By Kristine MacKenzie, Lochcarron Development Officer
The community of Lochcarron (and surrounding settlements) has been selected as an area where enhanced support under a new approach called Fas aig an Oir (Growth at the Edge – Phase Two), can achieve innovative and sustainable community development. This approach is being developed by H.I.E. and is designed to support the most remote and disadvantaged communities. HIE and LEADER have co-funded the services, of local Development Officer. Kristine MacKenzie who will work with the appointed local anchor organisation, Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group.
One of the service requirements is to produce a “Growth Plan” for the area which takes into account the community’s vision for the next 5 years, and uses this vision to establish priorities for development. Phase One of the Lochcarron Growth Plan, set out to assess the main areas of potential community development. The H.I.E. Lochcarron Survey Report together with various surveys carried out by the anchor organisation, Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group, highlighted the following areas as most important for future development;
- More employment opportunities including the development of Kishorn Port
- Development of Kirkton Woodland for amenity, recreation and employment
- More affordable housing
- Expansion of Howard Doris Centre
- Need for industrial units and craft workshops
- Investigate the potential for renewable energy projects
- Various support mechanisms to support small businesses including crofting
- Various environmental improvements
- More activities for tourists including improved access for outdoor activities
- Better road infrastructure and maintenance
- Leisure Centre
- Higher standard of Broadband provision
The main focus, at the moment is on two community projects, both projects aim to create employment and aid business development;
Acquisition of Kirkton Woodland
The KWHG application to the National Forest Land Scheme to purchase Kirkton Woodland has been successful. Fundraising events to assist the purchase of the woodland are scheduled to take place throughout the year.
- Creation of the Smithy Cultural Centre (4 phase development)
This project is progressing well, Phase One, refurbishing the office to create a community kitchen and WC is complete. Phase Two, the Treehouse construction, will be available for hire from Easter. Phase Three, the erection of two craft workshops is due to begin shortly. Phase Four, the renovation and refurbishment of the old Smithy will take place when funding allows.