A SCOTTISH island is looking forward to gaining a new lease of life after beginning the construction of affordable homes.

Colonsay, in the Inner Hebrides, which has a population of 125, was facing a difficult future, with an increasing number of holiday and second homes and a shortages of housing for residents.

In response, Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC) is leading a project to provide homes and new business opportunities, with support from the Communities Housing Trust. The initial development of nine new affordable homes just outside Scalasaig and close to the ferry terminal is expected to be complete in the autumn.

The properties are a mix of affordable rent and discounted sale homes, as well as discounted self-build plots. A second phase of further affordable housing is planned.

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Homes for Mowi seafood staff also form part of the development, which will return to the community if and when they’re no longer needed.

Two new community-owned commercial units are being built as workshop or studio space, to enable existing businesses to grow or new ones to start up. Applications are now open for all properties, with a deadline of March 19 for the self-build plots and houses for sale, and a deadline of July 2 for the rental properties.

People on the island or with local connections through work or family will be prioritised but others from outwith the island with particular skillsets and who wish to live and work in Colonsay and contribute to island life are also invited to apply.

There are four two-to-three- bedroom homes available for affordable rent, two two-to-three-bedroom homes for discounted sale, and three discounted self-build plots.

Funding has been obtained from a series of sources. CCDC director Dannie Onn, said: “CCDC is looking forward to housing our homeless folk and welcoming new people and families to this beautiful island.

“We hope they will be part of a fresh impetus for building opportunities for work and life here as part of a sustainable community. It has taken a while to get here, but the legal and financial incentives put in place by the Scottish Government to promote sustainable, self-reliant communities on the Scottish Islands looks to be paying off in Colonsay.”

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Ronnie MacRae, CEO of the Communities Housing Trust said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for islanders or folk really keen to move to Colonsay.# “With the homes and the business units, it’s the full package to provide a secure, long-term future for individual families, as well as the island itself. We’d like to particularly thank the Scottish Government for their funding support.

“CCDC’s dedication to this project and community is inspiring, and a positive example to other rural and island populations which may be struggling. Community-led projects can really make a world of difference to sustaining a community for generations to come.”

To find out more see www.chtrust.co.uk/current-opportunities.html