People and the landscape in Iona, where the Iona Energy community owned energy company plans to install a ground source heat network to provide islanders with clean, green, sustainable energy.

Big win for rural housing as eight community projects share in £300,000 funding

12 April 2024

People in eight Scottish communities are celebrating after they were awarded grants by Crown Estate Scotland to support a range of social enterprises in their local areas.  

This year’s winners show a particular focus on constructing new houses and renovation of existing buildings to provide both affordable homes and better facilities for small businesses and local communities.  

In addition, outline plans to create an ambitious ground-source heat network for people living in Iona have received backing from Crown Estate Scotland’s Community Capacity Grants programme.

The Community Capacity Grants are part of Crown Estate Scotland’s Sustainable Communities Fund which, since its launch in 2020, has distributed more than £1.4m to a wide range of innovative projects across the country, including 12 affordable housing projects which have together shared in more than £400,000.

One previous recipient of a Community Capacity Grant is The Ridge, a training provider in Dunbar, East Lothian, which received £50,000 in 2023 to help deliver skills training for young people.  

This short film showcases the transformational work of The Ridge and hears from the young people involved

The latest successful Community Capacity projects, delivered in partnership with Foundation Scotland, are:  

  • Applecross Community Company (Highland) £43K. Help to develop 12-16 energy-efficient affordable home and four business units.
  • Ionad Throndairnis (Highland) £18K. Funding will allow for a feasibility study to renovate the Dun Flodigarry Hostel in Skye, providing a new community resource.  
  • Communities Housing Trust (Highland) £47K. Assistance with costs for of the architectural and designer services required for eight affordable homes in Torridon.  
  • Gatehouse Development Initiative (Dumfries & Galloway) £33K. The grant will support construction of community owned homes on a derelict site in Gatehouse of Fleet.
  • Iona Energy (Argyll & Bute) £47K. Community owned energy company planning to install a ground source heat network to provide islanders with clean, green, sustainable energy.
  • Morvern Community Development (Highland) - £37K. Funding for a project manager to help deliver plans for 10 eco-friendly family homes in Lochaline.  
  • Nether Lochaber Community Association (Highland) - £47K. The money will help transform a derelict local barn into a viable community hub.  
  • Uig Development Trust (Highland) - £32K. Help to develop modern, affordable, energy efficient workspaces for local businesses via 7 steel-fabricated business units.  


Shiona Ruhemann, of Iona Renewables, said: “Crown Estate Scotland’s grant is a fantastic boost to help our small island community deliver a communal, low-emission, low-cost heating system and to enable residents to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels.”

“The ground source heat network will be owned, operated, and maintained by the community and support Iona’s sustainability in the long-term. The heat network is the optimal and only viable solution in this specific island context, and having experienced construction delays due to COVID-19, it’s great to finally be back on track. We’re delighted to have such valuable support from Crown Estate Scotland.”


Ken Smyth, Secretary of the Gatehouse Development Initiative, said: “The Gatehouse Development Initiative is delighted to receive the support of the Crown Estate via a Community Capacity Grant to progress our affordable community homes project. The grant will enable us to progress the feasibility study through to planning stage, supporting our aim to bring this derelict brownfield site back into use for community benefit.  

“We would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the Crown Estate Fund and Foundation Scotland on behalf of the wider Gatehouse community for recognising the value and importance of this project to the local community.”  

Community Capacity grants are open to all communities which are located within five miles of Scotland’s coastline, or within five miles of Crown Estate Scotland’s four rural estates, to undertake early stage projects that contribute to local regeneration and sustainable development. 


Annie Breaden, Head of Policy for Crown Estate Scotland, said: “This latest round of applications were of a very high standard and we at Crown Estate Scotland are excited to be supporting such important and positive projects.  

“This year has seen a particular ask for assistance with providing new, sustainable homes, and improved business and community spaces. These practical ideas to help improve everyday life for thousands of people are precisely the types of projects we are keen to enable, and we look forward with great interest to see how they develop.”  

Applications for the next round of the Sustainable Communities Fund will open in August 2024.  

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