Highland Council agrees next steps for Isle of Skye and Raasay investment plan
Members of the Highland Council’s Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee have approved the next phase in the local authority’s approach to engagement on the Skye and Raasay Investment Plan.
The preparation of this place-based investment plan for the area seeks to ensure that public sector agencies, businesses, community interest groups and the wider community work together to agree a joined-up investment plan which supports economic recovery and addresses the unique challenges Skye and Raasay face.
Members also agreed a proposal to refer a final draft of the plan to a future meeting for approval.
Councillor John Gordon, chair of the Isle of Skye and Raasay Area Committee, said: “For Skye and Raasay to retain their reputations as internationally renowned sustainable tourism destinations a co-ordinated approach is required to identify priorities and investment.
“A strong and diverse economy with a range of employment opportunities will promote wellbeing and attract investment. Access to modern digital connections and a high-quality transport network is vital to ensure the areas are competitive and support wider ambitions for both.”
Malcolm MacLeod, report author and executive chief officer for infrastructure and environment, said: “This plan helps strengthen communities to make them strong, capable and resourceful which are properly housed. This is vital for the social and economic growth of both areas.
“And the ability to deliver modern health and education facilities ensures the areas are resilient and attractive places to live.”
A simple four-step approach to engagement is proposed including: re-affirming/checking the priorities and outcomes for the area; consider the projects in terms of their benefits, cost, value for money, cross-over and interdependencies with other projects; identifying funding options for delivery and addressing budget gaps; identify responsibilities and timescales for deliver in the short, medium and long term.
The proposed engagement events will be carried out in two stages during December and early January. The first event will involve lead partners, agencies, Development Trusts, project leads and key community representatives.
The second event would broaden the audience to include the wider public and any other interested parties. All events will be held online. Interactive mapping may be used to engage the audience and act as a forum for collating feedback.
The Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise will lead the process and seek assistance from Architecture and Design Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust to provide independent facilitation at the engagement sessions.
These organisations will also add value in terms of place making, design and feasibility and in identifying the funding opportunities, actions and responsibilities for delivery.
Councillor John Finlayson, chair of Highland Council’s Education Committee, also welcomed the engagement approaches outlined and was keen to mention how the plan will also look to support the development of education facilities on the island and in particular new schools for Broadford and Dunvegan.
Stuart MacPherson, head of strategic projects for HIE in Skye, Wester Ross & Lochaber, and chair of the Skye, Lochalsh and Wester Ross Community Planning Partnership, added: “We are very pleased Highland Council has progressed work on the plan to this stage. This is now a very good opportunity to showcase the broad range of projects already underway, and to encourage collaboration on future projects that will ensure both Skye and Raasay continue to be excellent places to live, work, study, invest, and visit.”
The investment plan will be finalised at the start of 2021 and a final draft is intended to be presented to the Area Committee on 1 March 2021 for approval.