Staffin Hall, Saturday: First Storr drop-in community event

STAFFIN residents are invited to attend a drop in community event this weekend hosted by the consultant team investigating potential improvements to the visitor site at the Old Man of Storr.

Staffin Community Trust (SCT) announced last month that a consortium led by Hazel Allen of Dingwall-based Athena Solutions, Richard Heggie of Urban Animation and Sam Foster Architects, were awarded the contract to carry out an Options Appraisal of Highland Council-owned land at the Storr. The team is now looking for input from local people as it sets about investigating all the options at the busy site, next to the A855 Staffin-Portree road.

Soaring numbers of visitors to the site in the last few years, thanks to the Storr’s international profile and heavy promotion via films, TV coverage and social media, has sparked significant concerns from local people about parking congestion, road safety and the absence of public toilets.

In recent weeks, as the summer season reaches its peak period, more than 100 cars have been parked at peak times on some days. These concerns were highlighted in a major community consultation SCT ran in November 2015. The consultants now want to pin down which of the cited issues are the most important and pressing. It will also be an opportunity to test some outline solutions for comment and provide Information about how other popular visitor sites have tackled similar problems.

The current Storr car park.

Current Storr car park.

Mr Heggie and Mr Foster will be in attendance at the event. It starts at 10am at Staffin Community Hall and runs until 3pm, on Saturday, July 30. SCT representatives will also be on hand to answer any questions. If anybody cannot attend on the day but wish to comment, please contact Hugh Ross at SCT.

The SCT views the Storr as a key gateway to Staffin and vital economic driver for shops, cafes, accommodation providers and other businesses. More than 100,000 people visited the Storr last year. Council-led traffic surveys have estimated that approximately 70 per cent of Storr visitors continue north on the A855 road to Staffin. SCT views the Storr as an opportunity for the local community to be involved in enhancing the current visitor experience, potentially create employment and market Staffin and local businesses far more strongly than at present. The project could involve a new off-road main car park, toilets, interpretation and refreshment kiosk/information point.

The options include a proposed buy-out of all the land owned by the council, a section of the ground or a lease/partnership arrangement. SCT is grateful to have received funding from the council’s Ward Discretionary Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Scottish Land Fund for the Options Appraisal.

The consultant team will present a detailed breakdown of the options to the SCT in September. The preferred option will be decided upon, and a Business Case will then be presented in October. Following that process, SCT will then look to take the Business Case to the council.