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Calanais Local Development Officer Report

The Urras Tac Chalanais ‘Growth Plan’ has been the main focus of the Local Development Officer remit over the past year or more. The ‘Growth Plan’ is a document containing a list of potential projects that were considered achievable over the duration of the LDO post which was agreed with HIE under their Community Account Management Initiative.  A summary of the progress related to these project targets and other main activities is listed as follows.

  • The main UTC campsite/heritage centre project costed at £2.2m did not proceed due to the main funding application to the lottery being unsuccessful. The focus then turned to proceeding with a unique Camping Pod project located at the original site at Bratanais, however, an alternative site nearer services had to be considered due to the high cost of providing services at Bratanais. Two other sites were considered, the first along the shoreline closer to the Pier and the second alongside the Pier road between the Pier and the Visitor centre and it was decided to establish the Pods at the shoreline site.  Historic Scotland was informed in October 2011 to get an early opinion on the chosen sites and Dr John Raven conducted a site visit in January 2012 with a further site visit by Dr Alan Rutherford & Dr Mairi Davies in March 2012 .
  • Following the HS visit the site layout plan was formed and both the planning and building warrant applications submitted in May 2012. Subsequently in May 2012 Historic Scotland responded to the planning officer and were not in agreement with having a dedicated pathway or permanent lighting on the site.  A path, lighting and a washroom were required in order to comply with the CnES caravanning licence which is needed in order to trade.  The UTC response was sent to CnES planning having altered the plan to try to address the HS concerns by using an unobtrusive plastic matting material for the path and reducing the path lighting. Due to the removal of path lights Environmental Health restricted the trading licence period to the months of April to September.
  • HS then required a ‘Line of Sight’ survey to be carried out to establish that the Pods did not significantly affect or obstruct the views around the Callanish Stones. CnES planning dept agreed to do the survey which was undertaken on 25th July and a report prepared for Historic Scotland.  The CnES planning report was finally sent to HS on 31stOctober and subsequently planning permission was recently granted with related conditions.
  • The Building warrant application was approved on 5th Oct 2012.
  • Various UK Pod camping sites were researched and two mainland Pod suppliers were contacted with also local Builders & Sty Trust given an opportunity to construct the Pods which was not a viable option.
  • A Pod business plan was formulated for submission to the funders and Business gateway. Various meetings were held with Planning officers, Environmental health officer, SEPA, Building control officer and Archaeological officer. Letters of intent to develop were issued to all services BT, Hydro, Scottish Water and various letter sent to private trusts for donations.
  • A Pod supplier was found based near Galasheils called Eildon Lodges,  a Pod design was agreed and he awaits the instruction to begin construction on 3 hire pods and a washroom pod.
  • CnES Planning required a Pod Options Appraisal which was formulated and submitted. This was a document comparing the strengths & weaknesses of different types of Pods.
  • A Pod Community consultation was undertaken as a supporting document for the funding applications and this showed strong community support. All related tourism businesses were also contacted for their views.
  • Pod Cashflow charts, financial projections and a work schedule were prepared
  • The total Pod project cost was estimated at £70,000 and an application for funding was submitted to the LEADER program for 50% grant which was conditionally approved in July 2012.
  • Both the CNES ‘Tourism in the Community Fund’ & the CnES ‘Community Land & Regeneration Fund’ applications which had previously been submitted for the larger campsite development had to be revised to suit the Pod project and resubmitted. Only the ‘Tourism in the Community Fund’ was approved at £20,000. An application to Big Lottery ‘Awards for All’ for £10,000 was approved in July 2012 following refusal of a previous ‘Peoples Postcode’ lottery application for £8K. Also an application to Scottish Community Foundation for £2,000 was successful after having had a previous £10K application refused. Commun na Gaelic approved a grant of £2K.
  • Requests for donations were submitted to both the Breasclete Community Association and the Breasclete Community Council who contributed the sum of £2,000 each which will fulfil the group private contribution. The project funding package of £70,000 is therefore complete but will require bank overdraft during the project construction phase for cashflow purposes. Requests were also issued to other private trusts.
  • HIE was contacted regarding Pod marketing on the newly established OHTIA website & possibly Visit Scotland.
  • The aim is to have the site open for Business in the 2013 season to operate from 1st April to 30th September.
  • An application for a Camping Pod phase 2 was submitted to The Coastal Communities Fund @ £150K in April but was unsuccessful as were almost all applications submitted by other local groups.
  • Website design and construction was carried out with assistance from Island Publishing ltd and the UTC website is now live and provides information & updates on UTC & its activities
  • The Community pathway project led by Breasclete Community Association in partnership with UTC is to be constructed in 3 phases, a total length of 8,300m, with the Calanais related section being approx 4000m. Funding applications to the Scottish Rural Development Program ( SRDP) for £145K and Sustainable Transport Scotland ( Sustrans) for £100K were submitted and a total of £245K was approved for phase 1, which is the Garynahine, Callanish & Breasclete main roads plus the Calanais centre single track.  The applications required detailed financial projections, cashflow charts & work schedules. If planning is approved on 27th November the pathway work may commence in December 2012.  The first funding application for phase 2, which is the Calanais & Breaclete single track loop roads, has been submitted to Community Spaces Scotland for £100K, with a decision expected in February 2013, with a match funding application to be submitted to Sustrans in May 2013.
  • Application to the SRDP for a Land Management scheme submitted in June, a total value of £7,000 over 5 years
  • Urras nan Tursachan meetings were attended discussing the Visitor centre upgrade, potential funding sources, memorandum & articles alterations, a grant application to CnAG, advice on a funding application to the Lottery Growing Community Assets, a community consultation was undertaken in October 2012 in relation to the proposed Centre upgrade.
  • Additional funding sources investigated were The New Enterprise Fund, Santander Economic Development Awards, & The People & Communities Fund, The Landfill Fund, Climate Challenge Fund.
  • Carloway Estate Buyout public meeting was attended and also a subsequent steering group meeting at which Sandra Holmes HIE Head of community assets was present.
  • Other project areas that have been investigated are , the Stornoway Trust Solar project, New Forestry Scheme, Community Energy Scotland schemes, small wind turbine, house sites & marine tourism opportunities
  • CNES Community Portal meeting attended. This is a new online service launched by the Council to enable community groups to share news, events & opinions.
  • Various Meetings with CnES Business Gateway for Pod business plans & cashflow loan
  • Attendance at a CNES ‘Meet the Funders’ event held in Barvas Community centre on 22 May
  • Meetings with the HIE Account Manager throughout the year & attendance at the HIE Community Account Management Local Development Officer meeting in Galson Business Centre on 30th October 2012.