A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Monday became Housing day and we headed off to Dornoch to see some affordable housing to be opened by housing minister Margaret Burgess.


Turned out that when we were there we decided to make for Helmsdale for another gathering, this time the Community did their own house building.


It was an early start and made Dornoch in plenty of time but spent about twenty minutes finding the right street. Small gathering of builders, new tenant and family, HSCHT representatives in Alison and Ronnie


alongside politicians, Rob Gibson


and aforementioned Margaret Burgess.


Wander round the house and a chat with the tenant’s son. Short family history and how grateful he was to get the house. £350p/a fuel bill and cost around £100,000 to build. A bit more realistic to have a warm and dry roof over your head. On up the road to Helmsdale, only a few miles away and coming so far it was a shame not to see what they were up to. Their “local consultation survey” was very similar to ours and had affordable housing at the top of the list. The key word in the sentence is affordable. And as usual the hoops they had to jump through were enormous but that seems to be the way. They were so proud of their achievement in Helmsdale, lots of kids and smiley faces.


They have arrested their declining school role and it is now increasing. Classic case of community empowerment. Lots of chat about renewable storage and filling stations.

Back at Dornoch and I got chatting to the tenant’s son and Alison to the tenant


and there was a sad but nice story. His wife had broken her hip and triggered an onset of dementia which meant she was now in a home in Dornoch. He had been living on his son’s croft but now with the house he could visit his wife at the care home. Worth building a house for alone. both Alison and I had political chats about housing or the lack of it and got to chat with Rob briefly about MoD. Also have Rhoda, MSP, on the case and slightly disturbed at the reply from the ministry she received. They claim they are reopening the Rona Range. Tricky one as it has never been closed. PR I suspect when they go ahead with their closure. It was a beautiful day on the east and the architecture is so different from back home. Went to see the Lateral North exhibition in Timespan with a lovely picture of Tom and Lesley and another of the Applecross kids prominent on the wall.


They have such a strong historical link to the land and having it ripped off them. Cannot help but feel the Duke’s statue looking over the whole area.


Back late afternoon and after tea went down to Toscaig to view the renovated byre.



Derek has done a fine job in a major rescue.


Although in theory it has been passed down with the croft that my Seanair worked, I have had little use for it after it being a bait shed and then the roof came off in one of the winter gales. Now a fine basket weaving shed.


Grand chat about housing with maybe slightly differing opinions but that is what makes us tick. The essence of what I believe in is the Common Weal and is inclusive, working out solutions with as little detriment to those around. Views, ideals, ambitions, wants and needs compromised for a genuine Common Good. Intriguing little tackety boot




found while the renovation to place.

Comments on: "Housing still a Priority." (6)

  1. I don’t think there is anywhere in the country that doesn’t have an affordable housing problem. Unfortunately as soon as you sell affordable houses their value goes up and when they come up for sale again (which they will) they are not affordable and you are left with the same problem again, unless you keep them in public ownership.

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      There is new scheme on the go at the moment where there is a rent to buy but there remains a “burden” on the property. This keeps it “affordable” It is hard work protecting communities from market driven forces which can decimate those communities. There are almost as many reasons for people to have second homes as there are second homes and it can be a divisive issue that people take personally. i leave that to the individuals to sort out. When the housing stock is 50% empty or commercial you start to worry that a tipping point may be reached soon. Right to buy here has been with drawn and the housing assoc right to buy is not planned for up here. Some people do not want to get on the property ladder and fair enough. It certainly complicated but it is top of our “needs” list alongside employment.

  2. Fair point Ali. These things are never explained in the media when they go on about building more affordable housing and it has always seen like an Achilles heel on the whole thing to me.

  3. Most of the houses (8/12) we saw on Monday were affordable rented housing and so will always remain affordable. HSCHT and Helmsdale Development Trust use a local lettings policy to ensure the houses go to people with an existing local connection.

  4. Darren said:

    The byre is looking superb Ali. We had a look around with Sarah when we up. Some fine baskets will be coming out of there very soon.
    D and K

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      Derek made a great job of it. Lovely to see it alive again. Got lots of memories of when I was a kid coming over in the holidays of lambs and calf in there. good to see you at the the wedding, take care. A

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