Boost for St Kilda visitor centre plans


21 November 2013
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imports_CESC_0-pjjsfnn5-100000_58237.jpg Boost for St Kilda visitor centre plans
Plans to establish a St Kilda visitor centre on the Isle of Lewis have received a welcome boost. ...
Plans to establish a St Kilda visitor centre on the Isle of Lewis have received a welcome boost with the acquisition of land required for the project, and the positive conclusions of a consultants' report on how the project can be delivered.

The St Kilda Centre (Ionad Hiort) has been gifted a 'spectacular' clifftop site in the Uig area of Lewis by the landowners of the Geodha Sgoilt site, Uig and Hamnaway Estate. The estate principal, Sir Peter Cresswell, has previously indicated full support for the project and detailed discussions  between solicitors for both parties, which have been going on for some time, have now been concluded satisfactorily. Subject to agreement with Mangersta Common Grazings Committee, an outline planning application will be submitted in the near future.

The St Kilda archipelago is a World Heritage site situated forty miles north-west of North Uist. It is cared for by National Trust for Scotland and holds joint World Heritage status for its 'natural and cultural qualities'. The last islanders left St Kilda at their own request in 1930 after their community was severely depleted in World War One, followed by a series of crop failures.

A CRUCIAL YEAR FOR THE ST KILDA PROJECT

Iain Buchanan, chairman of Ionad Hiort, spoke of his hopes for what the project can achieve in the coming year: 'We have always known it would be a long haul to bring Ionad Hiort to fruition and believe its potential significance not just for Uig but the whole of the Western Isles will ultimately justify the effort. We are now seeing clear confirmation that others share our belief in the project and its transformational role.

'A great deal of valuable work has been done to develop the concept of the centre, in parallel with the formalities involved in getting to this stage. We now see 2014 as a crucial year for bringing everyone together in support of what they all recognise as an iconic project of local, national and international significance.'

Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage are reported to have 'engaged positively' with the project, which would be a remote access to the World Heritage site of St Kilda, which is uninhabited apart from the presence of work parties.

WORLD HERITAGE TOURISM

Andrew Ormston of Drew Wylie Ltd has been chosen as the project consultant and has provided a project report, which will now be presented to potential funders. He said: 'This is a really interesting project. Translating the most challenging strands, including World Heritage Site high value tourism, into tangible business propositions will create a unique opportunity to pioneer cutting-edge approaches and technologies. It is clear that the skills and enthusiasm exist locally to support that work.'

For the latest updates on the project, visit the Ionad Hiort development group website.

ST KILDA IN HISTORY SCOTLAND MAGAZINE

For more on St Kilda, see the January/February issue of History Scotland magazine where we explore how the island was defended in World War One and take a look at a bizarre religious cult established on the island in the 17th century. Order your copy now.
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