We are working with Stòras Uibhist to develop Smart Clachan, a new affordable housing initiative in response to depopulation and climate change. A Smart Clachan is a development which incorporates energy efficient homes alongside shared amenities, such as a workspace and outdoor space, to enable people to move and remain in the community. The first Smart Clachan will be built at Rubha Bhuailt and will consist of houses available to purchase through shared equity, with islanders having priority.
Smart Clachan take the build form of a traditional island township consisting of a few houses and crofts, re-imagined in a modern context. They utilise community-led, cooperative housing models to create modern, affordable homes. This community-led, cooperative ethos is fostered through a range of shared services and facilities to enhance sustainability and connectivity, including a community work hub to enable households to establish their own business or work remotely.
In May, we announced the winner of our Smart Clachan logo competition. Pupils at Sgoil Dhalabroig in South Uist all submitted fantastic & creative entries for us to choose from. The winning logo was created by Jana MacMillan from PG3 – we loved how bright & colourful Jana’s design is! A big thank you to Jana, and all the other children who took part.
Community Engagement Events
Alongside Stòras Uibhist, we held a Smart Clachan launch event at Grogarry Lodge on the 31st March, where we had two drop-in sessions for people to find out more about Smart Clachan in Uist. These sessions were a great success and we would like to thank everyone who came along! For those who couldn’t make it, there will be several more drop-in sessions across the island over the coming weeks. Donna attended Askernish Golf Club on the 19th & 20th of April and more locations and dates will be confirmed soon. We really encourage Uist community to members to head along to one of these informal sessions to find out more about the project and share views.
Smart Clachan Project Officer, Donna Young, was contacted by Jake Ryan, head of the Irish Government’s Regional Development and Innovation Unit for the Department of Rural and Community Development, to discuss how the Irish Government launched their National Hub Network and its online platform Connected Hubs. We felt that our plans for Smart Clachan (in particular, our proposed community workspace/hub) relate well to what is already being done in rural Ireland. Connected Hubs supports just over 200 remote and co-working hubs in the state. They expect that number to be over 400 once they have identified and onboarded all those that want to join.
They also manage the Broadband Connection Point initiative. BCP’s are community centres, sports clubs and other publicly accessible places in rural and isolated communities. The Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications arrange for the initial connectivity to each site, as most of them do not have commercially available broadband nearby, and then add Wi-Fi access points and digital services such as remote work facilities, skills training, arts & culture activities and eHealth. They have currently have 250 BCP’s live and operational, with a further 50 to complete this year. There will be 14 off-shore islands included in the project of which 12 are completed so far.
The comparisons of ‘black spot’ areas in the Outer Hebrides to places such as Malin Beg, Co. Donegal, showed how working on improving digital connectivity, as well as community workspace/hubs can bring local areas back to life and provide a lifeline for those relying on phone and internet connectivity, as most of us do today.
We agreed that it would be beneficial to link up and arrange a study/learning trip to Ireland and look at how the hubs have been developed in some rural areas. We hope that the what has been achieved by the DRCD could be replicated in Scotland.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about Smart Clachan in Uist, you can contact Donna Young, our Smart Clachan Project Officer: email@example.com