Staffin is pressing ahead with its aim to build the first new affordable homes for the locality in nearly two decades.
Despite apparent opposition from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) the Staffin Community Trust (SCT) have confirmed that architects have now been appointed to design the six new houses and a business unit proposed for Stenscholl Common Grazings, close to the school and main road.
Back in December the Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund and the Scottish Land Fund both approved grants for the scheme.
That funding has allowed the Trust to appoint Skye architectural firm, Rural Design, to design the development. There will be close consultation with the Stenscholl township’s croft tenants, local residents, the Kilmuir Estate and the wider community.
Writing in the Trust's Winter newsletter they say: "The SCT is leading the project with the Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association and the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust. SCT is determined that Staffin should get affordable homes given that 18 years have now passed since the old school site was developed and is concerned about Staffin’s alarming population decline and the falling school roll.
" SNH's opposition has been known for some time. The environmental agency claims that as you drive into Staffin the houses would affect the view of the Trotternish Ridge, the crofting landscape and the "human" dimension of the crofting settlement in the district.
"The SCT refutes the suggestion that the Trotternish National Scenic Area designation, which blankets Staffin, will be affected and the support we have from the local community and other key organisations echoes that position.
"SCT enjoys a good working relationship with SNH on projects like the Skye Ecomuseum, the Storr and Skye Fossil Communication Loop. It values its input and professional expertise but with regards to the housing situation SCT respectfully disagrees with SNH’s position."
Since September 2014 SCT has worked its way through a major housing survey and study, (funded by Highland Council and Highlands and Islands enterprise) issued a call for sites locally, investigated each suggested location and invited council planners, SNH and housing officials to examine them, while also canvassing views from the Department (the landlord) and the Crofting Commission.