It was announced recently that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been successful in its application to the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) for £300,000 to upgrade and refurbish the old Leverhulme Memorial School building in Leverburgh, Isle of Harris. The community was successful in acquiring the Building from the Comhairle in 2020 and the RCGF funding awarded will now to go towards developing the project.
A Development Trust - Leverhulme Community Hub Ltd (LCH) - will be responsible for delivering the community-owned and run project, to provide an economic Hub in the centre of the village, adjacent to - and in collaboration with - the local shop (An Clachan) and village hall.
Run as a social enterprise it will comprise: a Café/ restaurant; Launderette; Gym; Post Office; and office-space to accommodate a satellite-office of the Comhairle - contributing to the local economy, promoting health & well-being, and enhancing quality of life in the community.
It will also offer a charity shop and museum/ historical archive, celebrating local history (e.g. Harris Tweed) and Gaelic language - providing a new ‘visitor destination’ for the annual 54,000 passengers on the Berneray Ferry and the 130,000 visitors to Harris each year.
Chair of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee, Cllr. Donald Crichton said: “We were delighted to learn of the success of the Leverhulme Community Hub in attracting Scottish Government capital funding towards this exciting and innovative development in Leverburgh. Initiatives to grow the south Harris economy are welcome, especially during these testing times.”
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “Tackling disadvantage and delivering inclusive growth right across Scotland - including in remote locations – is what the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund is all about. Together with COSLA, we’ve delivered almost £200 million to date for community regeneration projects.
“This project will see a former school rescued from demolition, and brought back into use to deliver a broad range of vital facilities and services for the community, celebrating the Gaelic language and local heritage, enhancing the economy and promoting health and wellbeing.”
LCH’s Chairman Angus Macleod said “Leverhulme Community Hub are delighted to be in receipt of this funding which is a real turning point for the future of the project. For a long time now, we have seen the need in our area for regeneration, more facilities and a place that will bring people together - the Hub will serve all these purposes. We’re living in difficult times, and the future is uncertain, but we feel this is more reason than ever to put our efforts into bringing out plans for a multi-purpose, multi-benefit building to fruition. We are extremely grateful for the support from the RCGF, CNES and its officers and our advisors. This brings us considerably closer to putting South Harris back on the map in terms of amenities and community regeneration. It’s undoubtedly an exciting time for us all and a bit of hope amongst the worries of the current world.”