- 1. How did the project come about?
The idea for the project arose during the revision of the Local Plan in 2011/12 when concern was being expressed that only new houses were being built in the village and yet it was apparent that continued expansion was inevitable and that services were already lagging behind. The preparation of the new plan provided an opportunity for the community to begin to shape its own future and with support from Ferintosh Community Council, the Culbokie Development Group was set up to explore the issues. A community consultation was undertaken in 2012 to establish local needs and preferences. This identified that local people wanted new facilities in the village – the top priorities being a health centre, café, bigger shop and community shop. The Culbokie Development Group worked with Highland Council to ensure that suitable areas were allocated for such uses in the new Local Plan.
The opportunity for the community to purchase land for the development of new local services arose in 2014 and consultants were appointed to undertake further community consultation and prepare a feasibility report and business plan. These generated new ideas and led to a proposal to create a new village centre – a gathering space with a range of facilities providing services to all the different groups in the village set in an attractive green landscape.
- 2. What is going to be built on the community area?
1. The land owned by CCT will be used to develop a new heart to the village for the benefit of people who live in Culbokie and the surrounding area. Phase 1 will include:
I. a community hub building which will house:
a. A friendly 25 -30 person café providing healthy home cooked food and shared tables for singles
b. A toddlers’ play space
c. High quality digital connection
d. Toilets including a disabled toilet
e. A community shop for local crafts, book exchange etc.
f. A small health room suitable for one to one consultations. (Note: the NHS and local doctors’ surgeries do not support the development of a full-scale health centre in Culbokie).
g. An additional flexible space for a range of community uses.
II. A covered space, which will wrap around the community hub, providing shelter for outdoor gatherings and activities.
III. An outdoor community gathering space which will extend beyond the community hub with informal gardens, paths and seating.
IV. Car parking suitable for the new facilities with additional provision to supplement shop and pub parking
Later phases of the development are likely to include some rental business units and some small community housing suitable for people in need of higher levels of support. More information about these phases is provided below.
- 3. What sort of activities will take place in the community hub and open space?
1. The community hub will provide services for all the different ages and groups in the village as well as providing a range of volunteering and work opportunities. It will have a particular focus on services for the most vulnerable.
I. Café activities - In addition to providing normal café fare such as teas and coffees, cakes and lunches, we envisage that the café will host other activities such as take-away nights, meals on wheels, a lunch club, a dementia café, toddler friendly opportunities, cookery classes and demonstrations, outside catering and a venue for private gatherings.
II. Flexi space – This space could be used to extend the café at busy times. Other uses include group clinics, exhibitions, library services such as a children’s book club, technology / computer / gadget support for adults, teen evenings, a crèche, film nights, craft events and other classes and hobby groups. Existing and new groups in the village would be encouraged to use the facilities, and there will be lots of scope for villagers to decide what they want to do.
III. Health room - The health room will be properly equipped for medical use and include space for a physio couch. It will be used for 1:1 clinics and consultations such as physiotherapy, chiropody, massage and alternative therapies. Video conferencing facilities are also being considered which would enable consultations with NHS professionals.
Open space - The open space will be developed as a garden with paths and seating for general enjoyment and relaxation. In the spaces between the paths we envisage simple outdoor games as well as growing spaces for wildlife friendly flowers and shrubs, herbs, salads and fruit. There will be an opportunity for community and therapeutic gardening and a supply of fresh local jams, soft fruits, herbs and salads for the kitchen and café.
- 4. Who will run the activities?
CCT will have overall responsibility for the community hub including general maintenance, business development, marketing and rental of the health room.
Birchwood Highland, an Inverness based mental health charity has expressed a keen interest in running the Culbokie café to provide work experience to their client group. They also wish to extend their caring role to bring services to the wider community. CCT believes that Birchwood Highland brings a valuable new skills base to the village and a joint working group has been established to develop the relationship. It is currently proposed that a new social enterprise is established by Birchwood Highland to run the café. CCT would be represented on the Board and would work supportively with BH to promote the success of the venture. Over the first three years, in lieu of rent, any surpluses will be shared.
- 5. What is CCT’s relationship with Tulloch Homes?
Tulloch Homes has been selected by the current owner of the housing site as the favoured purchaser and negotiations are ongoing. CCT and Tulloch Homes are keen to work together to develop an integrated design for the whole site and to gain efficiencies in undertaking joint infrastructure work. Discussions are ongoing and the community will be consulted on any developments in the proposed plan.
- 6. Is the shop going to move to the site?
When the project was first mooted there was a strong feeling that there was a need for a bigger shop in the village. Subsequently the shop transferred into new ownership and space-saving changes led to more customer choice which reduced pressure for change.
In the longer term, there is scope for the shop to almost double in size on its existing plot in a very cost effective manner and associated parking could be provided on the community land. The relocation of the shop is therefore no longer considered a priority.
- 7. Why do we need a village hub when there's already a church, a pub and a school in the village?
1. The village hub will provide a range of services and opportunities that do not already exist for the benefit of everyone in the community with a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable. This will cater not just for the present but for a future in which a further 130 new homes are planned in the period up to 2035 by which time it is estimated that there will be a doubling of people aged 75 and over on the Black Isle. By locating the services together and in close proximity to the existing shop and pub, it will also generate a critical mass of activity which will create a real feel of a village centre where people bump into each other, socialise, work, volunteer, access services and relax.
The community hub will focus on providing new facilities and services which complement and reinforce existing assets and we have very carefully avoided duplication. For instance:
I. Our development will not include anything that looks or feels like a hall. Bigger groups will be directed to Findon Hall or to the primary school.
II. The café will be shut on a Tuesday to avoid direct competition with the volunteer run church café and we will redirect customers to the church café on Tuesday afternoons.
III. The café will provide a very different offer to the pub (different food, different opening times, different prices, different activities and different setting) providing more choice to residents.
IV. There is no existing room in the village that is suitable for use as a health room. The school medical room is not available to the general public.
CCT will proactively develop new activities at the hub and we anticipate that this will increase the profile of the village overall resulting in new business opportunities for everyone. It is our wish to work in close and mutually supportive partnership with all asset managers to ensure the best use of all venues and to maximise benefits for the whole village.
- 8. Who is going to pay for all this?
We estimate the capital cost of Phase 1 will be around £1m. Once Phase 1 is up and running, income streams will come from the rental of the health room and income from the café although conservative business plan estimates show that surpluses will be modest. CCT does not want to tie itself to demanding revenue targets because its aims are to improve the village and not make money. Our plan therefore requires that the capital funding package should be free of interest bearing loans.
We aim to raise approximately £50k (5%) of the capital required through our own local fund-raising campaign. The remaining 95% will be sought from grant aiding bodies such as the BIG Lottery fund, Robertson Trust, Tudor Trust and various other Trusts and Foundations. Success with our local fund-raising will demonstrate support from the community which will strengthen our grant applications.
- 9. How have you arrived at business plan figures?
CCT has undertaken a wide range of due diligence work over the past two years. We have visited many community cafes to find out how they operate, we’ve spoken in depth to their café managers and we’ve been given access to their management accounts. We have paid particular attention to cafes operating in communities that are most similar to Culbokie such as Balintore and Maud. Our café business plan is based on a conservative estimate of trade which we are confident of meeting. However, if we find that trade is worse than expected we plan to concentrate trade into fewer opening hours to cut staff overheads and reduce or avoid losses.
CCT has also undertaken comprehensive market research into the rental demand for the health room through interviews with NHS and private health practitioners. This has uncovered some current demand and led to robust estimates of rental income. If rentals are less than expected income will be reduced. However, as there are no significant staff costs associated with the health rooms, losses are not expected.
- 10. How will the gardens be maintained?
An allowance has been made in the business plan for some grounds maintenance such a regular mowing and maintaining paved areas. However, CCT aims to develop a strong supported volunteer base at the hub through which a range of community and therapeutic gardening activities can take place and it is hoped that different groups will be able to develop and care for different areas. Soft fruits and herb areas could be maintained as part of café activities and also provide fresh and home-made produce for the café.
- 11. The Glascairn junction is already congested & sometimes dangerous. What's going to be done to improve this junction?
Outline planning consents for both the new private housing and the community site require road improvements prior to any development taking place. These include junction improvements to enhance visibility splays, widening of the Glascairn Road along the site boundary and the provision of pavements along both road boundaries. There will be a new pedestrian walkway across the Glascairn Road which, for safety reasons, will need to be sited well back from the junction.
- 12. Will the community housing be built and if so, when?
The Housing Needs Analysis undertaken by CCT with the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust in 2015/6 demonstrated a clear unmet demand for small houses for people to downsize into. This demand was mainly for private homes but there was also a small demand for affordable housing and it had been CCTs intension to meet this need as Phase 2 or 3 of the development.
However, the plan under development by Tulloch Homes involves the development of 33 two and three bedroom bungalows, each with a small garden, including 8 affordable units. This development, if it goes ahead, will go a long way to meeting the downsizing needs of local residents and has led us to pause in order to review our position.
For the time being we have retained an option within the design framework of developing some small housing on the community land and we will not make any final decisions on this until we have clarity on the final Tulloch development. However, the idea of developing sheltered housing has been strongly supported during consultations and the changing demographic of the area can only lead to more people with higher support needs. The area that we would therefore now like to explore in more depth is the development of supported residential opportunities specifically designed for the most vulnerable in our community.
- 13. What is the story with the business units and what type of businesses might set up?
Attractive new village centre business units would provide many benefits including employment and work experience opportunities and the provision of additional services. Suitable uses might include a hairdresser / beauty treatment salon, offices /showrooms for any commercial enterprise, offices for charities or social enterprises, workshops for craft use or repairers of IT /medical equipment, small scale manufacturers such as chocolates or pottery or specialist trades such as dressmaking or musical instruments.
In 2016, CCT examined the viability of a new enterprise building of around 150m2 which could be divisible into smaller units. This included research into demand and supply, rental values, landlord costs, build costs, finance costs, issues of location and market issues. This concluded that good quality units to a basic specification could be viable if the capital costs are supported at a level of around 50% grant aid. The remaining funding could potentially be raised by a local community share issue.
Having established the feasibility of the business units, CCT is not progressing this element until Phase 1 is underway.
- 14. When is the new private housing development and community development likely to take place?
The private housing is likely to start in 2019 at the earliest and is likely to be phased over two or three years. The earliest start for Phase 1 of the community development will be 2020. This allows time for our detailed planning application, consultations and permissions as well as an additional allowance to put together a funding package. Once started the build should be completed over the course of about a year. Subsequent phases have not yet been scheduled.
- 15. What happens if the community scheme doesn’t materialise through lack of support or funding?
The fate of the land would be determined by the Scottish Government because the land was purchased under Scottish Government legislation. However, with their agreement, CCT gave a letter of comfort to the current landowners offering them first refusal should we wish to sell the whole plot, undeveloped, in the period to 2020. We therefore assume that, through the previous owner, the land would end up in the ownership of the new developer of the neighbouring housing scheme.
The land belonging to CCT is zoned for community, business, retail and office – and the developer could apply for any of these uses. However, unlike CCT which is a charity, a private developer would not be able to access grants for community development and any non-housing development would need to be very commercial and may not be feasible at all. This being the case the developer might well argue that, as CCT has withdrawn its interest, there is demonstrably no demand for more community facilities. The land could then be re-zoned for housing and this is the most likely end use. The land almost certainly won’t remain as open space.
- 16. How well supported is the project in the village?
1. Support can be judged by the following factors:
I. A full postal community ballot of all eligible adults in the CCT area was undertaken in 2014 to test support for the project. This set out the main elements of the project which have not significantly changed since then. A total of 54% responded to the ballot and of those a resounding 82% voted in favour of the proposals. This amounted to a total of 457 votes in favour and 103 votes against.
II. A postal Housing Needs Survey sent to every household in 2015 achieved a response rate of 33%. Of those responding, a total of 32% indicated that they would use the café most weeks and a further 28% said they’d use the café most months. This appears to be a good basis for trading.
CCT has a membership of around 15% of the eligible population, or a total of 162 members out or an eligible population of 1034 (in 2014). Membership is free.
- 17. What are the main objections to the development?
Feedback from individuals who do not support the project indicate the following main reasons:
I. There is no need for it as there is already plenty in the village
II. There is no need for a café as there is already a volunteer run church café that opens on Tuesday afternoons
III. It will compete with Findon Hall facilities
IV. It will take business from other establishments
V. It won’t be viable
VI. There is no wish to have more people coming to the village
We believe we have, to a very large degree, addressed these issues above.
- 18. How can we keep up-to-date about the developments taking place at Glascairn?
The best way to keep up to date is to sign up for free membership of the Culbokie Community Trust through which you will receive regular updates of progress. CCT also endeavours to keep its web site up to date with information about progress. This includes minutes of CCT Board meetings recording all major decisions. CCT is also committed to public consultation at key stages in the development of its plans.
- 19. Who do I contact if I have an issue with the project?
If you have any questions you should contact Penny Edwards (CCT Chair) on email@example.com or Richard Fyfe (CCT Vice Chair) on firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can contact any Board member as listed in the CCT web site.
- 20. Is CCT only interested in the development of the community land beside the shop?
No, the objectives of CCT are much wider and include community development, the promotion of recreation facilities, education about the environment, culture and history and environmental protection, all for the benefit of the community. CCT has been active in running the Culbokie Community Market since early 2016, developing the use of our local woods, gathering information on the history of our area and running a range of local community events.
NOTE: All the proposals outlined above for the Glascairn Community Project are subject to statutory approvals and the deal between the landowner and Tulloch Homes is still at an early stage.