Overlooking Loch Alsh near Kyle of Lochalsh on land previously owned by the Kinlochshiel Shinty Club, Grant Road is now a welcome addition to the community of Reraig, Balmacara. This community shinty club driven project was delivered over two phases.
The first phase provided two homes and due to local demand a third home was provided. These sustainable homes were built by local contractors James MacQueen Building Contractors Ltd. and designed by award winning architect, Rural Design through the successful R.HOUSE partnership. From their nearby factory in Skye, local materials were used where possible to minimise transportation and environmental impact. The tenure of the homes is Rent to Buy, which combines low cost home ownership with a loyalty cash back, following an initial rental period. Homes have a Rural Housing Burden with a pre-emption right and an equity share of 80% protects the on-going affordability of the homes if they are sold in the future.
The Kinlochshiel Shinty Club approached The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust in late 2011 to explore what opportunities may be available through joint working. The club had the vision that affordable homes for local people (and upcoming shinty players) would be a perfect fit with their goal of providing a state of the art shinty pitch.
Where possible, local contractors feature highly in our work. In this area James MacQueen Builders Ltd. and award winning architects, Rural Design have formed a company R.HOUSE, who were engaged in working creatively on this development. “The R.HOUSE has been conceived to create an affordable and simple solution for new contemporary housing.... Designed to nestle comfortably in any site, the simple forms and robust materials of the R.HOUSE evoke the timeless forms of traditional Highland barns and steadings, allowing the house to fit comfortably in and around existing buildings, or an open site. Constructed to meet the rigours of the Highland weather and the highest standards of energy efficiency the R.HOUSE is intended to provide a high quality home for years to come”.
The homes were advertised in the Lochalsh area with a strong response. The housing provided at Grant Road has allowed the release of some local authority homes to other households, thereby helping the housing system to revolve efficiently. The tenants have experienced lower running costs due to increased levels of insulation, an efficient wood burning stove and an MHVR system, all working together to make the homes more affordable to live in. The Kinlochshiel Shinty Club have carried out the first stage of their pitch preparations, improved the access road and set aside car parking. Future phases of their project will see the opening of the pitch and a potential new pavilion for the teams to use. The Kinlochshiel Shinty club chose the name “Grant Road” in recognition of the previous landowners wishes to provide long-term community benefit.
Initially it was not clear how the funding for the housing elements of the project would all come together. Thanks to the Scottish Government's continued loan funding for the Rent to Buy Scheme, they were able to build three properties in Lochalsh. Site servicing also proved a challenge in terms of drainage, although this was overcome with the contractors help resulting in a shared pumping station which connects each of the properties with the main sewer allowing a provision to accommodate the proposed shinty pavilion. By using the same contractors to carry out site servicing for the shinty club and the house building, this resulted in a more coherent and cost effective approach.