Following various meetings and consultations last year we now have a summary of ‘The Lochcarron Community Plan’, please bear in mind that due to the current pandemic little progress has been made, however, if you wish further information or if you are keen to be involved in the development of any of the potential projects, then please get in touch email@example.com.
Affordable Housing in Kirkton Woodlands
After lengthy deliberations Lochcarron Community Development Company is pleased to announce that James MacQueen Building Contractors, Crossal, have been appointed contractors to the Kirkton Woodlands Affordable Housing Project. Phase One of the three phase development will construct 14 units of varying sizes, 8 flats and 6 houses, the option to purchase an affordable plot for self build purposes will also be made available.
Representatives from the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) The Highland Council (THC) and Lochcarron Community Development Company (LCDC) will present the plans to the community on 27th July, 4,30-7.00pm Lochcarron Hall, Social distancing measures adhered to.
Our last Community Development Plan was undertaken some years ago, much progress has been made on the projects that were highlighted for development, some are still ongoing. We need input from everyone in the community to determine LCDC’s projects and priorities for the next few years. Please fill in and return one of these forms. PM or email us if you need help with the forms. You can also fill it in online. or download the PDF here Lochcarron Survey June 2020 FINAL
online link – https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/lochcarron
- Housing – the two tenders submitted to HSCHT for work in connection with the affordable housing project are currently under review, it is anticipated that the successful applicant will be announced within the next 2 weeks, an open meeting will be arranged shortly afterwards to introduce the development plans to the community.
- Lochcarron Development Plan. Preparation of the proposed community engagement exercise, aimed at gathering and analysing data to provide a fair focus of prioritised projects for the whole community to cover the period 2020-2025 is almost complete and we hope it will shortly be underway. The process will include a household survey, analysing engagement responses and delivering the key results to the community in the form of a summary document. Thereafter, projects prioritised for development will proceed to the next phase.
- Market Days – Our 2020 Season opens Friday April 24th and thereafter the last Friday of the month until late Autumn.
- Woodland Shelter – Our shelter is now available for use by volunteer parties and those participating in workshop/training events.
- Series of Woodland based Activities – Plans are ongoing to introduce a series of woodland based activities for all ages.
- Café Ceardach – Opening hours will be extended from late March, check out our social media pages for updates.
- Workshops and Skills Development – as part of our ongoing commitment we would be interested to hear from anyone interested in tutoring art/craft or rural skills based workshops, also prospective participants, let us know what subject matter interests you. Over the years we’ve covered a plethora of subjects from basket-weaving and bushcraft to a variety of LANTRA accredited courses
Proposed Hotel- Update 21/02/2020
Good Evening All
In keeping with my commitment to let you know factual information as it becomes available regarding progress in the investigation and feasibility study to commence consultations with the community and LCDC regarding a potential hotel development please see below an email sent to us (LCDC) today from the directors of Bealach Ltd, the potential developer, which is self explanatory.
I have also included below the statement received last night from Bell Ingram again confirming that no agreement has or had been entered into for the sale of land in Kirkton Woodland.
I am also in possession of the list of 7 HIE officials who had been involved in discussions with the directors of Bealach Ltd in relation to this project.
These facts clearly substantiate and reflect the status as described by LCDC as the actual position of the enquiry.
Colin Sharp – Chair – LCDC
From: Gregor Bulloch
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2020 at 09:02
Subject: Bealach update
To: kristine mackenzie
So as mentioned 2 weeks ago in our previous email, the 3 founders of our hotel project (Allan, Gordon and Gregor) have been analysing the project in detail as we are at a critical point when we are about to invest significant funds to take the project forward. We also had a third party provide a detailed financial review for us prior to the formal funding round.
From a financial perspective, the business case has been impacted by both rising build costs and operational costs as well as material risks of Brexit and staffing. The interest rates we were being offered by those banks we were in discussions with were also higher than originally anticipated. These factors combined have limited our ability to create the hotel we had in mind when we started the project.
With all that in mind, we have chosen to put the project on hold indefinitely. We are going to consider other options but for now, please assume no further work will take place.
On behalf of the 3 of us, I’d like to thank you for your efforts to date, it’s been a pleasure to work with you. We are all disappointed that we have been unable to proceed with this but with all things considered, stopping now feels like the right thing to do for all involved, including our partners, as there is no point in us collectively investing more time, effort and money to then stop at a later stage.
Best regards and all the very best for the future,
Allan, Gordon & Gregor.
Further statement from Bell Ingram
An inaccuracy in our EIA screening submission has been drawn to our attention as it appears to be causing some concern within the community. We can confirm that absolutely no agreement has been entered into for the sale of the land in Kirkton Woodland with any party to our knowledge. All that has been agreed is that we would have permission to make such enquiries as are necessary to establish whether the site at Kirkton Woods is suitable for our intended purpose. If the site proves to be suitable, then we would clearly wish to engage with the Community and Lochcarron Community Development Company at that stage.
Regards Iain B Cram Director Bell Ingram Design Limited,
Hotel Development – The Facts- 12/02/2020
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?
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,
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
A longer than expected turnaround of grant funding applications across 3 key
Substantial delays in certain bespoke building materials sourced from Denmark.
Recruitment issues due to the timing of the opening being so far through the
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
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
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
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.
Chair – LCDC
This gallery contains 263 photos.
this project is funded by ;
One of our community owned business premises was formerly known as the iGallery. It housed the local visitor information point, showcased & retailed local craft work, art and produce. This was run by volunteers and proved to be a success, appreciated by visitors and locals alike. It opened 6 months a year and in the winter months the venue was used to host meetings, seminars, adult learning events, a Christmas Craft Fair and classes in a wide range of rural and vocational subjects. Some of our local craft exhibitors went on to grow their starter businesses or even open their own shops.
LCDC is committed to creating jobs, training opportunities and community led development in the area and at the Smithy Hub. There has been a demand for greater on site service provision (from both locals and visitors), So it was decided to expand the iGallery from it’s roots as a craft space, training venue and visitor information point, into a Cafe/ Deli as well. It will be called Café Ceàrdach, Ceàrdach is the Gaelic for ‘Smithy’, named after the original building on site, the 200yr old Blacksmiths Building. Café Ceàrdach will be open all year around and provide local jobs and learning opportunities, on site catering for a range of requirements, a dedicated local produce retail outlet, whilst continuing to provide an important information service to visitors and an outlet for local producers, crafters, artists and micro businesses to sell their work and access a wider customer base. The cafe aspect of the project will attract more visitors to the Smithy hub, keep people in the area for longer and provide catering for students and visitors to the other businesses on site. It is owned and run by LCDC, with managers and assistants employed for the day to day running of the project.
The ethos of the cafe is very much in keeping with that of LCDC, about community, sustainability, local heritage, culture, rural skills, minimal waste, responsible consumerism, community resilience, inclusivity, education, low carbon footprint, supporting local businesses and tourism, promoting, educating about and protecting our environment.
The cafe will also have a bike store, a water bottle refill point, and electric car recharge points. It will be heated in the winter by a cosy wood-burning stove, which will burn logs from out local community woodland.
Upon completion of the Café, the Smithy hub will become a perfect way to spend the day with shopping, crafts workshops, events, catering, a short scenic walk, picnic tables, and unique Tree House venue for hire. The Former Blacksmiths building on site now houses a working studio pottery and teaching facility. Lochcarron Candles operate out of an adjacent crafts unit, hand pouring quality fragranced candles. Next to the Cafe is Kiki’s craft corner, open all year for retailing everything the textile artist, knitters, spinners and quilters could need, this also runs a comprehensive programme of training courses.
LCDC also has ongoing projects in Kirkton community woodland, including working with Lochcarron School pupils, building a sensory trail, and an affordable housing project.
Work on Café Ceàrdach is progressing we hope to be open in the coming weeks.
You can follow the building progress HERE.
You can also get all the latest news and photographs on our FaceBook page HERE.
and follow us on instagram HERE.
this project is funded by;
The Smithy Hub, Ribhuachan, Strathcarron,
Part Time General Assistant
20 hours per week
Starting late June
Just get in touch