After recent interest in the future of Acheninver hostel on the Ben More Coigach estate, the Trust wants to clarify its current position on the property. The hostel, which is a former croft house, is situated in the Coigach crofting community.
The Acheninver hostel had, until recently, been run by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA) but after a review of their national strategy, SYHA decided to terminate the lease arrangement with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The reason given to the Scottish Wildlife Trust was that SYHA considered the hostel unprofitable due to the ongoing repairs, upkeep and running costs being greater than the income from paying guests.
There are a number of possible options to secure the future of the hostel. Under the Community Right to Buy, the hostel could be purchased by the community and the Trust has offered the property to Coigach Community Development Company. However, they have been very successful in creating other community development opportunities and do not have the capacity to take the hostel on at the present time. The Trust has also explored selling the hostel with ‘conservation burdens’ which would mean it can only be used for activities that are of community benefit and can never enter the holiday home market.
Following a number of approaches in recent months from parties interested in exploring the idea of leasing the property from the Scottish Wildlife Trust with a view to running it as a viable business, a decision has been made to postpone putting the property up for sale ‘with burdens’ while we explored other options.
Reserve Manager for the Scottish Wildlife Trust in the Highlands and Islands, Mark Foxwell, said: “The former SYHA hostel is part of our Ben Mor Coigach estate where we have worked with the Coigach Community Development Company on a number of projects for the benefit of the community and environment.
“The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a founding partner in the Coigach – Assynt Living Landscape, a unique community partnership project, which aims to bring environmental and economic benefits to the Coigach and Assynt region of north west Scotland.
“It is one of Europe’s largest landscape-scale conservation and restoration projects. The Trust is very much keeping options open regarding the future of the former SYHA youth hostel in Acheninver and exploring ways for the building to become a resource for the community as part of our long-term commitment to the Coigach area.”