Plans to transform an area of Portree into a modern hub for community, sport, recreation, and business have got underway.
The Portree and Braes Community Trust and local partners want to explore the potential to develop land and buildings under community ownership through its ‘Reimagining Camanachd Square’ options appraisal and masterplan.
Assets earmarked within the regeneration plans include the Portree community centre building, the King George V playing fields, the red pitch community skate park facility, and the old swimming pool site.
At present the community facilities in Camanachd Square are owned, leased, and maintained by multiple organisations.
An options appraisal, masterplan, and business case study will examine existing and potential uses for the community centre and adjacent facilities and will guide the long-term regeneration of the area.
Portree and Braes Community Trust development officer Fiona Thomson said: “The Portree Community Centre Association voluntary board members have worked incredibly hard over the past year to secure the immediate future of the community centre.
“With support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise the electrics have been upgraded and with an award from the Town Centre fund renovations are underway in the small hall, while a new office space with a dedicated entrance has been created and SEALL are now leasing the space to use as a base for the Culture Collective project.
“The PCCA committee is also in the process of making arrangements to rent an outside pitch to a mobile catering business in 2022.
“These steps will create an important income for the centre, helping the committee to ensure that the building stays in use and that it does not fall into further disrepair. Once the renovations of the small hall are complete this should also open more opportunities for the community to make use of the centre once again.
“However, long-term significant investment will still be required to bring the whole building and surrounding facilities up to a suitable standard and create modern community facilities which are energy efficient and fit for the future.
“With this in mind, over the next six to 12 months, the Portree and Braes Community Trust will be working closely with the PCCA and other stakeholders to deliver the Reimagining Camanachd Square project which will produce a robust plan for the future and a business case supporting investment in the area.”
Fiona added: “It’s an exciting and necessary piece of work. There is an abundance of evidence across Skye and the Western Isles of communities taking ownership of land and being able to deliver huge benefits for residents and visitors through community-led building projects.
“The Talla Na Mara centre in west Harris and the An Crubh centre in Sleat are just two great examples of what can be achieved. There is similar potential in Portree and Braes and this project is a key first step.”
To date, the Trust has held discussions with the Portree Tennis and Squash club, The Portree Youth Club, Portree Football club, Skye and Lochalsh Running and Athletics Club, Skye Events, The Portree Community Centre Association, Portree Nursery, the Men’s Shed and Atlas Arts about how to best use land and buildings in the area for the benefit of the community.
Through its partnerships with the Highland Council, HIE, and the Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association – which have produced projects benefiting the community – the Trust says it will ensure that plans for Camanachd Square are delivered in a collaborative manner.
The Coastal Communities Fund has awarded the Trust £29,000 in funding to deliver Part 1 and Part 2 of the Reimagining Camanachd Square project by December 2022.
The final date for tender submissions is 17th December, and a consultant will be appointed the week commencing 3rd January 2022.
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Article by Adam Gordon, image by Willie Urquhart.