Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been successful in securing a cash injection of around £200,000 to help shape future heritage development in the Outer Hebrides, one of the first awards to be made through The National Lottery’s new Great Place scheme.
The Great Places Scheme has been devised and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in consultation with organisations involved in regeneration to ensure it responds to the specific needs of Scottish places, from city-wide initiatives to smaller, rural schemes.
The Comhairle’s heritage service will use the funding to place heritage at the heart of joined-up thinking to create a better place for people to live and visit.
The project, which will see an investment of just under £200,000, will help develop and implement a Great Place Strategy for the whole island chain, placing heritage at the heart of joined-up thinking to create a better place for people to live and visit.
The Comhairle and Highlands and Islands Enterprise collaborated to propose the work which will generate new links between heritage, arts and tourism to build economic growth and contribute to solving the challenging problems of population decline, access to work and access to recreation.
Community heritage organisations, landowning trusts, arts organisations including An Lanntair and Taigh Chearsabhagh, and tourism sector group Outer Hebrides Tourism recognised the need to work together to tackle economic challenges and gave their support to the application.
The Great Place Strategy will propose actions both in the short-term and over a ten-year period which can deliver change for communities across the Outer Hebrides, with development and consultation work starting this summer.
Councillor Donald Crichton, Chairman of Sustainable Development at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to secure this funding from The National Lottery’s new Great Place Scheme. The funding will help develop projects and collaborations centred on the islands’ unique culture and heritage to address issues such as poverty, employment, health and education.”
Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “You can’t imagine the Outer Hebrides without it’s lovely scenery, spectacular beaches, traditional Gaelic communities and ancient historical sites. Heritage and culture gives the place a unique identity and makes it special for the people that live there. It’s the roots if you like. This scheme will show how building on those roots can have a hugely positive impact on the local economy in terms of health, employment and education, as well as well as instilling community cohesion and pride.
“Thanks to players of The National Lottery, we are enabling a step-change in thinking, encouraging local leaders to come together and recognise that heritage is a driving force for change for the Western Isles.”
Rachel Mackenzie, HIE Area Manager, said: “We are to delighted to hear of the award and look forward to working in partnership with the Comhairle to develop a Great Place Strategy that realises the economic potential of our unique heritage assets.
"We also acknowledge the input from community organisations in taking the proposal forward and intend for this productive relationship to continue as the strategy develops.”
A recent report highlighted that tourism related to heritage in the Islands has the potential to be worth £8m and 160 FTE jobs.