Hardy Perennials

The Ground Force!
The Ground Force!

 

Work will be starting soon on Achiltibuie Schoolhouse so we held a clear-out day to cut back some of the undergrowth that was beginning to take over the garden. Local volunteers armed with a various bits of gardening paraphernalia gathered on Saturday 19th March and were soon chopping and lopping to tackle the jungle. A couple of hours later and there was something of a transformation – it may not be a contender for garden of of the year yet, but there is space now, allowing access for the construction team who will be working on the building (soon we hope).  Many thanks to all our volunteers for their time and effored – and missing from the picture Bill and Iain who removed several trailer-loads of branches and greenery – and especially to Lesley and Rose at the Piping School Cafe who generously sponsored the day by providing lunch for the garden army.

 

Steve chopping trees Work underway Ruth and Iain dealing with clematis

 

And after…..

 

Schoolhouse after clearance

Our New Community Asset

Achiltibuie Schoolhouse After years of filling in forms, digging up holes, looking down drains and generally chipping away, we finally took ownership of Achiltibuie Schoolhouse 0n Friday 16th October.

The house has been vacant for a few years now and has suffered from lack of maintenance but it is basically sound.  And placed as it is – next to the school and the community hall it will make a big difference to that little corner if the schoolhouse is restored to former glory.

The next step is to to lease the house to Highland Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) who will take over the refurbishment and convert the house into two smart, modern and comfortable flats: a two-bedroom upstairs, and a one-bedroom downstairs. HSCHT, who has all the relevant experience and expertise, will manage the tenancies and the property and we hope to see two new households in Coigach within the year.

Funding has been secured from the Nationwide Shelter Empty Homes Initiative which will go some way towards the refurbishment but not all, so we are pursuing other avenues, and Scottish Land Fund are helping with the legal costs. Although the purchase price was only £1, there are of course many other expenses! Read more

What’s the future for Achiltibuie Schoolhouse?

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Achiltibuie Schoolhouse provided a home for teachers since it was built – probably around the time of the Education Act in the  1870s.  Now it is empty.

When the last head teacher retired and moved out two years ago, it was not offered as accommodation when the new post was advertised and we understand it is not going to be transferred (from the Education Department) to housing stock.

If there is a demonstrable community benefit, Highland Council, may be able to transfer it to the community so that it remains an asset to the area.There is potential here for a family home or conversion to flats which could accommodate future teachers or other key workers etc; there may even be scope for achieving this through a housing association which might simplify the process.

We know the house needs work – but how much? Before we go any further, we have been advised to conduct a full structural survey. There may be funding available for this important first step providing we can show community support for it. Armed with this information we will all be in a better position to see what the possibilities and  problems are.

Some feel it would be better to persuade the council to keep the house and renovate it themselves –  if they have the resources to do. Others fear it may be sold on the open market and may become another holiday home, or if left, may deteriorate further and/or have to be demolished.  

If you have any suggestions or comments please get in touch. If do you support the idea of surveying the schoolhouse with a view to community ownership please sign the petition  which will be available in Achiltibuie Stores from Monday 17th March – or email us at the address below.

(Community Support = views from people on the local electoral roll but it would still be interesting to hear views from the broader community, especially those that have similar experiences and issues).

coigachldo@hotmail.co.uk

….and remember you can like us on Facebook:  Coigach Community Development Company 

  Coigach Community Development Company and follow us on Twitter @coigachcdc to join in with this and other discussions.