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Melness Crofters' Estate submits planning application for affordable housing scheme

By Caroline McMorran

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An application for a small-scale housing development on the north coast has been submitted to Highland Council.

Melness Crofters' Estate is seeking permission to build 12 new homes along with a community space, two business units and associated infrastructure on land at Talmine. Parking for around 29 cars is also proposed.

An artist's drawing of the proposed housing scheme.
An artist's drawing of the proposed housing scheme.

A design statement submitted with the application states: “The proposed development is a response to a range of threats facing rural communities, such as lack of affordable housing, demographic change, COVID and climate change.

“The development will provide homes for those who struggle to get onto the property ladder due to the lack of affordable housing. The development will create modern, affordable homes with a range of shared facilities and services to enhance a sense of community and connectivity.”

Melness Crofters' Estate has worked on the housing project in partnership with the Communities Housing Trust, a registered charity set up to help rural communities secure long-term solutions to their local housing needs.

The development will be built on 1.14 hectares of croft land owned by Melness Crofters' Estate, in the Melness township, west of Tongue, and immediately west of an existing development of six Albyn Housing Association homes at Joseph Mackay Court.

Melness Crofters Trust, which manages over 10,000 acres of land between Ben Hutig to the Kyle of Tongue, was involved in the Joseph Mackay Court housing scheme in the early 2000s.

Designed by Inverness-based architecture and landscape practice catoe/brown, the homes are described as “of modest size and design, providing functional living spaces for families” and also as “single-storey, low-lying and sympathetic to the sky line.”,

Each home incorporates practical and sustainable elements, such as energy efficient windows, solar panels and hot water technologies. Single story, low lying and sympathetic to skyline

The Communities Housing Trust, on behalf of Melness Crofters' Estate carried out a survey in November 2022 to inform the design of the new scheme. A drop-in session was also held.

The survey revealed a demand for housing in the area, as well as a need from businesses for staff accommodation. Feedback on the development was described as “overwhelmingly positive”, with several visitors expressing an interest in living in the properties”.

The estate was awarded £18,900 from Highland Council’s Community Regeneration Fund in January this year to help with the cost of the first phase of the affordable housing scheme.

It has also received funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural and Islands Housing Fund for feasibility studies.

Highland Council said the application was currently “under consideration”.

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