Tobermory Worker Accommodation Project: Work Starts on Site

Work has started on site to deliver much needed worker accommodation in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. Argyll & Bute Council is delivering the project on Council-owned land at Rockfield in the town, having secured grant funding from the Scottish Government’s Islands Programme Fund, Place Based Investment Programme and Crown Estates. These grants have enabled the initial groundworks to take place to open up the site, including an access road and services connections for electricity, water and sewage.

The need for dedicated worker accommodation across Mull & Iona has been well evidenced by Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT), which commissioned a Feasibility Study in 2022, and a follow up Economic Impact Assessment in early 2023. The feasibility study confirmed there were 133 unfilled vacancies on the islands, and a further 127 living in unsuitable accommodation, representing 7% of the islands’ workforce. The EIA quantified that should this accommodation need be fully met, the islands’ economy could increase by £20.1M GVA per year, and nearly 400 jobs. MICT’s research contributed to the Council securing funding for this project.

Full planning permission has been secured to build a total of 12 units in three blocks, , and currently anticipated to start on site in 2025. MICT is working closely with the Council on the project, and will potentially take on a management role on completion. It is anticipated some units will be rented directly to businesses for staff use, and others being made available as ‘stepping stone’ accommodation for individuals moving to the island to take up key posts, enabling them to search for a permanent home once in post.

A full options appraisal is currently being undertaken to determine the exact mix of units, allocation policy and management of the site, however those in employment locally will be prioritised, and the units will solely be used for such purposes, and never as holiday lets. The Council is now working to secure funding to deliver the remaining two blocks, supported by MICT.

The Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Jim Lynch, said: “We are committed to addressing the housing shortage in Argyll and Bute and, since the council declared a housing emergency last year, we have been working hard to deliver a variety of initiatives to address the issue.

“This new development on the Isle of Mull will open the door to more accommodation for key workers who often struggle to find somewhere to stay, and is just one example of the many actions we’re taking to increase housing capacity in the area.”

MICT’s Housing Development Manager commented, “we hear every day of the difficulties local businesses and organisations are facing in recruiting and retaining staff, and this is not only impacting on the viability of businesses and the effectiveness of our essential services, but also on the sustainability of our island communities as a whole. To see work now taking place on site is really positive”.

Local business owner, Joe Reade, added, “This is a great first step in addressing a part of the islands’ housing issues. The extreme scarcity of affordable housing is not just a huge social problem, but economic too. Island businesses like ours could be growing and employing many more people, if only there was somewhere for their employees to live. People who have grown up on the island cannot take up employment opportunities, and those who would like to move here to work and live can’t find a home. A vibrant, sustainable and healthy community can’t be built on holiday homes and retirement cottages alone. We look forward to more projects like this from the Council and MICT.”

Any local businesses wishing more details should contact Helen MacDonald, Housing Development Manager at MICT: email