In 1999 the Knoydart Foundation led a community buyout of the remnants of the old Knoydart Estate, giving the community control of 16,000 acres, residential properties, a bunkhouse, old farm buildings and a hydro electric plant. All had suffered from years of neglect and were in poor condition.
Since its first business plan was undertaken in 1997, housing has been a key issue for the Foundation, even though it is not the only provider of housing on Knoydart. The housing stock it inherited at the time consisted of 5 residential properties (4 occupied), all in substandard condition.
In 2001 a Housing and Tourism Survey was undertaken to pull together community views on these issues. The report highlighted the need for temporary accommodation for people who were here on short term contracts. From this survey a proposal was put forward to build an A-Frame providing fully furnished living space for 2 individuals. The property consisted of 2 bed-sitting rooms with shared kitchen and bathroom. It was only ever intended as use for temporary workers – although one person did live there for over 5 years! The building was modular to minimise waste and was built by local people who worked for 50% of their normal salary in order to keep the cost of the property down. Following build we found ourselves having to develop an allocation policy to manage who was going to live there.
2002 saw the refurbishment for Stalker’s and Foreman’s, with Foreman’s being split into 2 to provide an additional new property. The work was completed with grant support from the council with the Foundation taking out a mortgage to cover its share of the costs. These buildings have provided long term homes for local residents with the first change in tenancy taking place in 2011.
In 2003 the Board agreed sale of land and 3 plots with no conditions were attached to the sale. Land was leased to Knoydart Forest Trust (KFT) to allow them to build another A-frame property on site for worker and contractor accommodation.
Further land was leased to a local building contractor in 2004 to build a third A-frame and two new homes were built following the completion of the land sale.
In 2006 the community’s first Housing Needs Survey was undertaken, including revisiting the Housing and Tourism survey to look at progress. A review was undertaken of the sale of land process following a community request for conditions on future sales to protect the Foundation’s assets. After attending a housing conference on Gigha the community developed, formalised and approved their housing policy.
The Foundation applied for Rural Housing Body status in 2007 but were deemed not eligible. Discussion started with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust to see how they could make best use of Title Conditions Act in order to improve their sale of land process and the Sale of Land policy approved by KF board.
The Foundation updated the Housing Needs Survey in 2008 and used to support submission to the new Rural Homes for Rent scheme. The sale of land policy started to look at shared equity as the best means of protecting the Foundations assets.
In 2009 the Trust heard that their bid to Rural Homes for Rent was successful and that they were able to build 3 new homes on Knoydart. Building started on site for Rural Homes for Rent in 2010, with first shared equity sale completing the same year. The Foundation started training through Landlord Accreditation Scotland and registered their properties with Highland Council.
The bedsit was decommissioned in 2011, having served its time, and converted to office space. The Foundation also decided to rent out the shared A-frame as a single unit; rather than shared.