Tobermory Harbour

Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, reflects on how community organisations are transforming their local areas.

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days on Mull recently, and to have the chance to catch up properly with some of our community clients on the island.

Mull is a great advert not only for the importance of local people driving social and economic development (who better to spot innovative opportunities?), but also of delivering the benefits of community-led investments.

It was fantastic to reflect on how HIE and other public sector partners have been able to support these transformational projects; projects made possible mostly thanks to a partnership approach and the vision and ambition within community organisations.

A great example is Tobermory Harbour Association (THA), which has a strong track record of delivering capital projects. Since 2017 THA has completed a series of improvements within the harbour to facilitate safe, non-tidal berthing for various vessels.

Anne Fraser, who is general manager, says they now have their sights set on nearby Aros Park, redeveloping the former boathouse and pier. The plan is to transform these assets into an outdoor activity hub, creating an anchor for wider park activities and safe access for watersports within the harbour. We recently approved funding of £240,000 towards these plans.

Next up, I met with Moray Finch, general manager and Mairi Greig, deputy manager of Mull and Iona Community Trust (MICT). We’ve had a long relationship with MICT for many years. 

Moray and Mairi showed me round Nonhebel Park, just north of Tobermory. The development of Nonhebel Park was completed in early 2020, providing much needed premises for small businesses. Units, lock-ups and secure compounds are now 100% let, exemplifying the need for these types of facilities, so much so that MICT is now taking forward plans to develop a further phase of small units.

I also took the opportunity to visit Ulva to see North West Mull Community Woodland Company, which purchased the island in 2018.  Director John Addy and Ulva development manager Wendy Reid showed me the east side of the island, where much work has progressed since the acquisition. Most notable is the redevelopment of the housing stock, which has been vital doubling Ulva’s population.

As I walked up the pontoon after leaving Ulva, I could see the motorhome site and the new car parking facilities at Ulva Ferry. These are all improvements taken forward by MICT over recent years as part of the focus on regenerating the area and securing the future of the local primary school. 

A shore services facility is the next stage of development, due to start work within the next couple of months, providing enhanced facilities for visitors and a space for the community to use. This is a project for which we were pleased to be able to approve a contribution of almost £250,000.

It's visits like this, and meeting the dedicated and committed individuals involved in community-led development, that make me so glad to be part of an organisation that has for so long supported grassroots driven community wealth building.

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