Concerns are growing in Plockton that the last available council house in the village may be put on the open market.
Highland Council had pledged last year to refurbish and re-let the property which it owns at 14 Harbour Street after the long-term tenant moved out.
But the council now appears poised to reverse that decision and sell the three-bedroom home because tenders for its renovation have come back so high.
The house, which is known locally as Dan’s house, has been vacant for around three years when the previous tenant moved into a nursing home.
Plockton Community Council campaigned successfully last year for 14 Harbour Street to be retained for social rent in the village where a high percentage of the housing stock are holiday homes.
However, after putting the renovation work out to tender, it is understood Highland Council has received quotes of around £250,000 to bring the property up to standard.
Community Council chairman David McGhie has now written to council convener Margaret Davidson seeking clarification and reassurances.
In his letter, Mr McGhie said: “Plockton and District has an exceptionally high number of holiday homes and second homes. Prices for property are vastly inflated compared to other areas in the Highland region.
“These factors, together with a desperate shortage of available property in the area, contribute to great challenges for young families and locals wishing to live, work and contribute to our communities.
“It is for these reasons that it is vitally important that we preserve the properties that may support social housing.
“We have heard anecdotally that the cost of repair and refurbishment is extremely high. We would request a complete disclosure of any specifications and quotations received in relation to this property in order that we may fully understand the process.”
Mr McGhie said although basically sound, the property is in an extremely poor state of repair as a result of Highland Council’s failure to maintain it over many years.
No 14 Harbour Street is a traditionally built property, with a lean-to tin-roofed kitchen, which was obtained by the local housing association many years ago in a bid to boost the social housing stock. It was later transferred to council ownership.
Local Highland councillor Biz Campbell, who has been helping the community in their campaign, said: “It would be a great shame if it was to go on the open market. It’s the principle of social housing being sold when people are so desperate to stay in their own communities yet can’t afford house prices locally.
“The community council are asking, rightly, why did the tender come back so high. I know the price of materials has rocketed since Brexit but even so, it seems very high.”
Local resident Charlie M MacRae, a former community council chairman of many years, said: “It would be a disaster for Plockton to get another holiday home in Harbour Street. Of the 44 houses in the street, only one has children in it. Plockton is becoming a community with a very elderly population and the school roll is dropping.”
The community council is seeking a meeting with the council to ascertain its plans for the property.
Article by Jackie MacKenzie and image by Willie Urquhart.