Communities Housing Trust (CHT) is a registered charity working with communities to provide affordable housing and amenities in remote and rural places throughout central and northern Scotland. We take a collaborative, partnership approach which was demonstrated in the Old Sawmill project at Rothiemurchus near Aviemore. It’s an excellent example of a win-win collaboration on estate land to secure affordable housing using self-build, within the Cairngorms National Park. With an innovative and replicable cross-subsidy model, we facilitated four homes for local families. The development also achieves the objectives of the Local Authority and Scottish Government.
The original plan by Rural Design sought to provide high quality family homes, using local and sustainable materials where possible, and embody the Rothiemurchus vernacular for example with larch cladding and tin roofing. The homes are sensitively designed within the landscape as a contemporary blueprint for the future, making the most of the special location with large windows overlooking rear private gardens and then mixed Scots pine and birch woodland and heath. The front of the homes are open, providing a communal aspect important to the co-operative. The four affordable homes were individual self-build projects and hence differ slightly. One is a panel kit-home, with high wall insulation; some are timber frame, as fuel- and energy-efficient as possible, with triple glazing and air-source heat pumps. One has solar photo-voltaics, with more to follow suit, and EPCs on the homes range from B+ to A. All aimed to go above and beyond current building regulations. There are also high standards set by the Cairngorms National Park Authority and stringent planning, hence the design had to be detailed to be approved, on this sensitive site. The kit home, provided by Scotframe, includes panels with blown insulation to be as air-tight as possible. The owners are installing a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery unit. The building contractors for the remaining homes were local Grantown company AW Laing Ltd, with Scottish timber fixings and cladding supplied by Russwood in Newtonmore, both within 17 miles of the site.