A £2.5 million project to redevelop Blairs Steading on the Altyre Estate near Forres into a world class university research and teaching space, is to receive a £750,000 contribution from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The Steading comprises a group of Grade ‘A’ listed Italianate buildings, built in the 1830’s, which have been unused for many years. Historic Scotland is also backing the development with a further £500,000 contribution and the balance of the project is being funded by the Altyre Estate.
The three largest buildings will be transformed into a 10,000 sq ft horseshoe shaped campus, providing studio and exhibition space as well as areas for teaching, lecturing and flexible experience lab work.
The campus will be suitable for multi-disciplinary research activities directed at addressing the challenges of, and ambitions for, the Highlands and Islands.
David Oxley, HIE area manager in Moray, said: “The Blairs Steadings project will bring disused buildings back into productive use. It forms part of a much larger initiative that will bring social and economic benefits, not just in Moray but across the Highlands and Islands.”
Martin Fairley, head of investment for Historic Scotland, said: “It’s hugely encouraging to see these previously redundant, A-listed buildings given a sustainable future. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of this multi-partnership project and I’m sure the benefits of it will be felt by the local community and beyond for many years to come.”
Sir Alastair Gordon Cumming, owner of the 1,000 year old Altyre Estate, said he is delighted to develop a facility that will provide opportunities for young people in the area, as well as support a diverse local economy. He said: “After a long period of detailed planning we are very pleased that work has now commenced on this transformative project. Altyre is proud to be working with HIE on a set of passionately shared objectives to bring educational, research, enterprise and economic benefits to Moray, the Highlands and Islands and to Scotland at large. I would like to record my thanks to the staff and Board of HIE for their efforts in enabling this vision to come to fruition and to Historic Scotland for its valued support.”
Negotiations are underway to secure the steading as a regional base for Glasgow School of Art (GSA). HIE and GSA have worked together since 2010 on GSA’s Institute of Design Innovation (InDI) at the Enterprise Park Forres. In January this year the two organisations announced plans to develop a unique strategic partnership delivering research, teaching and economic benefits across the region with anticipated joint investment of up to £10 million over four years.