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Strathfillan Community Development Trust

Where is Strathfillan? In the centre, are the ruins of St Fillan's Priory; running beside these is the River Fillan, and parallel to that, the very busy road that joins tour two villages of Crianlarich and Tyndrum. So that neither village feels less important than the other, we want people locally, as well as more widely, to get to know the name Strathfillan. Since the Park's formation last summer, we are the north-west gateway community within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. We have a population of just less than 400 souls.

Most people pass through Strathfillan, but behind the, at times unattractive built environment, is a story of a community which has amazed and thrilled itself since we established our own Community Development Trust in 1997. This community-run organisation can legally own property, raise funds and so on, and since 1997, we have raised over £600 000 to fund projects like planting two community woodlands, building a Playpark, organising social events and evening classes and opening an office. Not to forget our Crianlarich Railway Houses Project, which was achieved with the help of the Charity Bank.

It's only four derelict ex British Rail houses, but it has meant that our community has seen their organisation buy them, local tradesmen renovate them, local people move in, and there's even been job creation….we have a local lady as Housing Officer who works at least an hour a week!

The Charity Bank lent us just what we needed, at a price that we could afford to repay, just when we needed it. Those of you that have worked for similar organisations, which have no money in the bank, and are developing a project that you have absolutely no experience in, will know that it involves travelling down two parallel roads at the same time. One, the technical side: things like completing a housing needs survey, doing homework on architects` drawings, costings, purchase negotiations; and the other road, that of finding the money to fund it. What you hope, is that both roads will meet up, at the end, at the same time! There are moments of great excitement, and great fear. Fear that even if the project is achievable, you're not going to find the money to make it happen. We managed to get 75% of our project costs in the form of grants: the Charity Bank felt able to give us the last piece of the funding jigsaw to make it all happen.

We had no track record in borrowing money as a Community Development Trust, and we had no experience of managing rented housing. The rents we would have had to charge to service the commercial loan we were offered would have been so high as to undermine the whole point of the project….that of Affordable housing.

The Charity Bank's loan was an interest only loan for four years to enable us to gain a track record of experience and actual cash flow figures to then negotiate the best possible capital and interest repayment deal.

The loan has actually helped Crianlarich to get a Nursery School. At a time that our Council had resources to run a nursery school, but no money to build one, we were able to provide a house for our retired Primary School Headteacher, thus freeing the Council owned School house for the Nursery. This is just the sort of incredible ripple effect that neither the Trust nor the Charity Bank could have envisaged when embarking on a community run housing project.

For further information, contact:
Sue Wylie
Development Manager
Strathfillan Community Development Trust
Tel: 01838 - 400545

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Company Registration No. 278156. Scottish Charity No. SC 029210