In 2010 the small community of Ulva Ferry on the west coast of the Isle of Mull had an aging and declining population and Ulva Primary School was facing closure. A key factor was the lack of affordable housing for young families.
The community formed the Ulva School Community Association in 2011, and working with Mull and Iona Community Trust , they instigated the Ulva Ferry Housing Project to directly tackle the housing situation.
Six years later, the community has built two, three-bedroom homes, delivering the first designated affordable rental housing to be built in the area for decades. The mid-market rental properties have secure long term tenancies, and extremely low heating bills thanks to their Passive House design. They are now home to two families, each with three young children, which has helped secure a future for the local school.
Local people have been involved at each stage of the project, with the interests of the wider community at the heart of each decision made. The success of the project has strengthened the community’s appetite for more affordable housing development to further secure the longer term future for Ulva Ferry.
This week the project was recognised in the SURF Awards for Best Practice in Community Regeneration. The SURF Awards scheme is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government, with additional support from Architecture & Design Scotland, Creative Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scotland’s Towns Partnership, and Skills Development Scotland.
HIE has worked with the community groups and supported their plans and their entry to the awards. Claire McMurchy, the agency’s head of strengthening communities in Argyll and the Islands, said:
“The Ulva Ferry housing project is an excellent example of a collaboration between two active groups, determined to tackle issues facing their community. These two new homes have boosted the population by ten people, made a positive difference to the average age of local people, and secured the future of the local school. We very much look forward to continue working with the groups to help further address the challenges they face.”
Moray Finch, General Manager of Mull and Iona Community Trust said “We are delighted that the impact of the Ulva Ferry Housing project on the local community has been recognised by the SURF judging panel. We could not have achieved this without the support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise who have funded our Local Development Officer since 2011. HIE also provide MICT with capacity building support under their account management programme which allows us to provide additional support to voluntary groups like USCA”