Ulva Ferry Housing Phase 2

Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT), working with Ulva School Community Association (USCA), are delighted to have appointed The Wee House Company to build four affordable houses at Ulva Ferry, on the Isle of Mull. This news is a culmination of three years’ dedicated work to secure land and funding for this project, which will meet an ongoing acute housing need locally.

Thanks to a grant of £777,855 from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, £48,000 from Argyll & Bute Council’s Strategic Housing Fund, a mortgage from Ecology Building Society and many individual donations, a full funding package has now been secured. MICT is also grateful to the Scottish Land Fund, The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Nationwide Community Fund and Highlands & Islands Enterprise for funding the Project Officer’s post.

This ambitious project will see construction of 4 houses at Ulva Ferry, on the west coast of the Isle of Mull, on two plots of land – one purchased via the Scottish Land Fund, and one donated by a local landowner. The houses will be offered with secure tenancies to those in housing need. Rents will be affordable, in line with social housing on Mull, and will be economical to heat. A locally agreed allocation policy will be used to prioritise applications. While MICT is a registered private landlord, they are working with West Highland Housing Association, who offer assistance with allocations, management support, and advice to tenants.

Delivering affordable long-term rental homes will have a real positive impact for the local community at Ulva Ferry, including an increase in the primary school roll, and the number of working age adults to work locally which will boost the fragile local economy. USCA Convenor Josh Liddle commented, “it is fantastic to see The Wee House Company formally appointed to manage this project after so much work behind the scenes. We look forward to welcoming more people to our community here at Ulva Ferry next year”.

MICT Convenor, Sandy Brunton, added, “affordable housing is consistently a priority issue across Mull and Iona and this project is a really good example of community powered regeneration. We are so fortunate to have Helen MacDonald, our very experienced Housing Project Officer, steering us through all the challenges of building homes for rent in a very rural area”.

The Wee House Company is at the forefront of modular construction in Scotland. Homes are 90% complete before leaving their Ayrshire factory and are delivered to site ready-fitted with kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing and electrics, meaning they can be completed and occupied far quicker than traditional builds. Factory conditions help reduce waste and improve quality control, whilst eliminating the effects of inclement weather.

Managing Director Jennifer Higgins said “The need for affordable homes has never been greater and with our newly launched brand ‘Connect Modular’ we look forward to contributing high quality, sustainable homes to help tackle this issue. With our wealth of experience building in remote and island communities we are very much looking forward to working with MICT and USCA to deliver these much-needed homes for residents of Mull.”

For more details about the Ulva Ferry housing project, or if you want to discuss affordable housing issues anywhere on Mull and Iona, please contact Helen MacDonald on 01680 812 918 or email hmacdonald@mict.co.uk.


MESS Island Castaways & Donations

Thank you to everyone for their patience and understanding while our charity shops have been closed. We are looking at ways to reopen our shops in as soon as it’s safe to do so. We are also investigating selling online by ebay and more locally via facebook (we will post updates as we have them). We know lots of you have items ready to donate and for that we are truly grateful. We will need your donations, and your custom, more than ever.

As many of you have indicated that that have been busy clearing out during lockdown, we anticipate being very busy initially, and so we will need to accept donations in a very controlled manner. We are looking at how to safely accept donations at drop off points – we will let you know more details nearer the time. We will also be quarantining donations for 72 hours before they are sorted, meaning lack of storage space is likely to be an issue.

One big thing you can do before donating is sort it yourself by following these checklists: Donating clothing

  • Is the item damaged in any way
  • Is the fabric bobbly
  • Would I buy this item?

If you don’t think it’s good enough to sell, please can you place in a separate bag marked rags. We can still send these for recycling as long as they are clean.

Donating Toys

  • Are all the pieces there?
  • Is it broken in any way?
  • Are the boxes badly damaged?

Donating small Electrical goods

  • Is the item in good repair
  • Is it fully functioning? We test electrical goods but do not do repairs.

Donating furniture

  • Is the upholstery ripped or stained
    • Is it clean.
    • Is the wood or glass scratched or damaged?
    • Is the correct fire label still attached?

If so , we ask that you dispose of them yourself as our strict re-use standards only allow us to sell quality checked items.

This will help us save time and cut down on waste, meaning more time and money can go towards supporting our recycling project and the community.

We hope to post more updates very soon about when you can shop, donate and volunteer – as well as, crucially, how we will be keeping you all safe. Thank you again for your patience.

For more information please contact Hazel Cowe at hcowe@mict.co.uk


Ulva Ferry Pontoon, Shore Facilities and Gateway Centre

Aerial view of Ulva Ferry car park under construction

Like most areas of life as we know it, the Ulva Ferry car park improvement project came to a grinding halt in late March, so close to completion, after a sterling job from TSL and subcontractors in challenging winter weather. Work continues to finalise signage ready for when construction work can begin again in phase 2 of the Scottish Government coronavirus route map.

The community planting day was postponed, and the saplings kindly donated by Rachel Watt and Lucy MacKenzie are being cared for by Moray in readiness to plant out in the Autumn.

Design work has continued on the shore facilities building thanks to a grant from The Waterfall Fund and RTIF (Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund), and whilst effort has been diverted to bring in much need MICT core funding, due to lack of income during the pandemic, it is hoped that work will begin again soon on the shore facilities development project to secure planning and funding.

The Ulva Ferry pontoon has been quiet during the beautiful spring weather but has been providing berthing for fishing boats, and now local recreational boats. We hope we can welcome back visiting boats later in the summer.

Cally Fleming, Shore Facilities Development Officer


Aros Park Walled Garden Update

This really is going to be one heck of a project. The progress we have made in the last few months has been really encouraging. For a start, we now have permission from Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) to start work, plus they are very supportive of what we are doing and are willing to help wherever they can.

With great thanks to an island resident who just happens to have been a walled garden designer in the past, we now have a design layout for the garden, this has come with a full planting list as well. This design has been discussed at length within the steering group and we have agreed that something very close to this will be the basis for the renovated garden. With his expert knowledge, we now know that we need to follow the original layout of the garden, so we will be looking to rediscover the original paths and border boundaries.

Progress has also been made on the wall. A survey has now been carried out, and the report is good news. It’s not perfect by a long way, but it is safe. Unfortunately, the repair bill for the section that has fallen will not be small, but there are ways to mitigate this.

We are now very close to the clearing the ground stage of the project. However, before we can make a start there are a number of trees in and around the garden that need to be removed. Once these are clear, then we will be looking for helpers to come in and clear the ground and find out what there is in the garden that is worth keeping.

If you would like to get involved, either with the steering group, or with the digging and clearing, please let me know, we’d love to see you.

– Richard Thorne, Project Officer


Rethink Mess Spring Update

The ReThink MESS project has been running from April last year and will run until April 2020. We received grant funding from the Scottish Governments Climate Challenge Fund.

Our Community fridge is going well with 283kg being redistributed or composted since the start of 2019. This would otherwise have gone to landfill, producing methane as it breaks down. This is a great success, and we hope to be saving even more as the 2019 season springs into action.

We have also just sent out leaflets and fridge magnets to all the self-catering properties on Mull and Iona to encourage people at the end of their stay to put any sealed, unopened food that is within its use-by date in the fridge before they get on the ferry. This should increase donations from the public.

After the success of the “Recycling on the go” stations at the Highland games, Bunessan and Salen Shows in 2018. We are awaiting delivery of our Recycling on the go permanent stations, that will be placed around the island. These will be in strategic places around the island.
 
Our business composting is taking off with the delivery of composters nearly complete. These are for high volume food waste producers out with the Tobermory area who will not be able to use the Big Hanna composter that is coming to Tobermory late April

As part of our carbon education, we are running workshops and events focussed on food waste reduction and low carbon food choices over the course of the project.

We held a Real Junk Food dinner at the start of February at Ballygown Restaurant with 16 attendees. Not only did this highlight that so much good food is wasted, but we also raised £160 that has been donated to MacMillan Cancer Support. We have to thank Jeanette Cutlack for hosting a great evening. Not only agreeing to host it but the added stress of not knowing what she would be getting for ingredients until the evening before!

We’ve had few upcycling events too, with two furniture events, one in Craignure with Jennifer Jack showing attendees how to make chalk paint and then using this on furniture. The other was held by Mull Makers in Fionnaphort over 2 days.

We also held a Bicycle Repair workshop at Bedoun Agri in March which was well attended despite the weather! Thankfully the polytunnel kept us dry.

In early 2019 we held a hot composting workshop which was very well attended with 18 attendees some with composters and others looking at getting one. We had a phone in with some experts at Hotbins UK who were able to give great advice to top up what our resident experts were able to impart.

As spring is in the air, we will be concentrating on the food waste collection service around the Tobermory area. We have had the budget released and are in the process of buying our polytunnel and Big Hanna composter. We are interviewing for staff to run the collections and composting and are signing people up to the trial, keep an eye on the MESS Facebook page for regular updates.

If you wish to get involved or have any comments on any of our outcomes, them please give Ewan Baxter a call or drop him an Email at EBaxter@MICT.co.uk.


Ulva Ferry Shore Facilities Project Update

Ulva Ferry Shore Facilities Update

Over the past 8 months, we have been continuing to work on Phase 2 of the waterfront development at Ulva Ferry – to improve the visitor – and local – experience and services, provide economic benefit to the area and sustain and help develop business opportunities. We have recently been awarded funding from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) for the proposed car park improvements, the 3 motor home stances and chemical waste disposal point and Ulva car park resurfacing works and this should help with congestion and motorhome management in the summer months.

Over the winter, we have been working with USCA and the local community, developing plans to apply to the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF) for development funding for the shore facilities building at Ulva Ferry. This fund “supports new opportunities to promote the outstanding scenery, wildlife and culture of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in ways which support inclusive and sustainable economic growth. It has an aim to retain jobs and sustain populations and services in rural communities.”

Interpretation is a key component of the proposed building at Ulva Ferry, and the project has adopted the name Doras Caolas Ulbha – Sound of Ulva Gateway. The project will work in partnership with a number of local and national organisations to interpret and help protect the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Loch na Keal National Scenic area, including Staffa and The Treshnish Islands, as well as providing other visitor facilities, such as toilets, showers and laundrette facilities.

The project will signpost to Ulva, local businesses and places of interest, encourage responsible access and it will use innovative technology to bring some of the area’s unique heritage into the centre – making it accessible to all. The project will include a Ranger position and create and support further jobs in the community. Many thousands of  visitors pass through the National Scenic Area in the summer months, it is hoped that the project and visitor management activities will help ensure that the outstanding natural and cultural heritage is sustainable for future generations of residents and visitors.

If you would like to find out more, comment or be involved in Doras Caolas Ulbha, please contact cfleming@mict.co.uk.


Nonhebel Park – Tobermory

New tenants receiving their keys!

After many years in the planning, it’s hard to believe that Nonhebel Park (Tobermory Light Industrial Park) has been open for just over two months now, with the first tenants accepting keys for business units and lock up units on the 1st March. The name Nonhebel Park was chosen to commemorate local businessman Andrew Nonhebel who first approached the trust regarding the lack of storage and small business premises in North Mull. An oak tree has been planted within the grounds of the park by Andrew’s family – ‘great oaks from little acorns grow’.


We had hoped to have held an official opening of the park during March, but any such plans are currently on hold due to the current restrictions in place due to Covid-19. No-one could have predicted the impact of the virus on local businesses and our island communities. Whilst we do have vacant units and facilities at the park that we’d like to fill, our focus has been to regularly communicate with our existing tenants to ensure that they are aware of the assistance and support available to them at this unsettling time.


Enquiries regarding premises or storage can be directed to mgreig@mict.co.uk Tel: 01680 812910.

Nonhebel Park, Tobermory