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New plan to convert former Black Isle school to respite centre for families with ill children

By Neil MacPhail

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Raddery House.
Raddery House.

Plans have been revealed to transform a disused Black Isle school into free respite holiday accommodation for families with children with cancer and life-shortening illnesses.

A new company also wishes to develop the buildings and 7-acre grounds round historic Raddery House near Fortrose into a “vibrant community hub” and preserve adjoining 20-acre Raddery Woods for the community.

Raddery House Ltd (RDL) has applied to the owners Highland Council for the community asset transfer of the Raddery House Campus and woods after the site was put on the market.

RHL says it has support in the Raddery community, the Black Isle and stakeholder organisations.

It intends to convert the lower floor of Raddery House into three self-contained units to provide high quality respite accommodation.

The plan states: “Aware of the economic as well as the social and emotional impact that the serious illness of a child can have on families, the respite holiday accommodation at Raddery House will be offered free of charge with the costs met via RHL’s fundraising and trading activities.”

The intention is provide a “supportive space for families to have good times together, to make memories”.

It states: “The campus will provide a base for a wide range of projects and activities delivered by RHL and community partner organisations, services that address the health and social needs of local people, from young carers to those suffering from dementia.

“In addition, it will provide office accommodation and co-working space for local businesses and freelancers and a venue for local events.

“Activities and projects will provide employment and volunteering opportunities for local people and the site’s amenities and facilities will be available to local people and community groups, creating a ripple effect of community benefit.”

There are eight directors with professional backgrounds including architecture, business, project and third sector management, holiday letting management, and catering.

RHL said it has researched how quite hefty costs can be met. “Work will begin with the buildings that can be put quickly to work in service of the group’s projects and activities, and a focus fundraising campaign begun to raise the funds stage by stage for the remainder of the development.

“The company’s income-generation plans to support the operational costs of the campus and its long-term financial sustainability are an integral part of the development plans proposed and include holiday cottages for commercial let and a café and shop.”

The business plan concludes: “The directors hope the report makes the case that the Raddery House Campus and Woods have the makings of a significant community asset, and for the multiple benefits that the proposed development of the Raddery House Campus will bring to the Black Isle.

“The plans are undeniably ambitious, but the directors believe that the risks involved can be managed and that the community benefits arising will be hugely significant for the Black Isle.

“The spaciousness and scale of the project offers a level of future-proofing that will enable the development of projects and services beyond those currently envisaged. Further developments will not be curtailed owing to lack of space.

“This is another reason – among many – why Raddery House Campus and Raddery Woods should not be lost to the community of the Black Isle.”

Raddery House dates back to the 1800s, and the site includes a sports hall, two classroom blocks, a workshop, two cottages, and a stable block, all in varying states of repair.

An objection to some aspects of the RHL plan has been lodged by a local couple, Brendan and Rebecca Rawlinson.

They made an offer to Highland Council for Raddery Woods with plans to make a community woodland, but later withdrew their bid frustrated by parts of the process as they tried to move forward.

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