August 2016 project update

Another busy summer season has passed at the Calanais Visitor Centre and amidst all the visitors, the Redevelopment Project has been progressing quietly in the background.

Following our community information session (details can be found in our last blog update), we were busy working with the Design Team to finalise details of the design and cost summary to ensure that we were ready to proceed with funding applications.


The end of 2015 and first part of 2016 was spent focusing on our funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, as they will hopefully be one of the major funders for the project. The HLF team was very helpful and provided us with useful advice and guidance to best prepare our application. When applying for funding to the HLF, applications are broken down into a two stage process. The stage 1 application was submitted at the beginning of March, with a decision announced in June. Unfortunately, our application was unsuccessful. Despite not proceeding to Stage 2, we were provided with feedback and encouraged to develop our application further to resubmit for stage 1. We recently met with Caroline Clark, Casework Manager for HLF, who was visiting Lewis for a few days and discussed our application with her in detail. The meeting was very helpful and the advice we received will be used to develop our application further.

As well as focusing on the funding application with HLF, early 2016 was spent concentrating on an application to the Community Capital Grant Fund with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES). We received word in April that our application was successful, securing £100,000 for the project.

We then, with CnES Economic Development staff, turned our attention to developing a stage 1 funding application for the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. The application is still in the process of being reviewed and successful applications will be announced shortly. If our application is successful, we will then develop a stage 2 application ready for submission in October.

Another key stakeholder for the project will be the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). We have been working closely with the HIE team in Stornoway over the last few months to develop our project business case which will be fed into our funding application. We hope to have the business case finalised soon so that we can submit our application within the next few weeks.

In terms of European funding, CnES Economic Development staff worked with us to develop a stage 1 funding application for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Our stage 1 application was submitted last week and they will be announcing successful applications to proceed to stage 2 within the next week or so.


Carloway Show Feedback Session

As well as focusing on funding applications, another aim for our project is to ensure that the project proposals are built around feedback provided by the members of the local community and visitors. As well as our community information session, we compiled a short survey to generate feedback about what people would like to see included in the redeveloped Visitor Centre.

                      Sally Reynolds (Carloway Estate Trust) and Anna MacKay (Urras nan Tursachan) discussing plans at the Carloway Show.                                                                                                                                                                                  Images courtesy of Dòmhnall Macleòid


We recently took the opportunity to gather feedback by setting up a station at the Carloway Show, with thanks to the Carloway Estate Trust who kindly let us share their office to do it. Plans of the proposed design were on display and Anna was there to hand out surveys and answer any questions about the proposals. The feedback generated was greatly appreciated and very useful in terms of developing the project. The survey is now available online (by clicking the link below) for anyone who would like to contribute their ideas for the future Visitor Centre. We would love to hear them!

As for the next few months ahead, we will be concentrating most of our time on securing funding and continuing to develop proposals. If you would like to contribute any ideas on which activities, facilities or services you would like to see included in the development, please feel free to contact us by email (, or by completing the short survey below.

Project Feedback Survey



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Calanais Redevelopment Project update, August 2015

UntitledA few months have passed since our last blog post, and in that time, the project has progressed to a stage where we now have a final proposed design for the extension to the Calanais Visitor Centre.

Last Saturday, 22 August, we held an information session for members of the local community to drop by and see our plans. The lead architect of our project, Ian Alexander, Sinéad McGhee from JM Architects and Urras nan Tursachan board directors were there to answer any questions regarding the proposals.

We were very pleased with the turnout, with an estimated 40 – 50 people coming to see what the new Calanais Visitor Centre will look like.  The feedback we received from those who attended was generally very positive, so those of us at the CVC and the architects themselves were pleased with the outcome of the day. Many thanks again to everyone who came along.

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Of course, there may be some people who wanted to attend the information session but did not manage to. For those of you who could not attend, the proposed plans can be seen here on our blog. The presentation boards that JM Architects compiled for the information session can be accessed by clicking on the ‘Community Information Boards’ link below.

The presentation guides you through the design process, explaining the concept behind the design and the analysis carried out on the site, all the way through to the final proposed design. The upgraded Calanais Visitor Centre will include a larger shop, cafe, kitchen and interpretation area. As well as the main interpretation area, there will be information and interpretation spread throughout the centre, ensuring that the Story of the Stones and the wider landscape resonates all the way through the building. There will also be some amendments to the car park layout to incorporate additional parking bays, including four disabled parking bays.

Funding is yet to be secured for the project, and will be our priority over the next few months.  All being well, we will be able to update you again on our progress in a few months time. In the meantime, should you have any comments or queries regarding the project, feel free to contact us (contact details can be found on our website:

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Calanais Visitor Centre Redevelopment Project: The story so far….


Hello there and welcome to our blog!

You may or may not be familiar with the Callanish Visitor Centre already (pictured above). If not and you would like more information, feel free to go to our website at This blog has been set up with the aim of keeping people updated with the Redevelopment Project of the Calanais Visitor Centre as it progresses.

The Calanais Visitor Centre opened 19 years ago and the building has served its purpose very well throughout the years, however it has become apparent in recent years that there is a need for an extension. The visitor numbers have grown very rapidly recently, from 14,000 in 2008 to over 41,000 in 2013 – a record number since the Centre opened. This year was no different and has beaten last year’s record as it currently stands at over 42,000 visitors!

There has also been an increase in the number of cruise ships now visiting the Isle of Lewis during the summer months, and we are kept busy over the summer receiving many cruise ship groups here at the Centre.

However, as a result of such a high volume of visitors coming to Centre, particularly in the summer season, the Centre and the staff sometimes struggle at peak times to accommodate them. For this reason, Urras nan Tursachan (the Standing Stones Trust) decided that an extension would be required in order to better cope with such a high number of visitors. The aim of the extension project is to expand the size of the cafe, shop and interpretation area. Another main aim of the project is to redesign and upgrade the interpretation area. The initial interpretation has served its purpose well but is now outdated and beginning to look tired. We are hoping to make use of modern technology, with a new design and layout in order to provide our visitors with an excellent source of information on the Story of the Stones.

The development need was also brought to the attention of staff and directors by community consultation. In February 2008 a ‘have your say day’ consultation was carried out in the local community, facilitated by the Local Council and the main issues raised by the local community were the development of Calanais Farm and more local job opportunities. A further consultation in 2010 by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar found the same key objectives. In September 2012 our own consultation in the local community returned feedback which was positive to the development plans.

Urras nan Tursachan, decided to hire David Macdonald as a Graduate Project Manager in August 2013. David got the extension project up and running, securing funding for a feasibility study – with thanks to Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Big Lottery: Investing in Ideas funding- and appointing a design team.  Since August, David left his post to pursue studies in Edinburgh, and Anna MacKay was hired as Graduate Development Officer to continue with the project. Both job posts were part of the ScotGrad Graduate Placement Programme and have been part funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

A company called JMArchitects were hired as the design team and we have had several meetings with them in order to produce a design for the extension.  We are currently awaiting design options and should hopefully have a preferred design option early next year. As part of the design team, a company called Bright3D will be producing a new design for the interpretation area, and we are very excited to see what they come up with.

To help finance the next stage of the project, we will be submitting an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) once a design option has been chosen.  This application will include planning what the extension will include, look like and what activities the Centre will provide for visitors and the local community. In addition to this, we will also be applying to other funding bodies, as well as contributing some money from our own savings.

Over the next few months, we will try and update the blog as often as possible with pictures and plans of the extension as the project progresses to keep you in the loop.funding