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Pioneering low cost housing plans for the Cairngorms

By SPP Reporter

Housing proposals have been recommended for approval by CNPA planners
Housing proposals have been recommended for approval by CNPA planners

The Cairngorms National Park Authority’s planning committee is being recommended to give the go-ahead to a potentially pioneering six-home development at Rothiemurchus tomorrow (Friday).

The seven friends who make up the Inverdruie Sawmill Co-operative have been working for five years to establish the sustainable housing scheme on land 175m south east of Heatherbank by Dellhmor.

Four of the homes are intended for members, and two more houses will be sold on the open market, cross-subsidising the affordable housing by giving the land owner Rothiemurchus profit while at the same time greatly reducing the purchase cost of the land for the quartet of affordable plots.

Gavin Miles, the CNPA’s head of planning, Gavin Miles, has recommended approval be given to the plans at Boat of Garten Community Hall when the committee meets. A site visit will take place first.

Mr Miles states: "The landowner of the former sawmill site was willing to sell land to the group at half the open-market price for house plots. However, even with that discount, the total costs were unaffordable to the group.

"HSCHT brokered a potential solution through reducing the plot sizes and adding two house plots where the landowner would sell the land for the four self-build houses to HSCHT at approximately 4% of the market value for house plots, but could still find a market-level profit through the sale of two open market plots."

The use of HSCHT’s Rural Housing Burden means the co-operative members have to sell the homes at a fixed price set by the housing trust and not for profit on the open market, and means they remain affordable in perpetuity.

A total of 27 letters have been received by the planning service supporting the application and only two against. Aviemore Community Council has said described it as ‘an exemplar in delivering affordable housing for local people in a sustainable way".

Members of the Badenoch and Strathspey Conservation Group have said they are objecting to the precise location of the housing but they are fully in favour of the model of affordable housing for local families being proposed.

The sawmill was operated after World War II until the 1960s. The foundations of buildings, hard standing, machinery and timber are still evident on the site.

One of those involved in the pioneering project wanting to bring new life to the area is Lesley McKenna, former World Cup number one snowboard half-pipe rider and who is now team manager for Great Britain’s park and pipe team.

She told the Strathy when the plans were lodged: "We hope this project can set the scene for others in Scotland and hopefully, if we are successful with gaining planning permission, we can help other people in similar situations. This is definitely not a profit making venture – and never was."

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