WORK on the first village on Skye in over 100 years begins this week.

Around 100 homes in total are expected to be built over time, tackling housing needs for all age groups in the community and supporting intergenerational living, cultural community spirit and alleviating social isolation.

The project partners are Sabhal Mòr Ostaig - The National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, The Highland Council and the Communities Housing Trust.

The community-led project will see 17 affordable homes built as part of the wider Kilbeg Village development in Sleat. Six homes will be available for social rent with The Highland Council as well as eight affordable homes and three discounted self-build plots with the Communities Housing Trust.

Given its proximity to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, it is expected that the development will attract Gaelic speakers or learners of all ages, however, the homes will be open to all with a need to live or work in the area.

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It is one of the biggest employers in the area and the biggest employer of Scottish Gaelic speakers in the world. 

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig chairman Angus Macleod said: “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is proud to be spearheading the ambitious Kilbeg project that helps address the chronic need for housing and aligns with our core aims to support the Gaelic language, culture and local economy.

“This is a great opportunity for those with an affinity to the language and culture to apply to live in accessible, affordable housing in the new Kilbeg community next to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s vibrant campus, where language and culture is shared across generations.”

The homes will be a mix of discounted rent and sale, and will include family homes, level-access, and wheelchair accessible homes. An adjacent private development by James MacQueen’s Ltd is due to follow shortly after, providing a further 14 flats.

This next building phase follows the Communities Housing Trust’s previous provision of two affordable Rent to Buy homes on the Kilbeg site, now homes to two young families.

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Ronnie MacRae, CEO of Communities Housing Trust, said: "The planned development in Kilbeg is unique in Scotland, in that it will provide a model for a mix of ages and tenures, providing opportunities for older people and younger families to support each other which also takes into account the importance of culture and heritage. Repopulating and regenerating the area in this way makes sense and helps to ensure long-term future sustainability of the community.”

The development has received funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Partnership Programme, The Highland Council, Scottish Funding Council, and the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Development Trust.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP commented on a visit to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig: “It’s been great to see the hard work that has been going into this development, which will help ensure that Gaelic continues to thrive in this community."

The National: Shirley-Ann Sommerville MSP visits the site in KilbegShirley-Ann Sommerville MSP visits the site in Kilbeg (Image: Community Housing Trust)

Housing Secretary Shona Robison said: “It is fantastic to see work start on this project in Kilbeg. Working with the Communities Housing Trust and The Highland Council and supported by over £1.2 million from Scottish Government, this project will deliver high quality, affordable homes, that will meet people’s needs and allow them to live independently, whilst remaining in their community.

The homes will be close to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the local primary school and nursery. Also nearby is the local medical centre and GP practice, Café Ostaig and the local community-owned shop at Armadale, which can be accessed by a local community transport service for the elderly.

To express interest in the homes, please register your details at here.