Uist community food hub​ will offer “a focal point”

Architect's visualisation of Tagsa Uibhist's proposed Community Food Hub and Covered Market for Balivanich. (Pic: Studio Hebrides/Tagsa Uibhist)Architect's visualisation of Tagsa Uibhist's proposed Community Food Hub and Covered Market for Balivanich. (Pic: Studio Hebrides/Tagsa Uibhist)
Architect's visualisation of Tagsa Uibhist's proposed Community Food Hub and Covered Market for Balivanich. (Pic: Studio Hebrides/Tagsa Uibhist)
​Plans for a new community food hub and covered outdoor market in Balivanich have reached a significant milestone, with the submission of a formal planning application.

​Developers Tagsa Uibhist say the project could play a major part in reducing food poverty and addressing local inequality.

After submitting their planning application to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Chief Executive, Chris MacLullich, said in a statement that the organisation hopes to develop “a focal point for community efforts to make local food available to people here and also for sales to visitors to Uist.”

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“We are really excited about the prospect of building such an important community asset here in Benbecula, and are delighted that this project is being considered as part of the Islands Growth Deal,” he said.

“The idea of the Uist Community Food Hub has evolved through our programme of local food markets in which dozens of local crofters, gardeners, fishers and local food businesses have been selling their produce.

“Our concept also draws on our on-going work to develop local food value chains and market linkages for everyday and fresh nutritious food products for local people as well as the tourist market.”

In November, it was revealed that Tagsa Uibhist, a community-based charity whose aim is to promote health and well-being in Uist, had already teamed up Maclean’s Bakery to deliver hot meals to individuals who are being cared for at home.

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The Community Food Hub would contribute to its efforts to see increased access to low cost, fresh, nutritious food, along with an increase in the quantities of food grown and consumed locally, and would enable an increase in local horticultural skills and knowledge.

A design statement submitted by Tagsa Uibhist as part of its planning application, states that the proposed new facility would be located within the existing, and thriving, Community Garden at East Camp, Balivanich.

Mr MacLullich said: “The building will be multi-functional – as a venue for regular local food markets, for our ‘Refillery’, for NeighbourFood and for meetings and training for crofters, local producers and businesses to take forward an agenda of community wealth building around local food.”

“The Food Hub will also have a training kitchen which will also be used to create new products from our Community Gardens.

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“As a welcoming space, nestled in our Community Gardens, we believe that this new development will be a significant community asset which many people will benefit from.”

The proposed covered market, adjacent to the hub, would, the design statement says, be sited to allow “as much protection as possible from the elements”, whilst also providing ‘a focal point’ for visitors to the hub.

The design concept for both buildings is to form “a protected walled garden”, with “informal courtyard spaces”.

Last year, Tagsa Uibhist received a Design Grant Award of £8,550 from the Community Locally Led Development fund to design a Uist Community Food Hub.