Laggan is a small community in the heart of the Highlands of Scotland with a vibrant and active population who are working to improve the social and economic well being of the community.
The Laggan Housing Committee was formed to examine the feasibility of purchasing and renovating six houses at Strathmashie which had been put up for sale by the liquidators of the Strathmashie Estate. The houses were withdrawn from the market before an offer could be made. However, the initiative taken by the Trading Company led directly to the development of six houses at Laggan Bridge by Albyn Housing Society.
Four years later four empty houses, along with the rest of the Strathmashie Estate, were put on the market and Laggan Housing Committee approached the Rural Housing Scotland to ask for help in putting together a project to purchase and renovate the homes in response to housing need identified by the community.
Rural Housing Scotland worked with Laggan Housing Committee and Laggan Community Association to develop an initiative to buy and renovate the properties. After unsuccessful discussions with a local Housing Association, who it was hoped might purchase the properties, the community decided to investigate whether there were any other sources of funding for the project.
In December 1996 Highland Council provided the community with a small grant for a feasibility study into the renovation of the homes. Once this was established the community worked with Rural Housing Scotland to investigate ways for the Strathmashie cottages to be brought back into use.
After much investigation the group worked with Highland Council on a successful bid for funding from the Empty Homes Initiative, which included improvement grant funding from Highland Council; an Environmental Renewal Grant from Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey Enterprise; and loan finance from a bank.
The community approached Triodos Bank, who expressed an interest in becoming involved and worked with the community and the other partners to agree the bank’s first loan venture in Scotland.
The Renovation Work
With all the funding in place the real work of getting the houses improved and tenants in them could begin. Laggan Community Trading Company approached Albyn Housing Society to ask if they would be willing to co-ordinate the renovation work for the cottages. Albyn agreed and, through their contact, the community was able to secure a competitive price for the renovation from a contractor.
The work on the houses started in November 1998 and despite a fairly poor winter was completed by March 2000. The cottages were officially opened by Calum MacDonald, Minster for Local Government and Housing on 26th March 1999. with all homes let to people on the local housing waiting list by that summer.