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Applecross Community Land Use Plan

The Applecross peninsula is one of the most remote areas on the Scottish mainland. Twenty crofting township communities live dispersed over a large estate owned by a single owner, the Applecross Trust. Significant local housing needs have created a collaborative process engaging the community landowner, local authority, and public agencies to identify housing sites through a Community Land Use Plan.

In the past, the community and the Applecross Trust did not have a clear route for communications where everyone's views could be heard, leading to misconceptions and misunderstandings between the key players. Ground conditions, difficulties getting services and infrastructure in, and the amount of land under crofting tenure made it difficult to select suitable housing sites. The vast scale of the Local Development Plan area only has extremely broad place statements. Applecross therefore lacked a democratic process for selecting sites in a collaborative way.


The Applecross Community Forum has been established recently which has brought together key stakeholders to ‘improve both local responsiveness and collaborative problem solving.’ Members of the forum include the major landowners, community organisations, Highland Small Communities Housing Trust developers, the local authority, and a range of other statutory bodies.

The forum has provided the central discussion group needed to bring the key parties together in a neutral and independently chaired space with a remit to ‘promote affordable development for land and housing, employment and community uses for local residents and those wishing to make a long term contribution to the Applecross community.’ PAS (Planning Aid Scotland) were brought in to lead on the development of the Community Land Use Plan, endorsed by Highland Council as a material planning consideration.

Benefits and Lessons Learned

The Applecross case study reflects a point in time in an ongoing process. The ultimate success will come when the houses needed are built. But several of the lessons so far could be applied in other parts of rural Scotland. These include:

  • A fine-grained local housing survey to prove local housings needs
  • A neutral forum set up to improve communication between all parties
  •  Production of a Community Land Use Plan using independent facilitator, and its adoption as a Material Planning Consideration by Highland Council as a strong example of a Local Place Plan (LPP) approach. This could be a model for LPPs to meet identified local need elsewhere
  • Ability to attract funding and other in-kind help to support a resource-intensive process.

Find Out More

More detail about the challenges and positive outcomes from this project are included in more detail in the report 'The Role of Land in Enabling New Housing Supply in Rural Scotland.'