Helmsdale & District Development Trust


Helmsdale & District Development Trust

Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT) began life as a group of local residents united by the ambition to reverse the trend of decline which has been steadily eating away at the resources of this area over the past decades.

As a result of an extensive preliminary consultation carried out among the community, certain priorities were identified, and in order that these might be addressed effectively, the group proceeded to become a legally constituted development trust with charitable status, in 2012.

Directors of HDDT:

The business of the Trust is now managed by an elected board of 7 directors, including a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer, all of whom are local residents, and give of their time to the Trust on a voluntary basis.

Rona Ellis (Chairperson)

Ruth Whittaker (Vice-Chairperson)

Karen Sutherland (Treasurer)

Jean Sargent (Secretary)

Barbara Jappy

Grace Maxwell

Garry MacMillan

If  you would like to know more, please contact our Local Development Officer, Mary Stewart at Community Centre, Dunrobin Street, Helmsdale, Sutherland, KW8 6JA , Scotland.  01431821141

The issues that face Helmsdale District:

Sutherland is one of the largest, but least populated areas in the whole of Europe. The county’s population is approximately 13,000 and the population of Helmsdale District is 838, which is only 6.5% of the total. The population is in decline and there is a high dependency on facilities and employment outwith the area. A key area of concern is the low proportion of young adults and families, which although a Highland wide issue, is particularly pronounced in Sutherland. The 16-24 age group, for example, represents only 7.3% of the population here compared to 9.3% of the Highland population as a whole. Many move out of the area to pursue Further and Higher Education and Training, or to take up employment elsewhere. It is therefore important that this plan helps to sustain the existing communities by encouraging new employment opportunities, better facilities and the provision of more housing.  A recent survey conducted by HIE in the community confirmed that these issues are a priority for our community with jobs, housing and activities for teenagers being the key areas we need to address. There is a very demanding task ahead of us, but the alternative is to do nothing and allow the decline to continue. This is not a situation that  HDDT are prepared to contemplate as we believe Helmsdale deserves better.

Local Development Officer

Mary Stewart was appointed as the Local Development Officer in November 2017 and has been tasked with taking  forward projects meeting the aims of the Development Plan, to enhance the economic, social and cultural life of the community.  

Our Key Aims

To develop a diverse and robust economy in the Helmsdale District that will meet the need and inspirations of the Community. To work with the community to improve access to services, economic and cultural, that will reverse population decline and enhance the quality of life. To protect and develop the environment of Helmsdale & District, ensuring the sustainable use of its resources. To improve services for young people, ensuring they have access to activities and skills building opportunities in the area.

Development Priorities - Our Vision

Helmsdale & District Development Trust brings together all local organisations, groups and businesses to jointly create an economically prosperous and culturally rich Community for the benefit of everyone


  • Increase the availability of rented accommodation
  • Develop housing to meet the needs of the Community


  • Organise an economic impact survey for the local fishing industry & harbour feasibility.
  • Research and pursue options for the Petrol Station.
  • Develop new business units and support new business start-ups.
  • Encourage skills development and use of existing skills in different ways.
  • Recognise and promote crofting and fishing .


  • Lobby for an improved Community Broadband Package.
  • Explore transport options for the elderly and infirm.
  • Act in the Community’s interest over land buy out opportunities.
  • Consider assisted living technologies such as‘Telecare’


  • Create a network of footpaths for recreation linking sites of interest and natural beauty.
  • Investigate and develop a potential touring/camping park area.
  • Improve and implement signage throughout the Community and wider area.
  • Investigate the potential for a community events programme for Helmsdale.
  • Develop a Helmsdale marketing strategy.
  • Support projects which culturally enrich Community life and identity.
  • Support the re-development of the Railway Station Building.


  • Work with Youth Group Co-ordinators to improve current facilities.
  • Investigate and implement new interest groups - young film & music.
  • Research and set-up a youth exchange programme.
  • Implement work experience opportunities with a skills development agency.
  • Develop new training initiatives.


  • Set up and develop Community composting facilities,poly-tunnels, improved recycling facilities and environmental projects, create a garden partnering service.
  • Research renewable energy options & encourage production of all forms of renewable energy for local use and export.

These are just some of the areas we are looking to address. This plan is a working document and we aim to meet as many of your aims for the Helmsdale & District as possible. Please do not hesitate in letting us know your priorities for development.



FULLY SERVICED PLOTS - ROCKVIEW PLACE , HELMSDALE   The Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT)is inviting 'notes of interest’ regarding the sale of the 3 x Self Build, fully serviced plots(Water, Sewage and Electrical)at Rockview Place, Helmsdale.  The plots have outline Planning Permission and offers over £32,000 per plot are expected. All Applicants considered.


The Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT)is inviting 'notes of interest’ regarding the sale of the 3 x Self Build, fully serviced plots(Water, Sewage and Electrical)at Rockview Place, Helmsdale.

The plots have outline Planning Permission and offers over £32,000 per plot are expected. All Applicants considered.

Short Term financial assistance may be available for some

A short window of opportunity to have your home built for you

Save money on build costs, if you can do some or all of the build yourself

Centrally located next to services and facilities

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to build a new home in a great location.

To register your interest, call 01431 821141 or email ldo@hddt.org

Making affordable rural homes a reality!



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