Potential costs for creating the centre are put at between £4 million and £6 million depending on size and content, and a hub and spoke model is recommended in order to maximise economic benefits for the whole of the Western Isles. Jura Consultants were appointed by a Working Party which included representation from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Proiseact nan Ealan, Visit Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland. After an intensive competition, they supported the choice of a cliff-top site at Mangurstadh in Uig for the Centre.
The report states: “This project has the opportunity to deliver a world leading Centre in connection with a Dual World Heritage Status Designated Site, which will attract international interest across everything that it does; including interpretation, research, teaching, events and activities.
“Excellence will be the aspiration for everything associated with the Centre…. The hub and spoke model will enable the St Kilda story to be presented across the Outer Hebrides in-situ in the most appropriate locations”.
The report recommends that the Uig group should engage with other stakeholders, including UNESCO, to form a Trust which would have responsibility for taking the project forward. The involvement of UNESCO, the consultants suggest, would open up funding routes “which may be less accessible without UNESCO involvement”.
The report then suggests that a sub-group of the new charitable trust should created “with representations from all organisations and communities which wish to be involved in the project as spokes or beneficiaries of the St Kilda Centre project … This will ensure that the benefits of the project are appropriately dispersed across the Outer Hebrides in a cohesive and comprehensive way”.
The chairman of Buidheann Leaschaidh Ionad Hiort, Iain Buchanan, said that they welcomed the consultants’ final report, their emphasis on excellence and the future steps that they proposed. Work aimed at involving all the key stakeholders in a Trust was already progressing, he said, and an advisory group is being formed to involve a wide range of expertise.
Mr Buchanan added: “This is a huge undertaking for a small community and we intend to be as inclusive as possible, both by securing expert advice from the outset and by involving other communities which can contribute to the overall success of the project. We have always said that this is an opportunity for the whole of the Western Isles”.