THERE was an encouraging local response to a Staffin Community Trust’s (SCT) consultation event which outlined the progress with the Old Man of Storr Project.
Around 30 people attended a drop-in event on November 5 – and also called in to the SCT office during the week afterwards, to view a summary of the options appraisal work carried out so far and a proposed site layout at the Highland Council-owned site at the Storr, which attracts thousands of people each year.
Increasing numbers of visitors to the site in the last few years have sparked significant concerns from the Staffin community about parking congestion, road safety and the absence of public toilets. These concerns were highlighted in a major community consultation SCT ran last winter.
Following discussions with the council at the start of the year, it was agreed that SCT would seek funding to carry out an options appraisal and investigate possible solutions to the issues at the site. That work has been carried out by a consultant team led by Dingwall-based Hazel Allen of Athena Solutions, Richard Heggie of Urban Animation and Sam Foster Architects.
The consultation event on November 5 allowed the consultant team and SCT representatives to provide information about their progress. An indicative site layout, which includes increased parking provision and public toilets was presented and was well received. The feedback from local residents was supportive.
All respondents felt satisfied with the idea of a new one-way route through the site, starting at the existing car park and coming out at the existing forestry track. Together with a series of small car-parking areas distributed between native woodland planting it was generally agreed that the visual impact of the proposals would not negatively affect the scenic quality of the area.
Respondents were keen to see improved road safety signage and showed broad support for re-using the recently tarred car-parking lay-by as coach parking for the increasing number of large and small buses that visit the Trotternish peninsula.
The idea of a series of elegant but simple structures (for toilets, interpretation and shelter) arranged around an open gathering space was well-received. The project team is now working on firming up the SCT’s preferred option at the site, and investigating the potential costs before a business plan can be drawn up. SCT will then hold further talks with the council before the end of the year.
SCT is grateful to have received funding from the council’s Eilean A Cheo Ward Discretionary Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Land Fund for the Options Appraisal.