Community and cultural development

Harris centre opens

November 17th saw the official opening of the West Harris Trust’s flagship project, Talla na Mara. The new community enterprise centre has already hosted weddings, conferences and training events.

HIE invested £154,000 to support this ambitious project to construct business units and community facilities at Ruba Romagaigh in Horgabost.

The centre includes a gallery, a performance space for film, theatre and live music events, four business units, a facility available for hairdressers / therapists to rent, office spaces, a restaurant and motorhome hook ups.

In 2010 the community purchased the 16,254-acre West Harris district. Incorporating the crofting townships of Losgantir, Seilibost, Horgabost, Na Buirgh and Sgarasta Mhòr, the scenic landscape is predominantly under crofting tenure.

At the point of purchase there were 119 residents with only one child under the age of five. The Trust set a clear objective from the outset; to increase the population to 130 in 2015 and to 170 in 2020. Today there are 146 people living on the land.

Since taking ownership of the land, West Harris Trust has undertaken a range of projects to increase economic activity. In order to promote tourism, the Trust has installed a pontoon at Horgabost beach and four motorhome hook-ups within the grounds of the old school at Seilebost. They also provide several camping spots.

To attract people to the area, the Trust has created new housing opportunities through sale of plots of land for self-build and by working in partnership with Hebridean Housing Partnership to deliver affordable houses to rent.

The facility is managed by the residents of West Harris. Translated from Gaelic, Talla na Mara means the Centre by the Sea. Overlooking the golden sands of Niseaboist beach and the Sound of Taransay, the Centre boasts one of the most photographed locations in the Outer Hebrides.

This project has brought seven businesses to the West Harris, created 15 new jobs and safeguarded five jobs.

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