Archive | rural

Culbokie Update

We recently completed a Feasibility Study for the Culbokie Community Trust. The Glascairn Community Project seeks to provide much needed local services and facilities and create a new heart for the village. The Trust has applied to the Scottish Land Fund for assistance in buying the site, having successfully completed a local ballot which showed strong support for the project amongst local people.

The development proposals focus on a community cafe and shop fronting a new public square. Culbokie has no public realm or civic space to speak of and little prospect of ever getting any without this community intervention. Other communty buildings would provide rooms for local health services and a covered events space, with some housing meeting a need for smaller homes for local people and helping to fund the development.

SketchAerial copyCulbokie has become a commuter settlement in recent decades and with more housing estates to come it is in danger of becoming an all-out dormitory town, shipping workers in and out of Inverness every day. The market has failed to provide local services and even to meet local demand for smaller more affordable homes. Like many similar towns, house builders have built larger, expensive homes in recent times, partly as a response to rising land values.

Sadly, the planning profession has had no meaningful response to this issue. The land reform process is now addressing housing land. Market intervention to drive the delivery of housing which meets local need and responds to local character is overdue. Local Authorities are likely to have a key role, although most don’t use the powers they already have.

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This project is an excellent example of a community taking its future into its own hands. Community empowerment in action. The Trust has shown strong commitment to the task and provided leadership for a community which is realising that there is an alternative to declining local services and a diminishing sense of place. Culbokie is not alone – it’s part of a growing number of community-led projects which are slowly transforming Scotland’s communities for the better.

Our team partners were :

Hazel Allen, Athena Solutions; Amanda Bryan, Aigas Associates; Sam Foster, Sam Foster Architects.

The project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Highland Council and HIE.


Update – Shoreline Project, Bowmore, Islay



Since our last update on the Shoreline Project at Bowmore, Islay, in September 2014, progress on site has been good. All the buildings are in place with roofs and windows fitted. The form of the development can be clearly seen already – a street with an urban character, reflecting the local context at Bowmore’s historic planned village.

The view down the street shows Loch Indaal in the distance, across the High School playing fields and the north western part of the Shoreline site. The next phase of the development, which is at the design stage, will keep this view open. Bowmore is well connected to its surrounding landscape and the Shoreline development aims to consolidate that attractive character.


There’s an interesting pattern of pitched roofs emerging, with the development integrating neatly with the Bowmore Distillery bonds, just across the street. Once the white rendered wall finish is completed the houses should sit comfortably alongside these historic structures.

The houses are a little exposed in the wider landscape at the moment but as the development proceeds it will connect the buildings, spaces and routes at the dishevelled, unplanned western edge of Bowmore.


Promoted by Islay Estates Company, the project will deliver around 150 houses, employment opportunities and a mix of other uses. This first phase of 20 affordable homes is funded by Argyll & Bute Council and the Scottish Government. The houses will be owned and managed by ACHA – Argyll Community Housing Association.

Another update soon…..