Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn has confirmed that detailed planning of a replacement business centre at South Galson is underway. A Highland-based architectural practice has been appointed to lead the process.

Following a highly competitive tendering process, CH Architecture has been appointed as the architect to design and oversee construction of the new business centre.

Urras Chair Agnes Rennie said “We are pleased to have concluded key negotiations with our insurance provider which has enabled us to proceed to the design and construction processes. The appointment of CH Architecture marks a major milestone in Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn moving back to South Galson and we look forward to working with our newly appointed construction professionals in the months ahead to develop our proposals. We are grateful to Highlands and Islands Enterprise for its support with temporary premises at South Dell in the meantime.”

Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn hopes that construction works could be underway during spring or summer 2020 and it will be in a position to relocate to its new premises by the end of next year, but recognises that there is a significant amount of work required to achieve that timeframe.

Catriona Hill, director of CH Architecture, said “We are delighted to have been successful with our bid and look forward to working with Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn on this exciting project. We bring significant community experience with us and are confident that the requirements of the client can be successfully delivered in a creative manner.”

Key requirements of the new business centre are expected to be open plan office, conference/meeting and exhibition facilities. The Urras will also be looking at opportunities for making use of undeveloped parts of the site to meet its strategic objectives.

CH Architecture Ltd was set up in 2014 by Architect Catriona Hill and is based in Ardgay in Sutherland. It has rapidly accumulated a portfolio of successful projects, many of which have been for community groups and voluntary organisations. Most recently, the practice has completed the Ardgay Regeneration project and the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre. Prior to that it assisted Dornoch Golf Club, The Kyle of Sutherland Hub and The Ardgay Community Hall Committee. CH Architecture will be assisted by a team comprising WSD Cost Consultants and mechanical/electrical engineering practice CDMM, both from Inverness, plus Lewis-based Maciver Consultancy Services providing civil/structural engineering advice and Oberlanders bringing health and safety expertise.

The previous business centre was completed in November 2011 and provided office, archive and meeting facilities for Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn for over seven years. In the early hours of 15th February it was completed destroyed by fire, the cause of which is still unknown.