COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN RAFFORD
Member Update 28th August 2020
During our community engagement in 2018, a community energy scheme and projects to enhance the environmental sustainability of Finderne were identified as community priorities. As these two priorities could be met through a wide range of economic and environmental projects, all of which would contribute to making Finderne an innovative leader in sustainable living, we announced ‘energy efficient living’ as one of six projects that would be the focus of our efforts in the initial years of delivering our Strategic Plan.
During strategy discussions in June 2019, Finderne Development Trust (FDT) Director Brian Higgs presented a concept to the Board that not only met these priorities but also met the need for increased recreational opportunities and would help move the Trust towards achieving its overall objective of strengthening Finderne and enabling the community, with a diverse and balanced demographic, to flourish.
This concept involved Brockloch and the Rafford Village Hall (RVH). Brockloch is situated opposite RVH in Upper Rafford. It is a greenfield site with capacity for 12 houses and was included in Moray Council’s 2015 Local Development Plan. Brian suggested that if a community led affordable housing development at Brockloch was feasible, the RVH sports field could offer a suitable location for a ground source heat pump system which would heat the hall and the homes sustainably. The field (which we knew suffered from poor drainage and required regular maintenance by the voluntary RVH committee) could then be developed into an all-weather sports ground with a pavilion which would greatly enhance local facilities and provide more opportunities and activities for all, particularly the younger generation – was one of three top choices for improvement in 2018.
Click here to see a visual of the concept.
Brockloch is owned by Dallas Estates who, after we presented the concept, have agreed to give us time to carry out a feasibility study. Dallas Estates have provided the FDT with a letter of intent which allows the Trust to have a pre-emptive option for purchase of the site whilst the work on proof of concept is carried out.
SCOTTISH LAND FUND
In early December 2019, we contacted the Scottish Land Fund to enquire about feasibility funding. Having passed an initial eligibility criteria check, we were assigned a case officer on 16th December to guide us through the two-stage application process. Our Stage 1 application was submitted on 22nd May and we were delighted to hear on the 18th June that it was successful. FDT was awarded £9,870 to fund a feasibility study to assess Brockloch as a site for developing community led affordable housing. FDT are contributing £5,820 of its own funds towards this study.
COMMUNITY HOUSING SCOTLAND
After inviting three organisations to tender for this work, FDT contracted the services of Community Housing Scotland (CHS). CHS help rural communities across Scotland better understand and meet the needs for affordable housing to help attract and retain economically and socially active individuals and families to counteract depopulation. CHS have an impressive track record, having worked with over 200 communities to date, from Tomintoul and Glenlivet to Gairloch and Colonsay.
The feasibility study will begin with a housing needs analysis so we can better understand the housing demand from both those currently living in Finderne and from those who reside outside the area but would like to live here. A survey of the land will then be carried out.
If a need is found, the business case is viable and the community are supportive of this project, we can move to Stage 2 of the Scottish Land Fund in late Summer 2021, providing that the fund re-opens as expected. This would provide up to 95% of funds to purchase Brockloch, providing we can also secure development funding for the housing element.
RAFFORD VILLAGE HALL
As the wider concept involves RVH owned land, we held two consultations with the Hall committee and trustees in June to share the project concept. RVH Trustees have given the Trust their full support in principal at the feasibility stage. We have also held discussions with Local Energy Scotland (CARES) about accessing feasibility funding to look at the energy options on the sports field if the housing element of the project is found to be feasible at Stage 1. In the meantime, we have been working with the RVH and Zero Waste Scotland who have undertaken a free energy audit of the hall which will identify how it can be made more efficient and therefore, be able to take full advantage of any future renewable energy generated. This report is expected in the next week.
UNLOCKING THE FUTURE
Rural regeneration is one of FDT’s key charitable purposes. We share the challenge of the outmigration of our young people coupled with slow rates of return with so many other rural communities across Scotland. The development of community led affordable housing has been a catalyst for the regeneration of many of these communities and we have seen this firsthand during visits to other development trusts. Therefore, we think this is an exciting first step of a potentially larger community development project which can help meet a number of long-term needs to enhance life in our rural community. This project could be one of our first legacy projects which will help to unlock the future for Finderne.
We look forward to working with you during the first stage of this process. Our housing needs survey is now available here, and we hope that all households in Finderne respond.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.