The community purchase of the Assynt Glebe in Lochinver from the Church of Scotland went ahead at the end of March 2021. See the press release on our blog page here, or download it as a pdf file here.
Background to this Project
In 2019, Assynt Development Trust agreed to explore the possibility of a community purchase of the Church of Scotland owned Assynt Glebe. The Church of Scotland had expressed a willingness to sell this land to a local community group.
The Glebe had been included, along with Highland Council-owned brownfield sites around Lochinver Harbour, in the 2019 Site Development Options Appraisal. Architect Matt Bridgestock of John Gilbert Architects created initial sketches of possible development of the Glebe in that project. Highland Council’s Housing Development team gave their support for the proposal of creating affordable housing on the Glebe, and funded a site visit by their Environmental Officer.
Funding was approved in February 2020 from the Scottish Land Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Assynt Development Trust, allowing feasibility and business planning work to take place to demonstrate the feasibility of purchase and development of the Glebe land. Communities Housing Trust was appointed to take on this work.
The feasibility and planning work was carried out alongside local community consultation, in the form of an online survey, due to 2020 lockdown restrictions preventing public meetings at that time. While that initial consultation demonstrated community support for the purchase and mixed-use development, furthermore detailed consultation will be carried out about specifics of different types of development on the Glebe, later in 2021.
The work carried out by Communities Housing Trust looked at a variety of developments and uses of Glebe land, including affordable housing, recreation and tourism facilities, outdoor education, paths, mountain bike trails, woodland crofts, enterprise units, and other ideas suggested in responses to the community survey. On the basis of this work, an application was made to Stage 2 of the Scottish Land Fund, which in November 2020 approved funding of 95% of purchase costs of the Glebe. The remainder of the cost will be covered by Assynt Development Trust. The purchase of the Assynt Glebe was completed on 29th March 2021.
A steering group has been established, with two sub-groups – one to progress housing development and the other to progress other land-related developments. The steering group includes representatives from Communities Housing Trust, Assynt Community Council, Assynt Foundation (as neighbouring landowner), Lochinver Primary School, Woodland Trust Scotland and the Woodland Crofts Partnership. Minutes of the meetings of these groups are available below.
In May 2021 The Trust commissioned Chris Goodman to carry out scoping report for possible footpaths and their likely cost across the Assynt Glebe. The decision about which paths to promote will depend on the locations of the houses and other buildings which has not yet been decided.
Further site investigations were carried out on 9th August 2021; these were funded by a grant from the Rural Housing Fund and the purpose was to find and to be clear about the best ground conditions for a housing development. The Trust and the steering group await the engineers report.