ACHIEVEMENT AND PERFORMANCE
During the year covered by this report the company, in order to create a phased approach, distilled the original Masterplans to reduce both the scale and cost of the original Ionad Hiort/St Kilda Centre concept, in its first phase. This reflects recognition of the public funding climate which now exists and the particular challenges of developing a major capital project in an ultra-peripheral area. A new Prospectus was produced by the Board outlining a phased approach to the development which will seek to demonstrate, at every stage, its sustainability.
This phased strategy has been endorsed by the Board, based upon proposals agreed by the board and commissioned from Dualchas, architects. The first phase envisages costs of around £2 million. This is broken down into a number of component parts, i.e. interpretative and facilities centre, cliff-top walkway and viewing platform, refurbishment of existing buildings, nature trail paths network, road access, car parking. We believe that, on this basis, there is a reasonable prospect of progress over the coming months.
Over the period we have also made considerable progress in strengthening governance, to support the work of the Board
The Advisory Board of Ionad Hiort/St Kilda Centre, chaired by Lord Andrew Dunlop, includes people with relevant professional skills and experience and includes figures of national and international standing in various fields.
We have access to legal and accountancy advice which supports our governance.
We have Memorandums of Understanding with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and with the Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (CDDV)
We have raised significant funds as well as being in receipt of occasional funding from HIE to finance publications and the engagement of consultants. All of this has been handled to the entire satisfaction of HIE.
As well as the MoU, we are in an account management relationship with HIE who are supporting our ambitions for community growth and have been critical to our early development work. Iain MacLeod CNES Development officer also assists and advises the board, reflecting the continuing support of the Council. We have had a number of meetings with relevant funding bodies and discussions with Lord Ian Duncan from the Scotland Office regarding the Islands Deal. The board also keep the Scottish Government informed of progress through the local MSP. We initiated discussions with other island groups to develop the concept of Slighe Hiort, an outline of which was submitted to CNES for inclusion in their capital funding programme. The Board is now actively pursuing funding sources to finance the various stages of the Phase One developments as well as funding to employ project management staff to progress the development.
To continue with the activities outlined above To aim for work starting on the site by Spring 2019 To employ a Project Manager To formalise a succession plan for the Ionad Hiort Board To progress the next stages of the St Kilda Centre Project To continue to develop the concept of a St Kilda Hebridean Trail /Slighe Hiort
This continues to be a long and painstaking process. Quite simply, the challenge of creating a major centre in an ultra-peripheral area of Scotland is even greater than was ever envisaged at the outset when, it should be remembered, we participated in a competition which had the backing of four public bodies as well as the National Trust for Scotland. We have long since accepted that the origins of the project were not going to be translated into any fast-track towards its delivery.
Nonetheless, we have stuck with it and can now see a clear if cautious route ahead. We hope that all who wish this project well will stay the course, and remain mindful of the factors which motivated it in the first place – respect for the St Kildan story and people, and the economic regeneration of our own fragile community.