Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust was successful in securing a Design Grant to investigate the possibility of developing this site by providing facilities for campervans and motorhomes
There has been a lot of publicity recently about irresponsible tourism and unacceptable behaviour by visitors since lockdown was lifted in July. This has impacted on all the communities across the Highlands and Islands.
The public toilets and parking site at South Bonar have been used for free camping for many years now, this has obviously increased over recent weeks, which has created understandable anxiety within the community.
The plan is for the Trust to develop paid facilities for visitors while reducing issues such as waste and impacts on parking
Therefore, KoSDT thought it would be useful for us to provide a bit of context around some plans that the Trust has to secure the future of the site as a community asset.
In February of this year the Trust was successful in securing a Design Grant of £5,000 from the VisitScotland Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) to investigate the possibility of developing the site by providing facilities for visitors who choose to come to the area in campervans and motorhomes. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we were not able to develop the plan as quickly as anticipated but we are now able to progress with the project and will have site reports in place by the end of the month.
The plan is for the Trust to develop paid facilities for visitors at the site whilst at the same time reducing issues such as increased waste and impacts on parking and pressures on local services. The site is currently owned by The Highland Council, so the Trust has opened discussions with them about transferring ownership of the asset to the community via the Trust. The real benefit of the project is that we can retain our local public toilets, in community hands, without fear of closure. We hope it will also create income for The Hub and our local shops.
The plan for the site would include providing electric hook-up points for motor homes and campervans and a new service block with showers, a covered eating area, waste disposal facilities, e-bike charging points etc. This would be developed adjacent to the existing public toilet facilities which would be refurbished and improved. The site would be controlled by a barrier system so that the toilet block was available free of charge to visitors and the public, but payment would be required to access the camping facilities. This would secure the public toilets in community hands whilst also developing an income stream to pay for repairs and maintenance.
Our plan will be submitted to Highland Council in early October and if it is accepted we will then be able to apply for the funding to undertake the development. We will keep the community informed of any progress and if anyone wishes to speak to us about our plans then please feel free to get in touch, firstname.lastname@example.org or 01863 766190.