Defining Westray’s Housing Needs

Westray Development Trust has for some time been looking into housing need on Westray. This work included engaging with the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust which sent a representative to the island during regatta weekend 2016 to carry out consultation with the community. The results of this work suggested that there is some need for housing on the island and we used this to look at some development options.

However, before the Trust proceeds with the purchase of any properties or land, it needs to get the definitive answer on the actual demand and type of property requirement. Therefore, we have devised a short questionnaire which is available online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MKVG89Q , via links on the Westray Facebook page or in paper form from the office if you’d prefer. The survey results will give us the information we need in order to make a decision on whether to proceed or not.

We thought it would be helpful to explain what we consider to be a housing need. We would suggest that a housing need is anyone who may already be housed but who also has a desire to move out of their current home for any number of reasons. These reasons could include, but not limited to:

  • A young person or couple wanting to move out of the family home or set up their first home together
  • An older person or couple who want to downsize to a more manageable, adaptable home
  • A person currently living in sub-standard accommodation
  • A person or family wanting to move back to Westray but is struggling to find suitable accommodation
  • A family wanting to move into a larger home

We would be very grateful if you could take the time to complete this questionnaire and/or pass it on to anyone that you know might have a housing need now (or in future) including family members and friends who currently live elsewhere but would be looking to move to Westray. Please be assured that your answers will be treated with strictest confidence and any public access to the answers will be limited to collective, anonymous results.

We recognise that everyone’s need will vary and therefore if you wish to speak to the Trust in regards to your own, individual requirement for housing, please get in touch to make an appointment. We are contactable:

9am until 4pm, Monday to Friday on 01857 677858;

Or through email: general enquiries to admin@westraydevelopmenttrust.co.uk or direct to Andy, Operations Manager on andy@westraydevelopmenttrust.co.uk;

Or drop in to the office at Quarry Road during office hours;

Or send us a message on Facebook/Messenger – https://www.facebook.com/westray.developmenttrust.5

We would be delighted if you could provide us with your responses before 5pm on 23rd February so that we can review the responses and make a decision at the next Board meeting (6th March) on if/how to proceed with the project. If you need more information please get in touch as above.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Housing Project

Shane Scott, the architect working with the Trust will be visiting Westray on Wednesday 20th December and will be available for a discussion from 10-5 in the Hofn. If you have an interest in the housing project, then please drop in at any time. If you would prefer a private meeting with Shane or the Trust, please let us know.

Westray Housing Needs

The Trust is continuing to explore the Housing Need of Westray and at present we area inviting tenders to assess two potential plots of land and a vacant property for their development suitability. The costs of this tender will form part of an application to the Island Housing Fund and if successful will lead on to a full application for development assistance.

If you have a housing need, or perhaps can predict one in the near future please contact the Trust office on 01857 677858

Westray Housing Needs

Over the last two years The Trust has been working with Orkney Islands Council, Orkney Housing Association Ltd and the Islands Small Communities Housing Trust to consider what Westray’s housing needs are now and, what could the future need look like.

In summary The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust was commissioned to provide a detailed study into the opportunities available to help to progress the aims and objectives of the Westray Development Trust. The report provides an overview of the development opportunities for land, commercial properties and for housing. Detailed consideration was given to the most suitable sites, and the main findings from a series of community consultation exercises was explored. The report also investigated potential partnerships and examples of funding mechanisms to aid the delivery of the most viable projects identified. Part of the process was to discuss potential site with the Orkney Isles Council’s Planning Department. They provided some general advice as each planning application would be considered in its own merit.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

THE RURAL HOUSING FUND & ISLAND HOUSING FUND –  The Rural Housing Fund is a £25m fund launched by the Scottish Government in April 2016, with a further £5m specifically earmarked for island communities, The Islands Housing Fund, announced in September 2016. The aim is to support development in rural areas by making grants and loan funding available to viable rural and island housing developments.

SCOTTISH LAND FUND – The Scottish Land Fund is designed to allow communities across the whole of Scotland, the opportunities to enable communities throughout rural and urban Scotland to purchase land and buildings to create independent, resilient communities. Community groups can apply for assistance with projects from £10,000 to £1m.

COMMUNITY SHARES – Community Shares can part fund development costs, where shares are offered to members of the community in order to raise the required finance for development.

CROSS-SUBSIDY  – Where we define cross-subsidy we take this to mean the sale of an asset or part of an asset to provide funding to support the delivery of an objective which requires additional funding support.

PARTNERSHIPS – Securing partnerships can be essential to delivering a project. Some examples which are relevant and can be replicated in Westray and where partnership working has played a key role in making projects viable are as follows:

RURAL HOUSING BURDEN – The Rural Housing Burden is a mechanism used to protect the long-term affordability of homes for sale.

LONG LEASE – The Housing (Scotland) Act was amended by The Scottish Parliament to allow Rural Housing Bodies to create leases of 21 years or more. This enables private lending to be available to projects involving leases which can be of benefit to many community led projects.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT’S INFRASTRUCTURE FUND – A new fund of up to £50 m is available in 2016/2017 to assist with projects across Scotland to help the government to reach its target of 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY – e.g. community benefit funds or income from renewable energy schemes. As Westray Renewable Energy Ltd is a trading subsidiary of the Westray Development Trust, there may be some potential to invest in some community projects which include housing or commercial opportunities.

LOW COST HOME OWNERSHIP – LIFT SCHEME. Eligible applicants are able to purchase between 60% – 80% of the property price, depending on their individual financial situations.

LOW COST HOME OWNERSHIP – SHARED EQUITY Shared equity homes can be provided separately from the LIFT scheme by a community group or developer.

OPEN MARKET HOUSING –  With agreement from the landowner it may be appropriate to sell part of a development site at the full open market value.

SELF-BUILD The term “self-build” is widely used, although we include this to mean people who employ a builder to build their home from beginning to end.

CO-HOUSING –  Co-housing can be a way to achieve lowimpact living, affordability and a sense of community in a project KEY WORKER HOUSING Key worker housing is mainly used to describe homes that are rented to people who are working in the area from a range of professions, on a short-term basis.

REFURBISHMENT OF EMPTY PROPERTIES – Refurbishing properties can be a good way of returning existing housing stock back into use, although it is important to recognise that all properties are not suited to being refurbished and then providing an affordable property.

SPECIAL NEEDS HOUSING Suitable housing can be driven by the needs of a particular family with particular care requirements, or with mobility issues for example.

HOUSING SUITABLE FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE –  Housing for varying needs building standards provides housing suitable for elderly people.

WESTRAY COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT In order to gain the maximum contact with local people to engage with, HSCHT attended the annual Westray Regatta and the Island Picnic on 30th and 31st July 2016. Seven people responded to a short face to face questionnaire

CONCLUSIONS OF THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT REGARDING HOUSING OPTIONS: The discussions with members of the community who attended the Island Picnic were helpful to determine the types, tenures and timescale of the housing required by local people over the next few years. The main preference to satisfy the housing aspirations was for self-build. Unfortunately, without access to land or to available finance this method of providing housing can be difficult to achieve. Therefore, if support mechanisms were available to assist the community then this may be achievable for some families. Rented housing and purchasing on the open market were the next preferred options with rented housing being more attractive to those who are new to the island, setting-up new households or thinking about returning.

The full report developed by Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust can be found at HSCHT 2016 Report and the Council’s report at 2015.06.05 Westray Housing report.

The Trust is planning an open meeting to discuss their plans in the near future, details of which will be displayed in the shop windows and social media sites shortly.

Half Year Update

Well we are just over 6 months into our financial year, so we thought a little update on the progress of all our projects was in order.

Key Theme 1 – Housing

We have received the housing report, a full copy of which will be available on the website soon, which contains information on:

  • The land availability, currently marketed or otherwise
  • An options appraisal for each area of identified land, detailing the potential of developing a range of both domestic and commercial properties
  • A report of funding opportunities for; land purchase, domestic and commercial property development and revenue costs of developing these.
  • An appraisal of the current and future employment needs of the main employment providers and their attitude towards supporting a housing project.
  • A comparative study of the current market values of a broad range of commercial and domestic properties on Westray, in Orkney and National
  • The delivery of and a report of community engagement exercises, exploring local people’s attitudes towards a housing development project
  • A report, including running costs, of organisations with the ability to manage the lettings and maintenance of the domestic and commercial properties
  • An exploration of emerging opportunities to link with any local and national projects, maximising the benefit of developing housing and commercial properties.
  • Identification of areas of land where the potential exists to use legislation to transfer ownership, for the purposes of building development, to the community

The Trust is considering a Housing Development Sub Group to consider the report and develop a funding plan to take this forward.

Ian Ricketts plans on attending the Rural Housing Conference this year and we will feed what he discovers back to you on his return.

Theme 2 – Industry and Business

The quarry proposal continues to take positive steps forward with an initial screening opinion being submitted to Orkney Islands Council. So far there have not been any previously considered issues that need to be addressed. We anticipate that a full planning application will be made within the next 3 months.

The trust has temporarily suspended its business loans policy to enable a thorough review of the policy and processes to take place. The gap between what the Trust could expect when investing an amount over a period of time, when compared with what the Trust could expect with the same amount over the same time period and at similar interest rates, is considerable. The Trust has to be able to justify that the gap is weighted more towards community benefit, over what could be perceived to be personal benefit. Currently we have no tangible way of assessing that benefit. We are therefore looking at two routes, first is to adapt our current grant scoring matrix to reflect the impact of the loans and the second is to work with a Business Graduate to develop a way of calculating social impact.

The Fruit and Vegetable growing project has been developing over the last 6 months with the Trust being awarded over £101,000 to assist with developing it. Planning permission was applied for in late November and considering that Papay erected the same type of greenhouse recently and that the community were expressing no concerns during the public consultation phases, we anticipated a problem free planning process. However, an objection was raised regarding privacy, noise and concerns that a private drive would be used to park cars, was received by the council. Attempts continue to see what can be done to overcome the concerns. If these concerns cannot be overcome then the application will go to committee on the 29th March. Unfortunately this would mean that the planned build of 20th March would have to be delayed and growing any produce this summer would be unlikely.

The Tourism Development project comes to an end after 2 years. There have been some mixed outcomes with equal amounts of successful developments and learning opportunities being identified. The project will leave us with a new website and hopefully a new venue booking system (which is proving surprisingly difficult to source), a brand new Westray guide, a study into the state of the adopted paths of Westray and a report on the potential opportunities that archaeological tourism could bring to the island.

Theme 3 Youth and Children

Planning for the Fund Raising Shop was submitted under the same application as the fruit and veg project, it occupying the same piece of land. It is therefore subject to potential delays, although we have the buildings ready to go and just need the ground developed to take them.

Following the remarkable donation from the pop-up cafe last year the Trust approved a budget to refurbish the interior of the Hofn’s main two rooms. Work has started with the kitchen area being remodelled and, new furniture and a new multi-use games table purchased. Thank you to all for putting up with all the upheaval during the work.

Theme 4 – Health and Care

The Trust approved a budget of £1000 to decorate the Chapel of Rest and work will commence shortly with volunteers from the Community Council and Trust to do the work.

The Home Help service continues to attract more users and more staff. It is hoped that the service will continue to grow for the community.

Work continues on exploring the possibility of developing some kind of facility or complex to support the vital and emergency services based on Westray.

Theme 5 – Environment

Nothing further to report on this Key Theme.

Theme 6 Recreation & Liesure and Voluntary Groups

The new financial year (July onwards) will see additional criteria being added to the grant assessment matrix. This will score the applications attempts (successful or otherwise) to secure or raise additional funding themselves prior to applying to the Trust. This is to ensure that the Trust does not undermine all the  hard work that the community groups and their fund raisers have  previously achieved.

Theme 7 – Transport

Nothing further to report on this Key Theme

Theme 8 – Education and Training

Early discussions are planned to explore what support could be provided to the school, above what is already in existence, to maximise the opportunities for learners and community members.

Other Areas

Through a competitive process, The Trust was matched with a senior Manager with the Bank of Scotland who will act as a Non-Executive Director of the board as part of a pilot scheme to support community groups. Already he has been able to give some guidance and steerage towards some subtle changes.

Broadband – remains a very emotive subject for those who don’t have good or indeed any access to broadband. We continue to liaise very closely with the authorities on this and have recently used our position to expedite the delays to getting broadband into the village. We are aware of other communities and specifically those in North West England who have developed the B4RN project,  providing super-fast broadband themselves. However, geography and the very nature that Westray is an island would have a huge bearing on anything being developed locally. However, we are keeping a listening watch on developments and will pursue any opportunities that present themselves.

Investments – recognising that the Trust needs to secure the future of the organisations and its activities, it has started to deposit money into a long-term investments strategy. Responding directly to comments about the ethical nature of some investment portfolios the Trust conducted a thorough assessment of the opportunities available that addressed the ethics raised by some members. We are glad to say that we identified that The Churches, Charities and Local Authorities group had an Ethical Investment Fund which had the potential to offer average annual returns of around 4% over the lifetime of the investment. With it meeting the criteria the board approved an initial investment of £750,000 to be deposited with an annual deposit to be taken from the income we receive from WRE Ltd.

Recruitment – The Trust has recently developed a new permanent post with the Trust for 16 hours per week as an Admin Assistant. We hope to be appointing the successful candidate in the very near future. We are also looking at recruiting two part-time gardening staff for the fruit and vegetable garden on a 2 year contract.

There are currently 5 vacancies in the trust board and we would welcome expressions of interest in joining the team. It is a particularly busy period of development and the whole team would welcome fresh eyes and input. If you want to know more about volunteering with the Trust in any way, please contact one of the directors or members of staff.

If there are any questions about this half yearly update, please don’t hesitate to contact the Trust Office.

Community Fundraising Shop

An enthusiastic group met in the Hofn on Wednesday 25th June to discuss how the proposed shop would operate. All present contributed to the structure, who would benefit and the suggested opening times.

The following is a summary of what is being proposed.

Westray based groups who directly benefit Westray will be invited to register for a time allocation in the new shop. The frequency of allocations will be dependent on how many groups register and the number that can be slotted in on a weekly basis over the initial 6 months and will be drawn by way of a lottery.

To ensure groups are not overly advantaged or disadvantaged with seasonal fluctuations the following income structure is proposed. Weekly residences will run Monday to Sunday and any takings that week will be split as follows:

  • 50% immediately retained by the resident group of that week
  • 45% retained by Trust for 6 months and together with any interest will be shared on a pro-rata basis
  • 5% retained by the Trust to cover operating costs and shop refreshments etc.

Groups will be expected to open the shop every Wednesday from 10:00 to 4:00, every Saturday from 10:00 to 1:00 and at any other time that they want to do so, providing that their additional opening hours have been publicised in advance. The Trust will coordinate with the groups and publish any additional opening hours.

A pool of unattached volunteers will be developed to assist groups who cannot fully meet the standard opening times.

Donated items will be accepted at any time during the working week and are to be gifted to the shop and not a particular group, charity or fund raising cause. It is hoped that all donations of clothing etc would be washed prior to being donated.

Groups will be expected to sort, price and rotate old stock during their week of residence. A common pricing guide and stock rotation process will be developed to assist groups.

Subject to the Trust obtaining the appropriate license, groups may run a raffle during their week of residence, retaining 100% of the income from it.

The name of the shop will be by competition. The school will be asked to create a list of potential names which, will be put to public vote. The pupil with the winning name will be invited to officially open the shop.

More information will be provided as soon as it’s known

Trust Home Support Service

Owing to some continuity of service issues with Age Concern, The Trust was not minded to renew the Here2Help agreement with them. Instead The Trust will use the allocation of Turbine Funds to provide a Home Help Service of its own. Administered by the Trust Office Staff and delivered by employed Westray resident support workers, we can offer the following support services:

  • Household cleaning such as dusting, vacuuming, mopping etc
  • Changing bedding
  • Collecting or accompanying during shopping and Pension collecting
  • Light household maintenance such as washing paintwork, cleaning cupboards etc
  • Cleaning kitchens, bathrooms and toilets
  • Laundry and Ironing
  • Preparing food and/or cooking a meals
  • Outdoor tasks such as light gardening, path clearing, etc

If you want more information on this, then please contact the Trust office on 858

 

 

 

Höfn Security

Just for greater peace of mind of overall security, the Höfn now has an electronic door locking system. All eligible members will be issued with key cards to gain entry.

Key cards are available from the Trust Office staff team during the working day, or by contacting Andy on 07814 333942 at any other times. First issue of a key card is free, but replacements will costs £5.

Contractors, guests and folk booking the Höfn should collect a key card from the Trust office prior to entry being needed.

 

Housing Needs Assessment Update

The Housing Needs Assessment tendering process is about to commence on the 12th February. With partial funding and support from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise we aim to develop a broader understanding of the housing needs of Westray now and also into the future.

We intend to use this information, should a need be identified, to apply to the Scottish Land Fund for grant assistance to purchase the land and assist with any early development costs.

The full briefing paper can be found by following this link, Westray Housing Project Consultation Brief but you will find a summary below.

To compliment this study, the board has asked Andy to attend the Rural Housing Scotland conference, which is being held in Dunkeld in February 2016.

The Purpose of the Housing Needs Brief is…..

To fully appreciate all aspects of the island’s social and financial economy and how best to support this with a housing development agenda, the Trustees require a strategic study of:

  • Knowledge of the current and future staffing needs of the major commercial operators, service providers and authorities on the island in the form of testimonials.
  • An understanding of the potential to develop partnerships with the commercial operators, service & utility providers and authorities.
  • Knowledge of structured housing development options, such as Rural Housing Bodies.
  • Identification of the available land plots and access to services of each plot
  • Knowledge of the potential capital and revenue funding opportunities to purchase land and develop housing and/or commercial units.
  • An understanding of the community’s expectations and attitude towards housing and housing development
  • A housing valuations study, incorporating local, Orkney wide and national valuations
  • The potential to link in with any of the other projects and initiatives currently being developed by the Trust.
  • Knowledge of a range of available exit strategies
  • Identify potential partners (such as Local Authority, Housing Association or other Registered Social Landlord) to manage the lettings/maintenance/sales, and the costs of this.

This work will identify opportunities for the Trust to participate in housing provision, and inform the Trustees with regard to next steps.  This might include submitting funding applications for land/asset purchase (such as the Scottish Land Fund) and capital development (such as the forthcoming Scottish Government Rural Housing Initiative).

Key skills we are looking for in the consultant are….

In order to gather this intelligence, the following required skills and experience will be required:

  • Preparation of business plans to inform decision making and to be used in support of funding applications
  • Working with community organisations involved in owning and managing domestic and commercial assets
  • Working with community organisations involved in owning and developing a housing project
  • Proven effective communication with volunteers in community organisations and with the wider community
  • Knowledge of funding schemes and initiatives beneficial to both developer and purchaser
  • Knowledge of the Community Empowerment Bill and Land Reform Act

Their key Tasks will be…….

In order to  present a robust business case for funding bids for land/asset purchase, and go on to develop a range of domestic and commercial properties, on Westray, the following key outputs are required. Where possible, the maximum use of local workforce/materials and use of sustainable systems/products, etc are to be considered.

  • A report of the land availability, currently marketed or otherwise
  • An options appraisal for each area of identified land, detailing the potential of developing a range of both domestic and commercial properties
  • A report of funding opportunities for; land purchase, domestic and commercial property development and revenue costs of developing these.
  • An appraisal of the current and future employment needs of the main employment providers and their attitude towards supporting a housing project.
  • A comparative study of the current market values of a broad range of commercial and domestic properties on Westray, in Orkney and National
  • The delivery of and a report of community engagement exercises, exploring local people’s attitudes towards a housing development project
  • A report, including running costs, of organisations with the ability to manage the lettings and maintenance of the domestic and commercial properties
  • An exploration of emerging opportunities to link with any local and national projects, maximising the benefit of developing housing and commercial properties.
  • Identification of areas of land where the potential exists to use legislation to transfer ownership, for the purposes of building development, to the community.

If you have any questions about any aspect of this project, please contact the Trust staff team on (01857) 677858

Quarry Assessment Update

In early January Paul Everett of the British Geology Survey visited Westray to conduct assessments of several quarry sites. Paul’s visit has given us some early indications of the stone quality, its locations and where it might be possible to quarry it.

The stone samples are currently being transported to the British Geology Survey offices in Edinburgh and Sandberg’s (a stone analysis company) of London for various testing. The results of which will give us a clear indications of its material composition, how it will behave in a crusher, its durability and how it weathers. If it is of sufficient quality then we can expect it to be certified to industry standards.

Concurrently we have been in contact with Orkney Islands Council and Scottish Natural Heritage to gauge their opinion and although no formal planning process has taken place, we are encouraged by their feedback.

During Paul’s visit he was able to completely rule out the old Rapness Quarry. In order for this quarry to be used again, it would have to be blasted which, creates considerable complications and costs as it would have to be done on a larger scale than the Trust anticipates. Blasting would also lower the quality of the stone too, as there is a significant band of shale running through the entire face which, would get mixed up with the stone during the blasting.

Once we have the testing results and some firmer news from OIC, we intend to present this information back to the members and community, as promised at the AGM, to gauge further opinion.