HIE is investing £154,000 towards the construction of six business and office units in a bid to regenerate the community of West Harris.
The West Harris Trust plans to develop the facilities at Horgabost as part of a project which includes a community venue, office space for trust staff, a children’s play area, and provisions for caravans and campervans.
The community got a kick-start when the Scottish Government sold the 16,254-acre district of West Harris to the people in January 2010.
The land is made up of three estates covering the townships of Scaristavore, Borve and Luskentyre. There have been fears for its long term prospects unless new people are attracted into the community of West Harris which currently has a population of 123.
The trust hopes that projects to create jobs and develop small scale renewable energy projects will reverse the trend of depopulation. Other projects planned by the trust include building affordable housing and helping generate income by improving the tourism potential of the area.
The proposed units will be the first in the area and there has already been a number of people interested in locating their business there.
The facilities are designed to be built using timber cladding and turf roofs which will lower the visual impact in an exceptional landscape in a National Scenic Area. They will also be more energy efficient by minimising heat loss.”
HIE has worked closely with the trust for some time. HIE’s Development Manager, Lewis Mackenzie, said: “HIE believes that the community ownership is the key to growing the population and enhancing the area. We are very supportive of the development of business units in the area which will provide prospects for business expansion for the community of West Harris. HIE is very supportive of this social enterprise and we look forward to the benefits that community ownership and a dynamic development can bring.”
In 2010 HIE along with public sector partners supported the trust to enable them to acquire the land and proceed with their plans.
Duncan Macpherson, Commercial Development Manager, said: “Previous assistance from HIE has been key to developing our community land ownership aspirations. We are delighted with the support we are receiving for the units and we are now are in a much better position to continue with our plans. The building will be located in a fantastic location on the west side of Harris.
“We are hoping that these light industrial business units will attract a number of businesses and would suit those working in the arts and crafts sector, who are already located in West Harris and are looking to grow, but also interest is welcome from people who are looking to move to a stunning world-class location.”