Official opening of Galson Estate Trust business centre
On Thursday 3rd March 2022, the board and staff of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust) welcomed Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, as principle guest at the official opening of its business centre in South Galson, Isle of Lewis.
Also present were the local councillors and representatives of partner agencies.
The opening forms part of a series of events planned across the year for Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn, commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the Galson Estate community buyout. At the event, Kate Forbes MSP, gave an address, as well as unveiling a special fifteenth anniversary tapestry commissioned for the year. The wall hanging has been designed and produced by local artist Alison Macleod who created the commemorative piece to replace her original artwork lost in the fire.
The official opening comes just over ten years after UOG took occupancy of the original business centre, which was sadly destroyed by fire in early 2019. By the beginning of 2020, designs for the replacement business centre on the same site had advanced to tender stage but, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the process was delayed. Eventually, CalMax Construction (Stornoway) emerged as the successful contractor. Works commenced in December 2020, with CalMax employing a variety of local and off-island sub-contractors as the project progressed, with handover of all facilities on the site achieved in December 2021. Oberlanders Architects, based in Ardgay in Sutherland, were responsible for the design of the building, and headed up a team including WSD Scotland, CDMM UK and Maciver Consultancy Services.
Although the new business centre is similar in size to the previous premises, there are some key changes. Principally, the layout of the new business centre has been remodelled, creating more flexible and open-plan accommodation. Another key change on-site was the addition of visitor facilities, including toilets, waste disposal facilities, and a small number of overnight motorhome bays for visitors to North Lewis. Originally envisaged as a later phase, the provision of grant funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprises for tourism infrastructure meant that these elements could be accelerated and incorporated within the current contract. The final cost of the business centre and visitor facilities sits at around £1m, including professional fees, fit-out and VAT.
Chair of Galson Estate Trust Agnes Rennie said:
“We were very pleased that Kate Forbes was able to join us today. This was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the last 15 years, not least that the Urras had shown such resilience in coping with the devastating fire and then this followed so soon by Covid 19 and the loss of income due to the SSE subcable failure." She went on to say “ Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn is part of a community which is rooted in its cultural heritage. That and the energy of a first-class staff team has allowed us to turn community wealth building into the reality with which we deliver our strategic goals”
Editor Notes 1. Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn is a community land trust responsible for managing the Galson Estate, Isle of Lewis, on the community’s behalf. For more information, please visit: www.galsontrust.com or email email@example.com