Highlands & Islands

St Kilda centre to be built in phases on Isle of Lewis

Proposed site on Lewis Image copyright BBC Alba
Image caption The proposed site for the visitor attraction is on the Isle of Lewis

A visitor centre dedicated to the remote St Kilda archipelago is to be built in phases.

A Chiad Cheum is to be constructed at Uig on Lewis, about 41 miles (66km) east of the protected Unesco World Heritage site.

The project led by Ionad Hiort Ltd (The St Kilda Centre company) has involved 10 years of planning so far.

The first phase will cost £2m with funding then to be sought for further phases at a total cost of £5.5m.

Award-winning Norwegian architect Reiulf Ramstad has been working with Skye and Glasgow-based architects Dualchas on the designs.

Image copyright BBC Alba
Image caption Islanders of St Kilda in an image taken by Scottish photographer Washington Wilson

Building on St Kilda's main island, Hirta, was ruled out because bad weather can restrict access to the small group of isles.

St Kilda is also a protected by internationally-recognised designations.

Islanders abandoned the archipelago in 1930, and today Hirta is only occupied for a few months of the year by National Trust for Scotland staff and volunteers, scientists and Ministry of Defence contractors who operate a rocket testing radar.

Image copyright Reiulf Ramstad/Dualchas
Image caption A concept design for the new visitor centre

The small group of islands can be seen on clear days from the proposed visitor centre site on Lewis.

Iain Buchanan, chairman and director of Ionad Hiort Ltd, said: "Like many in the district of Uig I'd like to see an ambitious and bold development plan that can shape the next generation's future.

"I believe passionately in the concept designs for the St Kilda Centre, but I also realise this project was never going to be straightforward."

A documentary about the project is to be shown on BBC Alba on 3 March at 21:00 and will also be available on the BBC Alba iPlayer.

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