Carloway Community Association (Coimhearsnachd Chàrlabhaigh) is refurbishing and extending the old Carloway Primary School. The building was taken into community ownership in 2017 following its closure four years earlier.
The community group has been awarded £200,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for the ambitious £1m project. The 140-year old building will be modern, energy-efficient and fit for purpose for generations to come.
Plans include a community shop, a commercial kitchen, improvements to the existing hall, office and meeting space along with a permanent home for Comann Eachdraidh Chàrlabhaigh and Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh.
Mairi Steele, Carloway Community Association Chair, said: “The redevelopment will ensure that the building will be modern and low carbon and benefit local people and visitors. The community is absolutely delighted that support from HIE, other organisations and individuals have made it possible for this exciting project to get to this stage.”
A successful Crowdfunding campaign and ongoing fundraising efforts mean that the community is contributing £30,000 to the costs of the project.
On the other side of the island in Point, work is underway to redevelop the old Knock Primary School, complete with state-of-the-art green energy features. These include solar PV panels and an air source heat pump, which will help the building become virtually self-sufficient in energy and ultimately powered by a local turbine of its own, in addition to solar.
The £1m renovation project secured £200,000 from HIE. The building has been home to the community wind farm organisation Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) and Comann Eachdraidh An Rubha as well as Bùth An Rubha and Café Roo since 2014.
A dedicated museum and exhibition space will be created for Comann Eachdraidh an Rubha and Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe and improved offices for PST, archive and storage facilities for the Rudhach community paper and a meeting room. There will also be a flexible multi-use area, complete with office facilities and wifi, for community use.
Urras Stòras an Rubha secretary, Catriona Dunn, said: “It has been a long haul since we acquired the building in 2012 and it is an enormous relief to have secured the funding for the project. We are extremely grateful to all our funders for seeing the community benefit in our plans.
“HIE has been interested and supportive from the outset and have given valuable advice along the way. We are also grateful to our three Sgìre An Rubha councillors and to the community for their encouragement and support. We now look forward to seeing a vibrant community hub with excellent facilities at a key site in Point. “
Rachel Mackenzie, HIE’s area manager in the Outer Hebrides, said: “We are very pleased that our grant awards to both community groups have supported the provision of facilities that benefit both local people and visitors. Population growth is at the heart of our mission and both projects promote innovation and employment and help deliver sustainable growth as well as social and economic recovery in our fragile communities.”