ULVA FERRY HOUSING, PHASE 2: 4 MORE LONG-TERM RENTAL HOMES
Four years after embarking on an ambitious project to deliver four affordable homes at Ulva Ferry on the Isle of Mull, Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) handed over keys to its new tenants in May 2021. Just 10 years ago, the local primary school was threatened with closure, and now – thanks to the efforts of the community – Ulva Ferry is well on its way to a sustainable future.
Following years of feasibility work and fundraising to purchase land and meet the construction costs of this £1.3M project, four houses were built by modular contractor The Wee House Company, to meet an acute housing need on the island, and to support the local primary school roll. 31 applications were received and a locally agreed, points based, allocation policy was used to choose tenants.
Working closely with Ulva School Community Association (USCA), MICT identified an ongoing housing need following the completion of their first affordable houses in 2017, including a need for smaller houses for young people and older members of the community, as well as family sized homes. Tenants have the comfort of secure tenancies, affordable rents, and high quality, energy efficient homes. While MICT is a registered private landlord, we work with West Highland Housing Association, which offers assistance with allocations, management support, and advice to tenants.
All four new tenants have experienced significant housing need and are thrilled to be moving into their new homes and being part of the Ulva Ferry community.
‘The positive impact MICT have had on us and other families can genuinely not be underestimated, and securing our home is truly life changing.’ New tenant
The delivery of these houses will secure the future sustainability of the fragile Ulva Ferry community, increasing the resident working age population by 10% and the school roll by 50%. From August 2021 there will be 15 primary age children at Ulva Ferry, of which 11 will live in housing owned by MICT.
MICT Housing Project Officer, Helen MacDonald, commented, ‘we are delighted to hand over the keys to these new homes today. The number of applications received confirms just how desperate the housing situation is here on Mull, and we a glad to be able to make a small difference.’
Jennifer Higgins, Managing Director at The Wee House Company, comments: “It’s been a pleasure working with the proactive team at MICT, delivering these much-needed affordable homes for the people of Mull. Delivery of the 4 high-quality homes, in such a short time frame, to a remote location, is testament to the positive attitude of all involved in this project and to the benefits and efficiencies of off-site modular construction. We’re delighted to hand these houses over to their new residents this week and wish them many years of happiness living in our houses”.
USCA Convenor, Josh Liddle, added, ‘it is fantastic to welcome four new households to Ulva Ferry, which will really boost local jobs and our primary school roll, and make for a stronger community overall’.
This project was made possible via grants from the Scottish Land Fund, the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund and Argyll & Bute Council’s Strategic Housing Fund, a mortgage from Ecology Building Society, and many local donations. Funding for the Project Officer’s post to manage the delivery of the project was provided by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Nationwide Foundation and Highlands & Islands Enterprise. Invaluable support has been provided by Rural Housing Scotland, Community Land Scotland and West Highland Housing Association.
Thanks to the innovative modular design, construction on site by The Wee House Company took just 7 months and was completed on budget, despite taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic and a very cold winter. Each house is made of between 4 and 6 modules, depending on the size of the finished home and 90% of construction was completed under factory conditions in the company’s Cumnock facility, meaning site preparations could be completed in tandem. From delivery of the modules to residents moving in took a matter of weeks.
Get in touch
If you would like to discuss affordable housing issues – and potential solutions – anywhere on Mull and Iona, please contact Helen MacDonald on 01680 812 912, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
As part of a national programme of events marking Community Land Week, Ulva School Community Association (USCA) and Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT) held a celebratory event at Ulva Ferry on 16th August 2019. Blessed with sunny weather after a week of rain, community members gathered at a plot at Oskamull, recently purchased by MICT on behalf of the Ulva Ferry community, with funding from the Scottish Land Fund. Local children planted tree saplings and wildflower seed bombs, made at Ulva Primary the previous day, and buried a time capsule full of local memories, mementoes and pictures, and not to be opened until 2050. The day was rounded off with a family ceilidh at the school, with local musicians and a BBQ.
Grateful thanks were extended to everyone who helped make it a special day: Lucy from Lip na Cloiche Garden for donating the tree saplings, Iain MacKay for carrying out the fencing, pupils and staff Ulva Primary School for all their help and enthusiasm, the Mimi Spence Ceilidh Band for the excellent music, Alan Jack for MC duties and Còisir Òg Mhuile for lovely singing. Particular thanks go to the extremely hardworking USCA committee for all their organisational efforts.
As USCA Secretary Anna Hogan commented, ‘’The warmth and joy of this event were utterly beautiful. The tree planting was about the children and their future, which is, of course, what the affordable housing plans are all about. It was great to see so many children and their families, young and old joining in, to help and to have great fun! Thanks to everyone who played a part, including Community Land Scotland.’ MICT General Manager, Moray Finch, added, ‘It’s a privilege to be able to support our local community and to see the hard work of so many people coming to fruition. The results are there for all to see with so many children helping plant the time capsule. There is more work to do though; in the time taken for us to build the first 2 houses, another 4 homes at Ulva Ferry are now self-catering or second homes’.
MICT are delighted to receive a grant of £18,000 from the Prince’s Countryside Fund in their most recent round of Rural Four funding, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Rural Four aims to support communities in the British countryside cope with isolation and its related issues, with a focus on connecting residents and encouraging the development of community hubs.
The grant for Mull and Iona Community Trust will build on an existing project to part fund a Housing Project Officer, overseeing the development of four new houses for long term affordable rent in Ulva Ferry, on the Isle of Mull. MICT aims to work with the local community to ensure that key decisions at all stages of the project are made by community members, from design through to allocation.
Mull and Iona Community Trust General Manager, Moray Finch, commented, “We are delighted to receive this grant from The Prince’s Countryside Fund, which will enable our Housing Project Officer to take forward plans to deliver four houses for long-term affordable rent at Ulva Ferry on the rural west coast of the Isle of Mull”.
Community member Josh Liddle, added, “Four houses might not seem much, but in our small community these much-needed new homes will ensure there are more pupils in our primary school, more working age adults to boost local employment and a stronger community overall. This support from The Prince’s Countryside Fund will ensure we can make our plans a reality.”
The Prince’s Countryside Fund is open for grant applications until February 21st 2019. Grants of up to £25,000 are available to support community shop and pub projects in rural areas, or grants of up to £50,000 are available for projects that improve the prospects of viability for family farm businesses or support building resilience in rural areas.
The Prince’s Countryside Fund was established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2010 and aims to enhance the prospects of family farm businesses and the quality of rural life. We believe that the British countryside is our most valuable natural asset and its contribution to our everyday life cannot be underestimated.