North Harris community launches commercial units to attract business

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The North Harris Trust is now seeking applications from prospective tenants of the first new purpose-built business space in Harris in over a decade.

The trust is at an advanced stage in constructing three self-contained units on land in East Tarbert with the aim to create new jobs to help reverse the migration of working age people from the community.

Since July, work has been underway on previously unused croft land to the east of Tarbert to construct three detached units.

In 2013, the North Harris Trust secured over £500,000 in funding from the Big Lottery, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to build facilities with the specific aim of attracting new jobs and training opportunities to the island.

The high cost of construction in Harris and the perceived lack of demand have meant that no commercial developer has ever considered this sort of project.

As a community development trust, the North Harris Trust has managed to convince funders that if the units are built and made available on flexible lease terms at economic rents, then businesses will come and bring with them new employment opportunities.

Contractors started preparing the ground for the three new architect-designed properties in July and since then over 1600 tons of rock has been excavated to create new access and level plots for the buildings.

The Iomairt an Obain development consists of three 66 square metre larch-clad units, which have been designed to be energy efficient with plenty of natural light and their own solar panels for generating electricity.

Each unit has a workshop area, office and toilet and is designed for business and light industrial use. They are scheduled to be completed at the end of January 2015.

Richard Barrett, Vice Chair of North Harris Trading Company said: “This project has been five years in the making and at last we are starting to see something on the ground.

“We are talking to a number of interested parties, but we need to make sure they can deliver on the funders’ requirements. We must find three businesses that will deliver new employment and training opportunities to the North Harris community.”

Any new or existing businesses that can fulfil those requirements and is currently seeking commercial space should contact the North Harris Trust on 01859 502222.

Pictured an artist’s impression of the units.