Highlands & Islands

Highlands and Islands Enterprise to sell estate on Skye

Orbost Image copyright John Allan / Geograph
Image caption The Orbost Estate involves a farm and smallholdings

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is selling an estate it took over 22 years ago to boost the local economy.

The 5,775-acre (2,337ha) Orbost Estate in Skye has a 4,176-acre (1,690ha) farm, six smallholdings, two workshops and 1,152 acres (612ha) of forestry.

Since buying the land in 1997, HIE has had four affordable homes built and plots have been available for two more.

Twelve people in five families now derive at least part of their income from activities on the estate.

HIE, which bought the estate for more than £500,000 with the aim of improving access to affordable housing and land, said it is planning for a phased exit from its ownership.

Under the plans, the farm and farmhouse would be offered for sale to the tenant and the smallholdings are to be made into six new crofts, which would also be offered for sale to current tenants.

The HIE-owned housing would also be offered for sale, either to the occupants or to a housing association. Community interest in the forestry is to be sought first before possible sale on the open market.

Image copyright HIE
Image caption The estate's smallholdings are to be converted into six crofts

Robert Muir, HIE's Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross area manager, said: "We've kept our ownership of Orbost estate under regular review.

"There has been considerable progress in deriving benefits from the estate, particularly access to land for farming and crofting and workshop space for commercial enterprises.

"New affordable housing has been provided with potential for more.

"With the estate now in a much stronger position, we feel this is the time for HIE to begin a phased exit."

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