In September of this year an open letter regarding the current housing crisis in the Scottish Highlands and Islands was published by a group of community figures from Uist, Skye, Argyll and Mull. The letter has been gaining traction in national and international press and was recently raised in a Parliamentary Cross Party Members Debate by Alasdair Allan, MSP.
Addressed to ‘all for whom sustaining Highlands and Islands communities is a concern’, the letter focuses on growing worries that rising property prices in Scotland’s Highland and Island communities are making it almost impossible for local residents to purchase homes, a pre-existing concern that is being intensified by post-Covid ‘urban flight’ and an even greater number of cash buyers seeking second homes.
The letter calls for increased support for younger generations struggling to make their homes in the Highlands and Islands and cites a recent example of a Uist rental property successfully being marketed exclusively to young locals and rented to a family with three children. In a housing market where long term rentals are almost exclusively shunned in favour of holiday lets, the letter writers point out that this could serve as a template moving forwards.
The passionate and insightful letter has prompted national and international interest. It has been mentioned in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and The Herald as well as local papers Am Paipear, The West Highland Free Press and the Stornoway Gazette. It was the top trending item on the BBC News online, has featured in Eorpa on BBC Alba, on BBC TV Scottish News and The Nine as well as on Radio Scotland, Times radio and Radio nan Gaidheal in conversations with the leader of the council and Hebridean Housing Partnership.
The letter can be read in full here.
The Parliamentary Cross Party Debate can be watched here.