Community interest in Mission Hall

The Church of Scotland is disposing of the Mission Hall in North Kessock and interest has been expressed and acquiring the premises for ongoing use by the local community.

Mission Hall The community in North Kessock has been holding discussions relating to the prospect of acquiring the village mission hall in order to retain the facility for local purposes.

Over recent years there has been a history of groups who have already used the premises.  The premises have been used for Away Days, training and teaching sessions, band practices and similar activities, including use by the local history group.

Most recently, and since the decision by the Church of Scotland to dispose of the building, the local Community Council took the initiative in calling a meeting to explain the position regarding the sale of the premises and to establish whether there would indeed be a desire to acquire the hall for community purposes.

Owen Smith who chairs the Knockbain Community Council has - both before and since the meeting in early March - made contact with and gathered information from various local and public bodies who might be able to assist in a community buy-out. (Minutes available by clicking here.)

Owen has since reported:
"After listening to a 'progress' report and a discussion amongst those present, a resolution/ agreement was voted on (receiving unaminous support as far as I could see).a community  group should be considered and explored, but that further details regarding a purchase price and  the amount that would be required  if there were to be a lease by the Church of Scotland to a community group."
During the meeting it was reported that about five years ago a survey of the building  had given an estimate of between £30,000 and £45,000 for the work required and placed a value of £75,000 on the building as it was at that time.  It was also suggested that a lease of five years would be more realistic."

A further public meeting is scheduled for Friday, 21 March to discuss the prospect in more detail.
Mission Hall Facilities

Ground Floor facilities
downstairsThe ground floor has 'disabled-access' and the entrance hall and toilets leads in to the main hall which can accommodate 68 people in conference format and 30 seated around tables.
Immediately adjacent off the main room is a fully-equipped kitchen with sink, cooker and oven, microwave oven and hot-water boiler.

1st Floor facilities

The upstairs accommodation is split into two main areas joined by a small tea-station/kitchen (see pictures video below.) At one end of the building is a roomy and bright office with three desks/worktations and ample space for small informal meetings.

The other larger room can accomodate up to 60 people and again can be structed in a flexible fashion for a variety of different purposes. The room has a flip-chart easel and video facilities.
The first floor rooms have beautiful views over the Beauly Firth and the building itself overlooks the spot where dolphins are often seen.

The short video below was produced in 2011 when the local Church of Scotland congregation wanted to further advertise the hall for community use. Rev. Iain Ramsden (now retired) outlined the various features of the premises and the video includes shots taken during the weekly lunch club.
1st Floor Office                                          1st Floor Conference/Training Room


For progress report on prospect of community acquisition contact:
Mr. Owen Smith
Tel. 01463 731259 

For minutes of meeting on 4 March 2014 click here.
Mission Hall 

  A4 Flier

SAT NAVPost Code for SatNav -



Facilities in North Kessock village

Kessock frontage

Whilst some 'street parking is available at hall, as a former ferry terminal the village has a large public car park across from the Kessock Hotel. There is also The White Cottage Tea Room, a village Spar shop and a craft shop. All these facilities are within 300 yards of the Mission Hall.
Bed and Breakfast accommodation is available in the village also. There is an hourly bus service to Inverness during the day: less frequent at night.

Fuller information about the facilities in the village are available at the Undiscovered Scotland web site.

PLEASE NOTE: Site visitors can click on the'Add Your Response' button (below) to leave comments.

The Editor, 21/03/2014

Editor 21/03/2014 21:25
From: Community Ownership Support Services
To: Owen Smith
Date: 6 March 2014

Thanks for your time earlier. Below is a summary of our discussion and the links we discussed.

To be able to take ownership the group should have a robust governance model in place. If you wanted to take advantage of the Community Right to Buy legislation you would need to be a Company Limited by Guarantee. There are model memorandum and articles available from the Community Assets Branch to allow you to do this correctly.

Community Right to Buy and Assets Branch contact

The Church of Scotland are likely to put the property on the market and the community will need to bid along with other interested parties. However the decision is taken on different levels depending on the status of the bidder; private, public or community bodies.

Funders will expect you to be fully aware of what you are taking on and what benefits there will be for the community if you purchase the building. In the first instance you need finance to buy and refurbish the asbestos roof but there may be other renovations that are required and you will likely need a new survey done to update the one from a few years ago.

It is advisable to pick up the phone and speak to funders about your plans. They can help with information and support at a very early stage.

Big Lottery Fund

Heritage Lottery Fund

Coastal Communities Fund

Men's Shed -

The project is more about the impact if this meeting space is lost to the community. You can also promote that you will be increasing use if the community have control, but only if that is the case. You would need to develop a feasibility and business plan. This can be done by a group of volunteers with experience of business plans due to the fact the community have been managing the building already. However, as part of this case you need to show community support and that ownership will strengthen the community. You also need to take into consideration how you will build reserves for future maintenance as it is an old building.

You will gather more information as you speak to funders and other support organisations.

Take a look at our website to read about setting project objectives in the early stages.

I would suggest you write up a couple of pages up at this stage to help keep your project focused and provide something to people to explain what you are planning.
I hope this helps and is quite enough to look at for now. Please come back to me if you want to discuss any of these points.

Editor 21/03/2014 21:28
From: Highlands and Islands Enterprise
To: Owen Smith
Date: 17 March

The Community Right to Buy process that you refer to has to be carried out by a Company Limited by Guarantee - no other forms of organisation are eligible to make the registration. We have a set of model articles that have been developed specifically to comply with the Right to Buy legislation, to make it less onerous for new groups to establish appropriate governing documents, and these are attached. We may also be able to help with the legal fees and other costs of setting up a suitable organisation, if one does not already exist in the area.

As you are considering going down this route, which seems worth exploring given the response you've had from 121 George Street , I would suggest contacting the staff in the Community Right to Buy branch very soon, if you suspect that the building may be advertised for sale shortly. Good contacts are Colin Gray 0300 244 9817 / and Stuart Hartil 0300 244 6679 / and the central office email is It would probably be sensible to have this preparatory conversation before your meeting later on this week so that you are then able to discuss what is ahead.

One of the first things you would have to do is define the geographical extent of the community by postcode and demonstrate support from at least 10% of that community. This can be done by a fairly simple petition, but it's important to get the wording right along so they will be able to advise on this so that you can get started. Even if you choose not to go for CRtB, a petition of support will likely be useful in the future. They will also note the community's interest in the building - this is important should you end up making a Right to Buy application after the building is put on the market as it will help to strengthen your case for making what would be termed a 'late' application. Might not be necessary, but prudent to discuss with them at an early stage.
Editor 21/03/2014 21:29
From: Owen Smith
Date: 17 March 2014

The population of the Black Isle ward area is given by Highland Council as just under 10,000 (the max pop for community buyout). This would include some of our key people, but 10% of a public response would be difficult to find whereas 10% of about 1000 in the !V1 3X post code (North Kessock is realistically achievable.

The post code covers a wider North Kessock base than ward an community council areas which exclude area which consider themselves as a part of the North Kessock community.

Editor 21/03/2014 21:30
From: HIE
To: Owen Smith
Date: 17 March 2014

The majority of the board members should live within the defined geographic area - this is to ensure local community control. This is achieved, in these articles, by requiring that the majority of directors are elected, and that those elected are already ordinary members (section 32). Ordinary membership is only available to people residing within the defined area (section 8). Co-option or appointment of other directors from outwith the area is an option to bring in valuable experience or skills to the board.

Defining the area is a judgement call as to the area of likely benefit, and therefore likely support both for the initial 10% and for the ballot later on in the process (for which at least a 50% turnout is normally required). It sounds as though you have a good idea of this already, in terms of using the North Kessock postcode.

The mapping tool on the CRtB website can also be very helpful - - you could print out and enlarge copies for further discussion or refinement

Editor 28/03/2014 11:40
Owen Smith posts latest Minutes of Meeting held at N. Kessock Hall on Fri 21st March

Aim – To discuss future of the Mission Hall

Present Owen Smith (OS), Jill Tilford (JT) and 8 members of the community (list with OS)

OS opened the meeting and welcomed those present


OS expanded on emails sent to him and circulated to those attending previous meeting 1. From Diane Campbell-Advisor Community Ownership Support Services 2. From Sue Cooper – Highlands & Islands Enterprise

He emphasised that if we go down the ‘Community Right to Buy CRTB’ route we would have to be a PLC and could put a stay of 6 months on the hall being offered for open sale.
The boundaries of ‘the community’ would have to be ascertained, and there would have to be 5 people on the steering committee from a core of 24, and signatures of 10% of the community – about 120 people from the N. Kessock postal area.

OS reported on a phone call to CRTB-Colin Grey- who as well as explain the above also stated that they can pay for the valuation of the property.


A letter was read out from Ann Thomas (who sent her apologies for not being present)

a. Offering to be on the steering committee

b. Detailing renewables that could be used on the hall & would help to obtain grants.

c. Suggesting staff that would need to be employed to make the hall run smoothly

d. Using garden area as a community garden or allotments.

There was lengthy discussion on who would use the hall and would there be enough interest to make it a viable project.

There was unanimous agreement that the Mission Hall would fit in well with the existing establishments (N. Kessock Hall, the Free Church, the school hall) because of it’s differing size – 2 reasonable sized activity rooms and good size office – the expectation of a realistic rental because of low running costs – it would be an asset to the community.

Margaret Brown (N. Kessock Hall) discussed obtaining grants – they had received one from ’Awards for All’ but emphasised that it was a lot of work and you need good backing and support from other keen people.

The meeting discussed:

1.Who used the hall now and who might be interested in the future.

2.That survey and valuation need to be done ( photos were circulated of a survey done in 2010 showing ‘hidden problems’ like rotting roof timbers and damaged stonework).

3.How the pier group set themselves up and how their funding was obtained.

4.How a steering group could be formed.

Everyone present was asked if they would be prepared to sit on a steering committee. Tim Wickens (U3A bridge group) volunteered.

The steering groups role would be to find out if there was:

1. Enough community interest to proceed
2. Obtain surveys and valuation on the Mission Hall
3. Find sources of funding
4. Prepare a business plan to ascertain the viability of the project and present it to funding organisations.


1.Colin Wilson will be asked by OS to write an article in the press about the Mission Hall and the need for volunteers to form a steering group to assess the viability of the community purchasing the hall.

2. OS will phone round people at last meeting to ask if they would like to be on or know of someone who would be interested in being on the steering committee.

3.OS will put a circular round the new houses to invite new residents to become involved.

Next Meeting

Will be on Friday 11th April at 7pm in Committee room, N. Kessock Hall – it’s purpose to form a Steering Committee.
Owen Smith (Guest) 15/04/2014 11:11

As a result of the meeting on Friday 11th of April, we now have the bare bones of a working group /committee. They are looking for another two or three people to help. The church of Scotland official will be contacted on Monday 14th and told that an SCIO is being formed as an alternative to going down the Community Buyout route.

The suggestion was made to call the group NK Residents Association. If reversed , this is R.A.N.K.
I agree with the reasoning to make the group have as wide a remit as possible , but I am worried that the word residents gives a feel of restriction and exclusiveness.

Something with words like Community and meeting might fit the bill.(Meeting the Community in North Kessock)(M.C.N.K.)(McNorK)
We already have N.K.C.P. (the pier group)

At the meeting I said I would put together a list of possible users. It wasn't as easy as I thought.

Please comment an hopefully add by replying to this email -to everybody

Groups meeting in the Mission Hall (up to March 2014)

Bridge Club (current/fortnightly)

Soup and sandwich lunch club (current/ weekly Sept- April)

Disabled ramblers (Current-Monthly)

NK History society (Current-Monthly)

WI (Current)

Committee Meetings of Pier Group,
Occasional lets for birthday parties, anniversaries

Groups currently meeting in North Kessock who might prefer the Mission Hall

Breast feeding group

Carefree club

Groups meeting in North Kessock now ceased

Music group

Gaelic choir

Yoga (not able to use school so stopped)

Whist (monthly)
Gaelic classes
French conversation

Potential users

Drop in sessions (probably at set times); Coffee mornings


Skiff building (or other “Men’s shed”

Office space for Black Isle District Nurse team

Community IT/ office centre ( The new school had a remit to offer such facilities but it never materialised

Meeting room for people from different parts of the Highlands. North Kessock is more accessible than the centre of Inverness apart from people travelling up the Great Glen

Anne Thomas (Guest) 15/04/2014 11:12

I would add that Transition Black Isle has also used it for a one off two day cycle trainers course and various smaller meetings.

Other churches have used the facility for 'Away Days' and there would be a lot of scope for 'Away Days' or retreat type events.
The NHS is often looking for a venue for smaller meetings.

Editor 12/06/2014 12:06

The Church of Scotland's Property Sales Manager advises (3 June) that the Kessock Mission Hall has "now come on the market".

Anne T writes (5 June): "Dear All,

"The Church of Scotland have now put the Mission Hall on the market for a bit more than we were anticipating but still not a huge amount. See attached. It looks like the only way we can get enough time to pursue this is to go down the community right to buy route as otherwise it could just be snapped up from under our noses.
What do people think? Are you happy that the steering group goes ahead and pursues this option? I think we need to act quite quickly.
I have filled in the draft Steering Group Constitution sent to us by HIE as far as I am able. We now have 4 members but it looks like we are supposed to have 7 for the right to buy legislation so we need a few more people to come to meetings but not necessarily to do very much."

Elsie N writes (7 June):
"I am happy for the steering group to go ahead and pursue the right to buy route if that will save the day.

Otherwise by the time you are officially constituted and in a position to apply for funding – it certainly could be snapped up as it is a very attractive development opportunity."

John L (Guest) 12/06/2014 19:34
I have been following this with no small amount of interest, could someone tell me why this property is "a very attractive development opportunity"? No doubt it has lovely views, is an easy run into Inverness etc, but, looking at the particulars, there is not much land/garden, nor does there appear much parking. Obviously it would be a sad loss to the area if it were to be turned into another house, not that the CoS could care less.
Editor 30/07/2014 17:29
Updates from Anne Thomas (read from 'bottom up'.

I've now got most of the signatures. There are a few outside the postcode area (IV1 3) so although they show wider support they don't count in the percentage, so I have 120 ones I can count, so still need about 30 more. It looks like HISEZ have not been offered it otherwise I suspect they would have heard by now, so I am ploughing on with the application. The legal team have looked at the articles and the community right to buy branch are now going through them and will let me have them with recommendations by the end of the day.
I still need some more people to agree to be members. It does not commit you to any financial liability as that is why we are setting up the community company limited by guarantee structure. It will probably just require an AGM and the rest done mainly by emails.


On 25 July 2014 20:52, Anne Thomas wrote:
Dear All,
We now have 119 signatures including the ones at Joe and Kate's. I'm still waiting for the definitive answer about how many we need, but it looks like there are just under 1000 electors in IV1 3, so 15% would be 150. I will try to get the rest at the market tomorrow.
We still do not know whether HISEZ has had their offer accepted. They are going to ring me as soon as they know, so I suspect some committee is thinking about it. The majority seem to think that if HISEZ gets it the community should be able to work with them and make a deal about use of the hall and HISEZ have said they are happy to do this. However if they don't I will attempt to get the community right to buy registration in as soon as I can. This effectively blocks the sale for 6 months allowing time to apply for funding. I've done a lot of the form but still need to get the company set up as soon as the articles come back from their legal team and there are various other bits they've come back to me about. Please let me have your membership form if you are prepared to join and are around to fill it in as I need 20 names for the form. I will have some more forms at the market tomorrow.



On 23 July 2014 17:49, Anne Thomas wrote:
I'm attaching a membership form for the new Residents Association of North Kessock Community Company if we do go ahead with this. It looks uncertain that HISEZ will necessarily get it, so I want to be ready. I'm still waiting for the articles to be approved but we need 20 members. It's only £1 for life membership which will be returned if the company is not needed. Please print it out and fill in and return to me by Friday or drop in to Joe by then or scan and email it back if you have this facility. I'm still waiting for another couple of bits but have most of the application form complete.




On 21 July 2014 15:13, Anne Thomas wrote:
Dear All,

I'm just back from holiday and trying to catch up on this. Margaret spoke to me before she went away and she had had a chat with a guy from HISEZ ( They are hoping to buy the hall. I managed to ring him and have a chat. They are hoping to buy the hall as a training centre and office base but would not be using it all the time as most of them work from home or are running events elsewhere quite a lot of the time. They would be willing to come to an arrangement with the community for use of the hall and could see this working quite well. They were also thinking along the lines of having a hot desk office space which was one of the things we talked about for people who work from home who would like to be able to access certain facilities. They are a social enterprise and they have/ will have a clause that if the company ceases trading the assets will be transferred to a suitable other body which could be the community.
All in all it doesn't look too bad an outcome if this organisation does buy the hall and allow the community to use it and would certainly avoid a lot of fund raising work etc. However we do not know if anyone else is lurking in the wings wanting to put in an offer, so I think it would still be worth ploughing on with the application. We can put the final application in up to the day before missives are exchanged but I suspect there will need to be several drafts. We also need a proper company and I am still waiting for the articles to be approved for this. We need at least 200 signatures. I have 8 here. I will let you know when I need them but I will probably collect them up on Friday and then go round door knocking to see if I can get any more that might be needed. Please try to make sure people give post codes as well, as I think this may be a sticking point.

I would be interested in people's opinions as to whether we should try to proceed even if the HISEZ offer is accepted.



On 6 Jul 2014, at 00:10, Anne Thomas wrote:
Dear All,

I have now sent the articles of the new Residents Association of North Kessock Community Company (RANK) off to the Community Right to Buy team to be checked by their legal team. It's a bit of a weighty document which was completed using their template, but you get to the meaty bit in the middle, so please have a scan through and let me know if there is anything you disagree with. I'll attach a petition which needs to be signed by 15% of residents, which we calculate is about 200 people. We also need about 20 people to join the association but it is only £1 for life membership, so that should not break the bank!
Please can you print it out and see if you can get some of your neighbours to sign? Please return to either Owen or myself.




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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Archive > Around the Region > Wider News > Community interest in Mission Hall