Mull and Iona Community Trust are working with Ulva School Community Association (USCA) to deliver an ambitious second phase of affordable housing at Ulva Ferry. Following the success of Phase 1 of the project, and evidence of an ongoing acute housing need locally, we committed to investigating the potential to deliver more housing in 2017 – not long after our first houses were completed.
Extensive feasibility work concluded there was indeed a real housing need, not just for families, but also for young people starting out, for local businesses trying to recruit staff, and for older people living in the community. We successfully purchased land at Oskamull in September 2018 via the Scottish Land Fund, and will build two houses here, along with a further two houses at Acharonich, on a plot gifted to the community as part of the previous housing project.
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’.
Building in a remote, island setting incurs additional costs including installing private water supplies, redistributing electricity poles, ferry transportation and other infrastructure costs. As such, projects like ours can cost up to 25% more than a similar project in an urban area.
We are very grateful to the Scottish Government for a grant of £777,855 from the Rural & Islands Housing Fund towards build costs. Along with a grant of £48,000 from Argyll & Bute Council, a mortgage from Ecology Building Society and many individual donations, we have now secured a full funding package. We are also grateful to the Scottish Land Fund, The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Nationwide Community Fund and Highlands & Islands Enterprise for funding our Project Officer’s post. We are working hard behind the scenes and hope to formally appoint our contractor in the coming months. We aim for the four houses to be completed by April 2021.
Affordable Rental Housing
Our two and three bedroom houses will be offered with secure tenancies to those in housing need. Rents will be affordable, in line with social housing on Mull, and our well insulated homes will be affordable to heat. A locally agreed allocation policy will be used to prioritise applications. While MICT is a registered private landlord, we are working with West Highland Housing Association, who offer assistance with our allocations, management support, and advice to tenants.
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.