ORGANISATION // Taigh Sgire Sholais
PROJECT // Former School House Renovation - Taigh Sgire Sholais
TOTAL PROJECT COST // £159,135.21
LEADER FUNDING PROVIDED // £57,601.91
Taigh Sgire Sholais (TSS) is a community group, set up in 2005 by the local community in Sollas, North Uist when the Sollas School and its grounds, including the School House, were gifted to the community by the North Uist Estate.
In 2012 TSS completed renovations on the School building, converting it into a community hall, and have now turned their attention to the other assets in their possession, namely the school grounds and the Former School House. In 2016 the possibility of making use of the school house was brought to light and a number of meetings and consultations were held to determine the best use of the property.
Based on the decision to pursue the option of affordable housing, TSS made contact with Taighean Innse Gall (TIG) ‘The local housing agency for the western isles’ who have been delivering housing development services to the communities of the Outer Hebrides for over 20 years. TIG were tasked with undertaking a feasibility study on the proposal, determining the suitability of the property for use as affordable housing, the work involved in the bringing the building up to a good standard and the costs associated with such works.
In summary, the findings of the feasibility study have indicated that the property is suitable for use as affordable housing, however, though structurally sound, the building will require a large amount of work to bring it up to a liveable standard. The feasibility study considered two options for the project, however it was made clear through feedback from the community that an option incorporating a small extension was the most favoured.
The property provided will be an energy efficient, low cost, modern two bedroom four person home, suitable for a young family to live in. The property will be let at social housing rates as set out by Scottish Government, ensuring the property will be affordable to those on lower incomes.
The project aims to meet the following objectives;
• To promote renewable energy and efficiency by providing a low cost, energy efficient home.
• To support and develop rural services and facilities through income generated from the properties rental stream, particularly those benefitting women as well as the young and elderly of the community.
• Support and encourage the development of SME’s and community enterprises through the provision of the community benefit fund.
• To tackle the issues of de-populisation and the aging demographic by and provide means for a young family to set up home in the community.
• Maintain the character and attractiveness of the local area by utilising the existing buildings.
• Promote the development of tourism initiatives by improving the size, quality and marketing of local tourism events/attractions such as ‘Sollas Week’.