Easdale is the smallest permanently inhabited island of the Inner Hebrides – its total area is just 62 acres. The island has 71 dwellings, of which 30 are occupied by permanent residents. A further 34 are second homes of people who visit regularly, some have been in the same family for many generations.
Easdale was once the centre of the Scottish slate mining industry and home to over 500 people. Its population declined in the 1960’s to just four people but has grown over the last 50 years. This small community is now best known as the home of the World Stone Skimming Championships but also has a major wildlife boat operator, a bar and restaurant and a folk museum.
Eilean Eisdeal, the community trust, has been very active to support community development, purchasing and improving the harbour and moorings, the community hall and it recently brought the stone skimming pool into community ownership.
The Trust are now exploring what Easdale needs to remain a thriving community into the future and housing has been identified as crucial to sustaining a diverse community and local economic development. The Trust have asked Rural Housing Scotland to help them look at the options for the development of community housing on Easdale to provide affordable homes.
This will involve an assessment of local housing needs, the appraisal of development opportunities – both new build and renovation, the financial viability of community housing and the development of a community housing business plan.
Rural Housing Scotland is working alongside Mull & Iona Community Trust on this project and a related project on the Island of Lismore, with Derek Logie leading on the Easdale project and Helen MacIntosh from MICT leading the Lismore study. Sam Foster is providing architectural support to both island studies.
It is planned that both studies will lead to the development of island housing through the Rural and Islands Housing Fund.