved in part from a study visit three of our directors took to Orkney to see how similar development trusts in these islands operate their grant-giving schemes. Our envoys returned with some very useful information which we are now using as the basis for establishing our processes.
Pier Pressure Challenges at Old Dornie continue (the pier is unusable at low tide, parking and storage is limited, there is no water, power or mobile signal and the fuel facility has been out of action recently) and with increased activity there due to the loss of Badentarbet Pier and, more positively, developments on Tanera, we have been looking at options for the future. Earlier this year CCDC secured HIE funding to commission AECOM Ltd to create drawings and associated costings for extending the “new” pier at Old Dornie. We now need to consider the viable options: Highland Council have made it clear they will not be investing so community-ownership may be the way to secure its future. We have had helpful discussions with Cllr Ian Cockburn regarding potential asset transfer, deregulation and other issues but the way ahead is by no means straightforward!
Affordable Housingis a priority in this community! Achiltibuie Schoolhouse is now complete, and with tenants in both flats is buzzing with life. What next? We still need more homes so people can live and work in Coigach and we are following up the offer of land from a generous local crofter. We are looking for people to join our housing working group so we can move things along and get some homes built! We are taking advice from our friends Highland Small Communities Trust and we are arranging a date for Morven Taylor their Communities Co-ordinator to visit and advise the group further. If you need an affordable home in Coigach or know someone who is, or would like to be involved and find out more please get in touch.
Crofting and Rural Projects Coordinator – maximising the opportunities available to crofters Abigail Anne has moved from CCDC to take up this exciting new post. She tells us: “The aims of my post will be to provide practical training events and sharing of knowledge, getting appropriate advice and support for crofters. Two demonstration crofts across Coigach & Assynt will be established. The purpose of these crofts is to encourage croft land management and diversification through, for example, drainage, fencing, reseeding, bracken & rush control, stone dyke repairs, fuelwood establishment, community/croft orchards, horticulture and tourism provision. We will prepare a development plan for each demonstration croft and implement the plan, in part, through practical training events for the crofting community. One might envisage, for example, diversification into horticultural production, and we would hold a training event necessitated by this.
We will be looking for enthusiastic and forward-looking crofters to take up the training croft opportunity and the croft selection will be done in a competitive and transparent way. Croft development will be guided by an agreed plan and implemented by a combination of training event, the crofter him/herself, a development budget, and funding through CCAGS and SRDP or their replacements.”
‘The Soil Beneath Our Feet’,collected music & tales of Coigach & Assynt EP using three young, local musicians has officially been launched at the Manran gig in Achiltibuie at the beginning of June. It had a second launch at the Assynt Crofters’ Trust celebration in July.
AcheninverActivity at Acheninver Hostel will continue as improvements take place with the upgrading of the Acheninver path beginning in a few months.
Tanera Mor Rich Williams writes: “An open day for local residents and visitors was held on Saturday 2ndJune to celebrate a year of Ian and Saffron Wace’s ownership and to provide a chance for locals to come and view the works that have taken place and plans for the next phases. The glorious run of weather held and a great day was had by all with in excess of 400 people making the journey over to Tanera to see the progress.
Visitors were greeted by Ian, Saffron and the Tanera Restoration Project team and treated to a range of different local culinary delights and drinks. It was great to see so many former Tanera residents come over for the day and for such wide enthusiasm and excitement for this major ongoing project which promises to leave a very special and lasting legacy on the Island for future generations to enjoy.”
New Job Share Partner with Abigail Anne leaving, CCDC moved to recruit a new job share partner for Julia.Donald Macleod, who lives in Altandhu, was appointed and has begun to learn about all the various aspects of the work. For the last 22 years Donald has worked as a freelance project research and development consultant principally in Highland. Much of his work has had to do with issues around health, social care, and addressing poverty.
We have reached our target of raising £1.75m through Triodos Bank’s crowdfunding platform which means we can now re-finance the turbine, saving a projected £380k in interest payments to our original lender and more money for Coigach!
From the turbine’s first year of operation, we now have £67k available for use in Coigach. We are developing our funding application processes following advice and ideas from others in similar situations. Earlier this year, directors Phil Shaughnessy, Steve Husband and Iain Muir made a study visit to Orkney where they had very helpful conversations with representatives of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre, Westray and Shapinsay Development Trusts who have established robust processes (tried and tested over 7 years) to ensure fair distribution of funds. CCDC has since met with community groups to discuss instigating a similar system in Coigach.
Many thanks to all who helped promote the bond offer and especially those who invested!
Coming Soon: We are working on a newsletter to keep you up to date with our other activities.