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Applecross land bid aims to pave way for community woodland and affordable housing project

By Hector MacKenzie

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Polycrub shed.
Polycrub shed.

A WESTER Ross community trust is hoping to set a milestone in a project to create affordable housing after applying for funding applications to acquire new land.

The Applecross Community Company (ACC) has submitted two funding applications to the Scottish Land Fund, which would allow it to buy 5.8 acres of land from the Hydro Field and the Torgarve Woodland, both owned by the Applecross Trust, and put them under community ownership.

The two fund requests, amounting to £156,060 and £163,696 respectively, will allow the company to go ahead with a long-sought affordable housing project and the creation of a community woodland.

Roslyn Clark. Picture: Annie MacDonald
Roslyn Clark. Picture: Annie MacDonald

ACC local development officer, Roslyn Clarke, said: “There is a real momentum about Applecross at the moment and the community engagement is the key.

“We really hope to get this funding, it’s been so long coming for the community company to buy land for affordable housing projects and we really hope that the effort behind it will be rewarded.”

The purchase of the Hydro Field would aims to provide eight affordable housing units as well as two workshop spaces and community allotments, and is part of the strategy to would address the significant shortage of housing in Applecross.

The ownership of Torgarve Woods, which was offered in 2018 by the Applecross Trust, would include the introduction of evergreen and native tree species in the forest, as the ones currently present are at risk of windfall and would need to be clear-felled.

Saara Viitanen. Picture: Annie MacDonald
Saara Viitanen. Picture: Annie MacDonald

Local development officer for ACC, Saara Viitanen, said: “We conducted a feasibility study last winter with our Community Woodland Group and the help of the Community Woodland Association to look into different options of how we could use the forest. The conclusion was that the community wanted to use it for educational purposes, involving the local school, creating signs for visitors and highlighting the archaeological heritage features within the forest.

“This project engaged members of the community who work in forestry as well as those who are very passionate about trees and plants and will create a local job for a woodland manager to manage the community projects and the woodlands after the clear-felling.

“It’s a really exciting time for us. We have been really lucky to secure a lot of funding for our projects recently but this has been the effort not only of us but of people that may have been involved years ago and some that have left the community since.”

Archie MacLellan, Applecross Trust executive administrator, said: “The Applecross Trust is committed to working in partnership with the Applecross Community Company and to facilitate and engage in opportunity for sustainable community development. The Trust is the guardian of much of the landscape on the peninsula. It is our priority to ensure that this landscape and the people within it continue to thrive and grow. We want to see an Applecross where people can sustainably live and work. Providing this land for community use helps to achieve that goal and we are pleased to be a part of it.”

“We really hope to get this funding, it’s been so long coming for the community company to buy land for affordable housing projects and we really hope that the effort behind it will be rewarded.”- Roslyn Clark

Ms Clark added: “We have a lot of different projects going on, but they are all linked. Reducing our carbon footprint, protecting the woodland, introducing more opportunities and social and health benefits for the local community and supporting the creation of affordable housing, these all aim to create a sustainable community.”

Only two weeks ago, the trust was awarded almost £310,000 of funding to go towards the construction of three affordable houses in Camusterrach for people with accessibility needs, and is now developing a community allotments scheme - Appleseed - with a new polytunnel and a shed close to completion.

Related: Applecross secures community support funding

'Amazing' volunteers hailed in clean-up drive

Seeds of Applecross allotment scheme are sown

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