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Community businesses have room to grow in woodland workshops

20 August 2012

A local community group which featured on a Sky TV programme and has recently hosted festival fringe events in its community Treehouse is launching its latest project - two new workshops to be rented to local businesses.

Strathcarron-based Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group (KWHG) covers Lochcarron, Strathcarron and Kishorn in Wester Ross. The group employs a local development officer and has undertaken a number of projects designed to support the economic, cultural and social future of the area.

The most recent project undertaken by KWHG saw the building of two multi-use workshop units on land the group own at the Smithy Barn, Strathcarron. The units are to be leased to local craft/heritage/environmentally based businesses, with one tenant about to move in.

Those who assisted with the project development have been invited along to celebrate the official opening on Wednesday 22nd August. Local GP Doctor David Murray and Wood-turner Terry Hitchin will declare the workshops officially open.

Kristine Mackenzie, KWHG's Local Development Officer, said: "We're really excited to have these two units open and ready for businesses. One unit has been allocated to craft worker and trainer Keira MacFleat, the other will be allocated at a later date.

"We would like to pass on a special thanks to Davy Fraser, Beauly (main contractor) and the architect - Bill MacDonald, Design Services, Inverness and all those who assisted with the build. Also a big thanks to Liz Whiteford (LEADER), Lindsay Simpson (HIE Development Officer) and Pam Noble (HIE Community Assets Team) as without their assistance life would have been so much harder."

Lindsay Simpson, Development Manager at HIE, said: "The new units built by KWHG will help generate income as well as encourage local businesses to remain in the area. We're delighted to have supported the group in achieving another valuable asset for the community."

The units are architect designed and cost £182,000 - with HIE awarding £54,000, £118,000 from LEADER, and the balance from KWHG. KWHG is the local anchor organisation for HIE's community account management model, part-funded by LEADER, which supports community groups to employ a local development officer to create a comprehensive 'growth plan' for their area.

In 2011 KWHG, together with OctoberFilms, built the Strathcarron Treehouse in just five days as part of Sky TV's Great British Treehouse Challenge. The building has proved to be a fantastic, unique resource, a venue for meetings, a nature classroom for music sessions, cultural events and photo-shoots.

In July this year the Treehouse and newly completed Birchwood Cabin hosted a Summer Celebration, including a craft showcase and free concert with musicians Matt Morrow, Texas Tim Scott and Highland guitarist Hamish Roberts - all performing as part of the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival Fringe.

The immediate plans of KWHG include the development of the land it owns at the Smithy Barn, Strathcarron and the community acquisition of the 93ha Kirkton Woods from Forestry Commission, Scotland. KWHG submitted a successful application to purchase the woodland through the National Forest Land Scheme in 2011. A valuation of £90,000 was placed on the woodland and the community has until March 2013 to raise the necessary funds to purchase.

More information on the Kirkton Woodland and Heritage Group can be found at www.kirktonwoodlands.wordpress.com
 

 


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