willow structures workshop, report & photos.

It’s been a very successful weekend here at Kirkton community woodland. Willow expert Les Bates from Alligin Willows (Torridon) came along to teach an enthusiastic group how to make a Living Willow tunnel on Friday. The tunnel forms part of the Sensory Trail project, where different textures are laid along a path. On Saturday participants built two benches, one a living willow bench and the other an up-cycled bench made from redundant fence posts.
The benches are sited next to the Mythical Monster statues made from salvaged materials from a beach clean conducted by local primary school children. Thanks to Les for passing on his Willow Wisdom and to our keen participants who brought crisp, clear weather and good cheer. The trail will be officially opened on Wed 20th Nov.
Lynda

Posted in Events, News

Hotel Development – The Facts 

Hotel Development – The Facts 

We have been approached by several organisations and individuals expressing interest in leasing or potentially purchasing some of the woodland for commercial enterprise. These have ranged from use for storage, manufacture of wood products, manufacture of timber structures to construction of a hotel.

The constitution of LCDC dictates that we must evaluate all approaches made and this we will continue to comply with and of course nothing can be progressed until AFTER community consultation.

At this moment in time LCDC have NOT entered into or agreed to enter into any commercial arrangement with any of these parties nor have we agreed to sell any land whatsoever.

A recent planning application has been misconstrued as an application to construct a hotel when in fact the application, as you will see from the statement below issued by the companies agents, Bell Ingram, is merely to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It also incorrectly states that LCDC has agreed to sell the land, this is NOT the case. How could we agree to sell a plot of land without knowing it’s value both in terms of absolute value and value to the proposed purchaser, as you will appreciate the two are not necessarily the same.

I understand local rumour is that this is a budget hotel. This is pure fantasy. From the brief conversation that I have been party to the aim is for 5-star top end accommodation with a Michelin style restaurant. Hardly competition for any of the B&Bs, holiday lets, hotels or eateries already in the village.

LCDC will always ensure that the community are made aware and consulted before any changes are made to the assets of LCDC and this was indeed the agreement that we had with the stakeholders in this case.

As this is only an enquiry at this point it would be far too premature to communicate this widely and this communication seeks to clarify where we are.

We have been made aware of many vitriolic and unfounded criticisms and unfortunately some have seen fit to make personal attacks on members and employees of LCDC which is both ill-informed and unjust.

We have on several occasions and indeed our Chair in his last An Carrannach article asked that should anyone have a question then please ask us and get the truth rather than relying on inaccurate rumour. But then why let the truth get in the way of a good rumour?

Thank you

LCDC Directors.


Statement by the companies agents, Bell Ingram

From early 2019 Bell Ingram have been undertaking a review of the route of the North Coast 500, to establish if there are any suitable sites for new hotels.  One of those sites identified as having potential for such a development was the village of Lochcarron.  The access to a railway station, and the link from the A890 to Kyle of Lochalsh and on to Skye, making it particularly attractive as somewhere travellers might be persuaded to pause and stay for a few days rather than rush off on their way round the north coast.

 As part of this review process we submit an EIA Screening Request to Highland Council to establish if there are any recorded constraints on development in the area, that might have an impact upon any future proposals.  This is still a very speculative stage in any development, and until we have all the necessary information, we would not normally expect to commence any form of community engagement.  We acknowledge that the process of submitting the EIA screening has been the cause of some concern within the community, and embarrassment for Lochcarron Community Development Company, who kindly allowed us to investigate the potential of the land at Kirkton Woods.  We apologise for any unnecessary upset caused by this submission, of which they were not warned in advance. 

If at the end of this review process, Lochcarron remains a site that we would be interested in pursuing, then we will discuss this in detail with LCDC, and present our thoughts and proposals to the community at large.  To do so at this stage would be very premature however, as it is quite possible that we will not move beyond this stage in the Lochcarron area.

Bell Ingram Design Limited,


infosmithyhub@gmail.com

Posted in Development information, News | Tagged , ,

Monsters in Kirkton Woodland !

You may have thought Halloween was over but not here at the Kirkton Community Woodland!
Two mythical monsters have appeared and are eagerly waiting their official unveiling.  The monsters are part of the Sensory Trail, currently under construction with the aid of volunteers.  For those still interested in coming along to help please do get in touch with Lynda Beveridge on beveridge.lynda@yahoo.co.uk  to see how you can get involved.  Perhaps you have a few hours to spare to help construct the last part of the trail or to help out at the showcase event on Wed 20th Nov.  Look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Events, News

October Market Day 2019

Many thanks to everyone who attended our last Market day of the year, thanks to everyone for all the support throughout the year in coming together for this social and fundraising event. Extra thanks to our volunteers who have kept things going, especially when the kitchen has been short handed.
These photos were captured by Lynne Roberts on Friday.
Before the next market day in April 2020 you can always come along to Café Ceàrdach – with deli, crafts, gallery, visitor info & learning for local crafts, produce, and home cooked food from local sources.

Posted in Events, News

Christmas Fair at Cafe Ceardach 2019

Christmas Fair at Cafe Ceardach
Friday 29th November to Tuesday 3rd December – 10am to 3pm – art/crafts/baking and more, come along and browse the stalls or just take a break for a light lunch or tea and cakes. For further information ring 01520 722952/490 or e.mail kristinestrathcarron@gmail

photo (c) Annice MacLeod 2019

photo (c) Annice MacLeod 2019

photo (c) Annice MacLeod 2019

Lynnes Christmas goodies

Posted in Café Ceàrdach, Events, News

Chair’s Report- Year Ended 5th April 2019

Chair’s Report Year Ended 5 th April 2019

First of all, LCDC survives because of the substantial efforts & commitment of a Small
Army of Volunteer’s and we as members of LCDC owe them all a massive debt of gratitude.
The 2018/2019 financial year has been one of substantial challenge to both the LCDC
board and its subsidiary trading businesses. Whilst the boards directors have remained
consistent throughout the year, the level of workload due to the wide range of
forthcoming suggested projects has led the board to consider the possibility of seeking to
identify potential suitable skilled and qualified members who can assist the board in an
advisory capacity to add resilience and further widen the skill set. This will form part of
the ongoing review regularly completed by the board to augment the work commissioned
during 2018/19 by HIE.

Whilst the primary focus of LCDC will always be to support the community in realising
increased employment and training opportunities, availability of affordable housing and
supporting local traditional arts and crafts, the primary focus of the board during the
year has been to establish a sustainable revenue stream in order to support the many
projects directly aimed at satisfying its primary objectives of providing employment,
training and affordable housing opportunities to the community whilst continuing to
support traditional arts and crafts.

The financial position of LCDC whilst steadily improving remains one of an organisation
which is asset rich and cash poor and therefore places further urgency in achieving the
sustainable revenue stream as mentioned above to ensure the future financial stability of
LCDC. The position remains further impacted by the decision of HIE to only part fund our
LDO who is key to the success of LCDC and adds a further financial burden on already
stretched resources, but her involvement is crucial and therefore other sources of funding
this deficiency have been identified – Wood fuel/Café Profits.

Many of the areas in which LCDC have historically employed to generate funds to run the
activities of LCDC have been reviewed and challenged by the new board and decisions
have already been taken which will enable a period of financial stability to be maintained
whilst optimising the revenue streams from current assets.

Following the investigations by the board as detailed in this report last year, of the
iGallery and Monthly Producers Market the board has continued to pursue the extension
and conversion of the existing underutilised iGallery building into a Café to optimise
revenue given its location adjacent to the NC500 and limited similar facilities available to tourists and visitors alike locally. Grant funding having been secured, work has already
been completed and was officially opened on 3rd September 2019.

Although slightly later than originally forecast due various issues including but not limited
to-
 A longer than expected turnaround of grant funding applications across 3 key
funders
 Substantial delays in certain bespoke building materials sourced from Denmark.
 Recruitment issues due to the timing of the opening being so far through the
season.

I am sure you will agree the community can be justly proud of the wonderful new
addition to the village facilities, together with much needed employment opportunities.
The new Café Ceàrdach will concentrate on supplying a menu to suit all tastes and
particular those with special dietary requirements but maintaining our commitment to a
green agenda and a low food miles ethos. Café Ceàrdach also houses a delicatessen
selling locally sourced products and produce, a gallery space eventually providing a 7 day
a week shop window for local artists and craftspeople together with a training and
educational space. Its location adjacent to the NC500 should ensure that our goals of
providing an all year-round facility for all, setting us apart from many other local
amenities which operate on a seasonal basis only, can be fully realized to the benefit of
the local community, contractors and visitors.

As indicated above and detailed in last year’s report, the board also investigated various
options regarding the Monthly Producers Market. Whilst in its present format this is not a
financially viable undertaking the board retains its community focus and for this reason
will continue to operate the market for the benefit of the community. The board does
recognise however that with the establishment of the Café Ceàrdach food provided at the
market can be provided from the Café rather than outsourced as has been the case this
season.

The complete occupation of the other buildings at the Smithy Hub site continues and
when one recently became vacant it was quickly filled by a new local craft business.
LCDC policy of maintaining these rents at below market rate to benefit small local
businesses will continue. Occupiers of the other buildings present on the Smithy Hub site
are already reporting increased foot fall and business since the establishment of the Café
facility.

Kirkton Trading continues to supply wood fuel to the local community and at the
beginning of the 2018/19 financial year completed its second felling which will secure
wood fuel stocks for a further 3 years together providing a nett income from the wood sold commercially versus the felling costs. Additional investment has been made in
automated wood chopping and handling equipment and we are currently negotiating the
purchase of a logging trailer to enable quicker and safer deliveries of wood fuel to our
customers.

The education of local schoolchildren in rural skills and bushcraft continues to be a
popular activity and is generally oversubscribed.
Despite an overall very successful year we did have some setbacks.
Our challenge of relocating the West Highland Dairy to a bespoke building on the Smithy
Hub site in order to retain traditional Cheese and Dairy product manufacturing skills
unfortunately could not be realized and although several iterations of funding
applications were submitted the high capital costs involved due to specialist nature of
the food standard manufacturing facility proved nonviable. It is with great regret that the
West Highland Dairy has now closed.

Our plans to facilitate the availability of affordable housing to the local community
continue to gather momentum with the proposed sale of land owned by LCDC for the
development of affordable housing. The sale of this land if successful will enable the site
infrastructure to be established providing a greater opportunity to secure affordable
housing and self-build opportunities for those plots retained by LCDC.
In summary, with the Café Ceàrdach facility opening in September providing a sustainable
revenue stream whilst providing employment, training and shop window opportunities
for the local community the forecast is positive and I look forward to exciting times
ahead where we can consolidate a level of financial stability necessary to deliver our
longer term objectives for the benefit of the community.

Colin Sharp
Chair – LCDC

25/08/19

Posted in Development information, News

Create a willow dome structure on the sensory trail !

lots of great work progressing up in Kirkton woodland with the development of the sensory trail. the next instalment will be a willow dome, come along and learn how to make willow structures from an expert !

**update, this workshop is now full, but names are being taken for a waiting list, so contact if you are still interested **

Posted in Events, News, training