Isle of Colonsay
5 April 2021
Dear Colonsay Community Councillors,
Re: Affordable houses on croft land and access issues
Further to our group letter to you dated 27 March 2021, it has been brought to our (myself and Les') attention that the community is under a serious misconception. A number of people have said they understand if the 5 affordable houses are not built in Lower Kilchattan that the crofters on community owned land would be unable to access their crofts or their houses. This is simply untrue!
When the planning for these houses first went in, this was the only site that the CCDC had to offer and even though a lot of people were against having houses in the middle of croft land it was decided that this was the only option. Things have now changed. With the purchase of the land in Scalasaig and the possibility of building 21 houses there the island no longer needs to use land in the middle of an agricultural area to provide affordable housing. Most people recognise that but some still think we need the houses for the road/access to the crofts beyond. The CCDC have not shared any information regarding the development for years, it has not been mentioned in their newsletters and minutes are either confidential or not published in the public domain, and this lack of transparency has enabled this myth to spread.
The area earmarked for the houses could quite easily be let as another croft and allocated to another young family to make their commitment to the island by running their own small business and building their own Croft house as the three existing Crofters are doing. There are over a dozen crofts in Kilchattan and no social housing but 9 existing social housing houses in Scalasaig and no crofts!
If the community were well informed by the CCDC and told the truth, would they honestly be in favour of this croft land being given away for a pittance to a housing authority when the area is no longer needed for this purpose or would they prefer to see another young family living there? Kilchattan is a traditional crofting area and this important way of life needs to be kept for future generations.
The CCDC and WHHA have kept from the community and their own members the facts relating to planning running out the first time round. They did not publicise what was happening as it was convenient for them to let us be portrayed as the ‘bad people' holding up the much needed houses.
Access for the Crofters on their crofts is not and would not be a problem. It was the suggestion of affordable housing and the attitude of the CCDC that have caused the problems with access and services. We have never been asked by the anyone about access for the crofters.
These last few years have been frustrating (that's putting it mildly!) but we wish to make it clear to the community that, as crofters ourselves, we are fully behind the new crofters and want to support them getting up and running. But we have zero trust in the CCDC with their lack of communication and transparency.
We appeal to the CCC to intervene at this time and help us to find a way forward before the land is lost to a project no longer required.
Rhona and Les Robinson
In case you have stumbled upon this page by accident, Colonsay is a beautiful island in the Hebrides with about 130 inhabitants. Just search online to find out more or use the "Links" facility at the foot of this page.