Kirknewton Community Council and the Development Trust have been working together on seeking funding and organising activities for senior citizens across the village. Much of it has been off social media, knocking on doors and word of mouth.
At the two enjoyable events at Dalmahoy and the local pub representatives from the Trust and Community Council took the opportunity to share plans for the proposed homes for the elderly and speak one to one with people.
It was good to listen to the challenges people face having to maintain family homes and having to move to smaller accommodation outwith the village and away from their friends and networks.
As some of you may know every five years the Trust undertakes a community consultation, regarded as one of the best in Scotland, to establish community needs. This allows us to establish the general view of the community and where to direct our resources / fundraising efforts. The need for housing was one of the issues that was raised and found itself in the Community Development Plan.
Although challenging for a volunteer led group the KCDT Board decided to pursue this goal as a major project. Not only was there a need but an opportunity to build quality affordable homes using building techniques we had learnt with the Green Room project. Along with the use of solar power there is an aspiration the homes will cost only £200 a year to heat and light, around the cost of the winter fuel allowance.
The project has been supported by East Calder architect Euan Robertson, Rural Housing Scotland Derek Logie, Horizon Housing Association and the local authority.
From the comments we received from over 50 people who have attended the senior citizen events the need is still there.
The homes will be built on land near the stones project at the end of the village improving an area which was untendered and inaccessible for several years.
An application has gone in to the Scottish Government Rural Housing Fund to help build seven single storey homes, and we hope to hear by June if successful. The remaining funds will be from a contribution from the Trust and private finance.
The homes have been designed for varying needs, including dementia, and it is hoped will exceed building standards and requirements for homes for the elderly. A planning application has gone in to West Lothian Council.
Although the land and homes will be owned by the Trust allocations and management of the rented homes will be by an external group with expertise in homes for the elderly.
Once built the homes can be used as an example for community members and other communities and Development Trusts to follow, as part of the Trusts education and skills programme. KCDT has advised on the setting up of Trusts across West Lothian. We helped to set up one of the first Community Trust networks in Scotland and meet regularly and share the challenges and best practice we all face. Housing is of particular interest to many Trusts.
The stones project is expected to be finished by late summer/early autumn 2019. If our grant and mortgage application is successful we will begin actioning the house build for completion in 2021.