Housing Phase 2: SDT are undergoing a housing needs assessment for phase 2 of the housing project. This will most likely, given the current housing market in Orkney, be 2-3 new builds. Grants from the rural housing fund and the Scottish land fund have enabled us to undertake the feasibility works in relation to 2-3 houses being built on up to 4 possible sites. Once feasibility has been done, further consultation with the board and/or public will take place.

HOUSING PHASE 1: SDT’s Housing Needs Assessment Report undertaken in October 2017 demonstrated that there was a need for affordable Housing in Shapinsay.

In May 2019 SDT was successful in securing a Scottish Land Fund Stage 1 Feasibility grant to undertake further consultation work around the potential location of affordable housing, which ruled out new-build. This consultation also helped us to identify the need to attract young families to Shapinsay.

After further consultation with the community, we turned our attention to purchasing existing properties that had been on the market for over a year, and with grant funding from Scottish Land Fund (Stage 2), were able to purchase two properties in Balfour village: Number 9 in July 2020 and the Schoolhouse in January 2021

Working with a local architect, we put together a list of works required to completely renovate both properties, including extensive insulation and efficient heating systems, and used this to successfully apply to the Rural Housing Fund for grant aid for the works. The Greener homes fund also funded extra insulation, doors and double glazed windows.

At this point the work for each property was put out to tender and local contractors were successful.

Work commenced on number 9 in July 2020 and a little later due to technical problems on the Schoolhouse in February 2021

In July 2020 we created a Housing Subgroup of the Trust, specifically to liaise with the Project Manager in order to ensure the project was on schedule regarding time and budget and to liaise with other relevant agencies, in particular OIC and a Social Housing Manager in order to give informed decisions and feedback to SDT Board.

The Board at this point, approached D&H to be the lettings agency for both properties.

The subgroup, with assistance from OIC and D&H, developed a local lettings policy with a points system weighted to attracting young families to Shapinsay.

Number 9 was completed around May 2021 and is available for let.

The Schoolhouse has been completed in July 2021 and is currently occupied by a family.

9 Balfour Village Shapinsay

Ever dreamt of moving your family to a Scottish Island? Of becoming an important part of a tight-knit, warm and welcoming community while having breath-taking scenery just beyond your doorstep?

The Shapinsay Development Trust is looking for a family to move to the Orkney island of Shapinsay and take up residence in a beautiful, trust-owned home in the heart of the main village.

The search is on for a family with 2+ Primary school-age children to play a vital role in keeping the Shapinsay Community School staffed with two teachers and help keep the school roll up. 

Shapinsay has been very fortunate to see so many great families make use of the school. Over the years, a fantastic relationship between families and the school staff has developed. 

The school itself received an absolutely glowing inspector’s report in 2015, finding the staff using innovative practices that Education Scotland would like to see used in other schools. The school also earned a Gold sports award from SportScotland in 2018 for its commitment to sports.

Head teacher of the school Emma Clements said: “Shapinsay School provides a small school experience, but with big opportunities. We have small numbers in our classes, and we strive to give every child an individual experience, according to their needs. We encourage the children to become independent thinkers who are able to take real responsibility. 

“Children take part in pupil groups which set their own targets, and make a difference to the life of the school. Children of all ages also get opportunities to work together, which means that the school has a family atmosphere.

“More children attending the school would mean that it  is able to retain two primary classes going forward. The school is a big part of the community, taking part in community events. In turn,  the community supports the school in many different ways.

“New children and families coming to the school help the children to make new friendships and to learn about different places. New families are included in the life of the school and the community.”

The trust has a traditionally Orcadian, three-bedroom house for rent for only £500 per month. The property has very recently been modernised to a high standard on the inside. Using a grant from the Green Homes fund, the trust has been able to put in double glazing, high quality insulation and efficient air source heating.

Shapinsay has all the benefits of island life: space to yourself, a strong community and, of course, incredible scenery that you can only find on an island. The island’s 300-or-so inhabitants also have a strong and supportive community which comes together for many annual events from Ceilidhs and dances, to bingo, coffee afternoons, drawing clubs, film clubs and so much more. The big event of the year is the annual agricultural show held every August.

The island is just 25 minutes away by ferry from the Orkney Mainland. After 6pm the Shapinsay Development Trust run a small boat service to allow for all the benefits of living on the mainland, with all the tranquility and sense of community that comes with staying on a small island

Shapinsay has all the basic services you would expect, such as a school, doctors surgery, healthy living centre, community centre, post office and a well-stocked local shop, selling everything from petrol to all the refillable, like milk, nuts, honey and so much more. All of this is within walking distance of the pier!

The island boasts a range of historic sites, such as the iconic, eighteenth-century Balfour Castle. The influence of the man behind the castle, David Balfour, can be seen all over Shapinsay and the area’s rich history is worth learning more about. Check out Shapinsay.org.uk for more information.

Lisa-Marie Muir, from the Shapinsay Development Trust said:

“We know there is a family out there who would be an ideal match for Number 9 and welcoming new children to the school would be a boost felt throughout our community.

“It may be that for some, the idea of moving to an island and adopting the unique lifestyle seems out of reach. But, with the way that people are working from home these days it really is easier than ever for someone to make the move.

“Shapinsay is such a safe place to bring up your bairns, you never need to worry about where they are and what they are up to. They spend their summers in wetsuits, swimming at the pier or the beach, or cycling all over the island. In normal times, there’s always something for them to do during the winter – from football to badminton and youth club to climbing. Hopefully we will get back to that level of activity very soon!”

“We were so excited to see work completed on Number 9 and to be able to let it. We would be over-the-moon to find the right people to make it their home.”

Shapinsay Development Trust bought No9 along with another house and renovated them to a high standard, as part of their five-year development plan to create affordable housing on the island. “There were times, during the pandemic, where we wondered if we would ever get to this stage, but we are delighted to get to completion and finally be ready to rent the house out to a lovely family”

Serena Sutherland, of letting agents d and h, said: “The property really does offer the perfect opportunity for a family to have a true experience of island life, without the commitment of buying a new house.

“With two living rooms, an enclosed yard at the back of the house and a front garden with sea views, the school and the playpark just a stone’s throw away, the property has everything a family could want in a home in the islands while the fact that it has recently been modernised means it is comfortable and everything is in good working-order.”

d and h are delighted to play a part in the process of boosting the Shapinsay community.

To express in interest in renting the property please contact d and h on 01856 872216 or email enquiries@dandhlaw.co.uk