Work Begins on Clan Donald Village
Construction work began this week on the first planned village for over 100 years on the Isle of Skye. A project initiated by the Clan Donald Lands Trust, the 21st century Highland village known as Kilbeg is to be located on the Sleat Peninsula, and will be centered around the existing world-class Gaelic University Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
Kilbeg Village is a 40 acre site situated within the estate of Clan Donald Lands Trust on the southern end of the Isle of Skye, and incorporates a mix of housing, commercial, educational and leisure development. Community, energy sustainability and heritage components were a large factor in the planning stages, with the resulting master plan outlining a desire to create a village with a strong sense of place and local community.
The development will add to the hugely significant impact which Sabhal Mòr has had on the economic and social development of this formerly ‘fragile area’ which, against all trends, has seen its population double over recent years. In May 2013 Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced £1.908m of capital funding was allocated to the project through the ERDF European Structural Funds Programme, completing the £6.7m Phase 1 funding stage.
Speaking on behalf of the Scottish Government which has strongly backed the initiative, First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP, said yesterday: “It’s fantastic that Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is now in a position to take this exciting step in what is a visionary project. Investment in projects like Kilbeg is absolutely key for stimulating economic growth throughout Scotland. It’s vital we support opportunities that help create new jobs and apprenticeships, places which, at the same time, support the development and improvement of our rural communities.”
“Sabhal Mòr Ostaig makes an important contribution to the area beyond its obvious tuition and promotion of Gaelic. Kilbeg will future-proof the university and, along with the local community, create the first new village to be built on the island in more than 100 years”.
“As many Gaels will attest, Gaelic is more than a language. It is an integral part of the identity and heritage of the Highlands and Islands, and thanks to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, in this anniversary year, Gaelic is as current and relevant today as it was 40, even 400, years ago.”
Phase 1 will see the building of a new Academic, Research, Knowledge Transfer and Enterprise building to house key college staff. This will allow for the conservation and future redevelopment of the iconic and historic Steading Building, creating a new bespoke conferencing and events facility, a key part of the College’s own estate development strategy. Future phases of the wider Master plan over a 10-15 year time-frame provide for a range of housing, retail and enterprise units, a small hotel and sports and recreation facilities for Sabhal Mòr and the wider community.
Spearheaded by the Clan Donalds Land Trust, the registered charity aims to promote an understanding of the history and traditions of Clan Donald and the Lordship of the Isles. It operates Clan Donald Skye Visitor Centre situated within its 20,000 acre estate – a central feature of the Centre being the Museum of the Isles. The Trust also maintains the remains of Armadale Castle with its historic, landscaped Gardens, the Home Farm, ten Crofting Townships, and commercial and natural woodlands within the estate. In advancing its mission, the Trust also provides important economic benefits to the region as both a major employer and popular visitor attraction.