Construction is well underway of a new community-owned bunkhouse on a Scottish island mostly designated as a National Nature Reserve.
The Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT) is developing the 20-bed bunkhouse to attract more visitors to the isle and secure a new income for the community. Rum became well known across the UK after featuring on the BBC1 programme Autumnwatch.
IRCT was formed in April 2007. Following a community vote in 2009, IRCT assumed control of land and assets around the village of Kinloch from island managers SNH.
The £874,000 bunkhouse will be owned and managed by IRCT. The project will create two new jobs while also increasing turnover by almost £100,000 in three years. The construction costs are being supported by £219,436 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) while IRCT are investing almost £30,000 in the bunkhouse project, a significant sum for a small community group.
In addition, IRCT also applied to the Big Lottery's Growing Community Assets fund for revenue funding of £58,412 over two years which was approved in March 2013.
Allan Henderson, Chairman of IRCT said: "We are really excited to see the bunkhouse construction moving so quickly. It will mean a tremendous amount to the community on Rum, bringing in a new badly needed income stream and providing two new jobs. I have great admiration for the effort of this small community working hard to replace the gap left by the closure of the castle accommodation."
The new bunkhouse is being constructed by James MacQueen Builders. The company built the kit for the bunkhouse on Skye and assembled the pieces on location on Rum. The building should be completed by Autumn 2014. The building is designed to be self-sufficient, with water efficiency measures built in and solar thermal technology planned to provide hot water.
Jacqueline McDonell from HIE, said: “We are delighted to be supporting IRCT with the bunkhouse project and it is extremely exciting to see the building already taking shape. When it is complete it should create an additional income stream for the community while also providing facilities for general visitors, study groups and contractors.”
Rum is the largest of the Small Isles, located off the west coast of Scotland. It has evidence of some of the earliest human habitation in Scotland, dating back to around 8,000BC. The island managed by SNH is designated a National Nature Reserve and a Ranger Service provides events and activities for locals and visitors.
In 2008, HIE and SNH jointly supported a Local Development Officer post on the island to facilitate the transfer of assets from SNH and to support the community in development planning. One of the first large projects undertaken by IRCT was the construction of a kitchen extension and decked area for the village hall. Since then, several projects have been undertaken including the creation and lease of crofts on the island, maintenance works to infrastructure including housing, purchase of camping cabins, development of a campsite and the installation of broadband. Other projects, such as a Visitor Management Plan and the creation of a shelter and interpretation point at the Pier have been undertaken jointly by the community and SNH.
For more information on the Rum Bunkhouse, visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rumbunkhouse