In 2010 the Ross of Mull and Iona, including Pennyghael and Tiroran, was identified by Highlands and Islands Enterprise as an area which could benefit from funding support through the “Growth at the Edge Project”. This funding enabled the area to have a Local Development Officer whose first job was to extensively consult the local community. Eleven public meetings were held over 3 months and a household survey was sent to 333 resident households on the Ross and Iona. The survey had a response rate of 48% and provided a strong base of information. The information gathered from the community at the consultation sessions, one to one conversations and the household survey was combined with a socio-economic analysis of the area based on official statistics to produce the Ross of Mull and Iona Community Plan,
Throughout the process the Ross of Mull and Iona Development Group (now South West Mull and Iona Development) monitored the results of the consultations and the socio-economic analysis and established seven outcomes which we hope to achieve by addressing the action points identified in the community plan. The outcomes are listed below and projects which South West Mull and Iona Development are involved in must contribute to meeting these outcomes.
- A larger and more balanced population
- A fit-for-purpose infrastructure
- A stronger more diverse business base
- Increase in average household income
- Strengthened local culture
- Improved community resilience
- A fully developed social infrastructure
We found that the outcomes from 2011 were still relevant and suggestions were made as to how we can work towards achieving these outcomes, including; improving our village halls and spaces and providing better facilities; developing our marine infrastructure; providing more employment opportunities; and creating a more effective local democracy with greater input on issues such as health.
It was exciting to reflect on the progress SWMID has made in our purchase of Tiroran Community Forest on behalf of the communities of South West Mull and Iona. It was clear from the consultations that local people recognise TCF as being a real asset and were in agreement that the forest must be managed in a sustainable manner. Community ideas for the forest include; a visitor centre, camp site, walking routes and adventure playground, along with opportunities for business and employment, renewables and woodland crofts.
In response to an action point from the 2011 community plan, SWMID has been working with Historic Environment Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise with a view to taking over management of the Columba Centre and developing it as a local resource. At the consultations, people said that they want to see the Centre being used for an arts and crafts exhibition and work shop area, office/meeting/consulting space, business industrial units, skills development and training, café and retail opportunities.
We were delighted by the response to the consultations and will be updating the community plan shortly.
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