Sunshine in Stirling

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Community Land Scotland maintaining its reputation as the sunniest conference!

Friday 18th May saw 100+ individuals, passionate about Community Land Ownership travel from all over the country to Stirling for the annual Community Land Scotland Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was “What can we learn from Community Land Owners?”. The answer predicted in Ian Hepburn’s welcome was “quite a lot”. A prediction that would turn out to be quite accurate!

The keynote speech was delivered by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform. The message was that the continuing growth of Community Land Ownership should be celebrated and supported and that community land isn’t just for the Highlands and Islands but all areas of Scotland. Furthermore, Land Reform needs to be understood as being part of a bigger picture; strengthening Scotland’s communities. This involves cross-sector and cross-policy collaboration involving Land Reform, Planning, Housing, the Islands Bill and many more.

Following the keynote speech were presentations from Anne Fraser, Garbh Allt Community Initiative, and Professor Jim Hunter and Dr Calum MacLeod from Community Land Scotland. The first afternoon concluded with workshops on: reaching one million acres in community land ownership; Crown Estate Scotland’s assets and opportunities; CRtB Abandoned and; Neglected Land and celebrating our community land culture.

Day two of the conference was no less interesting or inspiring. Following the welcome back from Angela Williams, the delegates heard from Rebecca Munro; a resident’s perspective of the CRtB of the Island of Ulva. Rebecca stressed that it is hard work, it can be intrusive on your day to day life but that communities involved in the process need to carry on. At the end, you can find yourself in their position; the community owning their home.

The morning session ended with a panel discussion on Land and Culture chaired by Agnes Rennie (Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn) with: Mairi McFadyen (Abriachan Forest Trust); Polly MacInness (Sleat Community Trust); Dr Issie MacPhail (UHI) and; Lucy Conway (Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust).

The afternoon workshops gave the opportunity for delegates to take part in a theme from the previous day or join in a few new conversations: Resettlement and repopulation in rural Scotland; Engaging young adults in community land management; How community landowners can share knowledge and; Urban community land opportunities and challenges.

As always, a fantastic event that stimulates many ideas, discussions and questions. Our interest, of course, is how community land ownership can help facilitate the delivery of genuinely affordable, suitable and desirable homes in rural Scotland. From the many conversations we had over the two days, it is clear that those who are passionate about their communities owning their land are equally as passionate about their communities having the housing they need.

Amazingly, thanks to Alasdair Satchel from North West Community Woodlands Company, audio recordings of the presentations are available. A fantastic opportunity if you couldn’t make the conference or you want to hear the stars of the show again!

On The Road Again…

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been busy getting out and having conversations with new contacts and having new conversations with old contacts.

As you will be aware, Rural Housing Scotland recently announced that we will have a dedicated set of feet on the ground to cover the West Coast from Lochaber to Campbeltown. We are delighted to have received enquiries from all over the new geography!

Over a couple of days we travelled to meet with North Ayrshire Council and Argyll and Bute Council to have a chat about Affordable Housing in Rural Scotland. The meetings were really positive and it is genuinely heartening to see both councils understanding the difficulties in delivering small scale, truly affordable housing in rural Scotland and the Islands but that the delivery of this housing is absolutely vital to the social wellbeing, local economy, sustainability and future of our communities.

We are looking forward to continuing to help facilitate communities, their local authority, RSLs and any and every other interested organisation in working together to help deliver housing where it may be needed but not understood or identified.

Often, access to land can be a barrier and so we are really looking forward to hearing more about Community Landownership in Stirling on the 18th/19th May at the annual Community Land Scotland Conference. If you see us at our stand or wandering around, come have a chat!

‘CAP’ Cakes, Bat Phones and an impromptu gig: Jura Development Trust’s model for engagement

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Rural Housing Scotland visited the Island of Jura on Saturday 28th April to attend the Jura Development Trust’s Community Action Plan (CAP) event.

That it had to be rescheduled due to some rather awful weather in March definitely ended up being a positive. We were treated to some unbelievable weather, the DT were able to develop an even stronger understanding of how the CAP can help map a clearer route towards the community’s “Dream Jura” and it also coincided with the election of a new Jura Community Council.

Following the trip from Tayvallich to Craighouse, we had a round table discussion (and lunch) with the Jura DT, Cllr Anne Horn and the Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS).

The CAP launch event was very well attended – especially considering how good the weather was – with attendees receiving an explanation of the process taken to create the CAP and how it will be used, a talk from Sandy Brunton (DTAS and Mull and Iona Community Trust) about his experiences of community development and a brief explanation from ourselves on how communities can influence the delivery of affordable housing in their area.

Following the presentations, the all important tea, coffee and “CAP Cakes” were brought out which is always an effective method of encouraging discussion! The more informal discussion held will hopefully help spread awareness of the CAP, how the Jura DT hope to progress projects and that there are organisations who’s very purpose is to help communities build the future they want.

The rest of the day was spent taking a stroll along the Corran Sands path, playing a tune on the ‘Bat Phone’ installation and then off to the hotel for dinner. Safe to say that the local malt was sampled which may have resulted in the impromptu music and singing. However, this is often when some of the most intriguing conversations are held; when folk are a bit more ‘relaxed’.

By the time we were getting on the RIB back to Tayvallich, only 24hrs after arrival, it was evidently clear that there is a buzz on Jura about its future. A large part of that future will involve a bit of out-the-box thinking on how the community can deliver the affordable housing that will help it continue to grow.

Keep Up to Date!

We’re keen to make ourselves as accessible as possible so that as many communities, individuals and organisations can approach us with any comments, questions, queries and proposals relating to affordable housing.

However you want to contact us, just click on the relevant link below!

Social Media: RHS Facebook | RHS Twitter | OIH Facebook | OIH Twitter | OIH Instagram | Lochaber, Argyll and Arran Twitter |

If you would like to contact our staff directly:

Derek Logie, Chief Executive

Phone: 01620 248220

Mobile: 07818 114583

Email: derek@ruralhousingscotland.org

Cameron Anson, Development Officer

Mobile: 07933424812

Email: Cameron@ruralhousingscotland.org

What do Lochaber, Argyll and Arran have in Common?

Answer: From the 1st of April 2018 they will all have a Rural Housing Scotland Development Officer they can call on for advice and assistance should they consider investigating affordable housing in their communities.

Through the Our Island Home project, RHS has been working with various island communities in Argyll and Highlands and we are looking forward to extending our coverage into the Argyll mainland and Lochaber as well as welcoming Arran into the islands we cover.

If your community is within our new area, feel free to get in touch to discuss any comments, questions or concerns you may have about affordable housing.

Email contact is cameron@ruralhousingscotland.org

A Wee Bit of Site TLC

Afternoon All,

Whilst I’m not under 3ft of snow like in other areas, it is still pretty darned cold so what better way to warm the cockles than getting stuck into this website administering show!

Having never tried this before, it’s very much a case of learn as you go and so there *might* be a few teething issues. Nothing ventured, nothing gained though.

So far it’s mainly been the RHS website and not the OIH page that’s been in receipt of some TLC. However, most contact details should now be up to date and I’ve also had the pleasure of trawling through various council’s Local Development Plans and Local Housing Strategies to update all of those links in the Policy section. Feel free to explore those delights!

Building Rural Futures – RHS Conference 2018

23rd February was the date for our annual conference. The theme this year was Building Rural Futures. As per usual, the conference was held in Birnam (with the pre-conference evening reception being held at Dunkeld House Hotel).

We were delighted to welcome around 100 delegates and speakers to discuss various subjects ranging from Island Proofing through to hutting and cooperative self-builds. Unsurprisingly, the Planning Bill was a hot topic and Richard Heggie of Urban Animation gave us a presentation of why EVERYONE should get involved in the discussion.

A common concern throughout the event was the debate over providing housing where it CAN be delivered (in order to hit the Scottish Government’s 50k Affordable Homes target) as opposed to delivering housing where it is needed.

Shortly after the conference, a report commissioned by Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland was published. The aim of this Review of Strategic Investment Plans for Affordable Housing (here) is to better understand how the Scottish Government target is likely to be delivered in practice and should help keep the discussions raised at the conference going.

If you missed the conference or would like to have another look again at the presentations, you can find them on this page.

Rural Housing Fund Seminars

We have been organising seminars on the Rural Housing Fund. At the seminars, the Scottish Government provide information about it e.g. who is eligible to apply, how to apply, how much grant is available…. and Rural Housing Scotland give details on how communities in other parts of Scotland have delivered and developed their own projects. We have been lucky enough to be joined by other organisations, such as HIE/Scottish Land Fund, Scottish Land and Estates, Community Land Scotland and the relevant local authorities.

The next Rural Housing Fund seminar takes place on 25 October in East Lothian. If you live or work in/near the area and you are interested in attending, you can register on Eventbrite.

Here is the programme for our last seminar in Inverurie, to give you a taste of what to expect.

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Scottish Rural Parliament – see you there!?

Rural Housing Scotland and Our Island Home are very much looking forward to meeting lots of new people and catching up with old faces at the Scottish Rural Parliament in Brechin next week. We’re going to have a stall at the marketplace so please pop by and say hello 🙂

We will have lots of useful information and will be ready to support you in your quest for community led housing! If you have a project in mind, come and have a chat. With the Rural Housing Fund (and now the Islands Housing Fund) open to expressions of interest and applications, there is support out there for you, whatever stage your project is at. With a track record of working on community-led housing projects across the country, we aim to give you the most practical advice we can.

In other news, our Rural Housing Fund seminars we are organising in several rural local authorities are going very well. Tomorrow, we will be in Inverurie. For more information: ruralhousingfundseminars.eventbrite.co.uk