Re-imagining Camanachd Square
Camanachd Square is the name given to the area around the Community Centre and nursery in the centre of Portree, two minutes’ walk from Somerled Square. It serves as a hub for sports, recreation and other activities. As well as the Community Centre there is the nursery, King George V Playing Fields, the former swimming pool site (now hardstanding), playpark, multi-use games area known as the Red Pitch, and car parking.
Many of the community facilities at Camanachd Square suffer from a lack of maintenance or investment. The Community Trust believes that complexities in land ownership and the absence of an overarching development plan for the area are partly the reason for the lack of maintenance and investment.
The Trust sees great potential in maximising the benefit of the lands and buildings for the community. With that in mind, the Trust commissioned local architecture firm Rural Design in early 2022 to explore future options. The aim was to explore how the area could be improved in the future, in order to help secure future investment and pave the way for community ownership and management.
The design team started work by talking to local organisations and community groups about their needs, and researching the site and buildings. Initial ideas were then shared for public consultation in August 2022. You can see those proposals here and watch a recording of a public webinar about them here. A big thank you to everyone who took the time to consider and comment on those initial proposals; your comments have helped to guide the work.
In June 2023, the design team published the completed options appraisal. It includes:
· Updated proposals for both the Community Centre and the surrounding outdoor spaces.
· A cost estimate for the improvements, which estimates the total project cost at £6.5 million excluding VAT.
· A 5 year business plan for operating costs and project income for the new development.
You can download the finished report here.
The report is the essential first step towards securing funding to acquire the site and bring the project to fruition. If that funding can be secured, more community engagement will take place to help work up the proposals in more detail.
The Trust is grateful to the Coastal Communities Fund for funding this work.