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By Hugh Boag
Nearly half of all the houses in Corrie are holiday homes, a new study by the Arran Civic Trust has revealed.
Of the 94 houses in Corrie, 44 are now holiday homes and with demand for houses on Arran at an all time high, as a result of the pandemic, it is helping keep house prices out of the reach of the local people looking to get on the property ladder.
In the nearby villages the situation is the same, with three of nine houses being holiday homes in the picturesque High Corrie – and one has lain empty for more than two years. In Sannox there are 10 holiday homes out of the 26 in the village.
According to the trust report: ‘Holiday homes present a problem for all rural and island communities, not so much because they exist, but because the number and proportion is increasing and is in danger of devastating local society when villages empty of locals and lose their sense of community.
‘Corrie certainly has not lost that but it is worrying that, from Corrie Hotel to Blackrock, which constitutes the centre of the old village, there are 33 houses, 25 of which are holiday homes.
‘Most of the hillside houses above the hotel are also holiday homes. About four of the total are holiday lets and therefore part of the tourism trade. It should be said, that some holiday home owners have an Arran history and are frequent and active participants in local life, but the trend is ominous and the pace quickening with an increasing rush to the countryside by the well-off.’
Of course, other Arran villages will be in a similar position but the situation in Corrie highlights what is an island-wide problem.
The report goes on: ‘The main Corrie village life has moved to the quarry where all 24 houses are occupied in Red Quarry Road but they are out of sight of the main village, which is regrettable, since it produces a marked separation between them and the rest of the village as it does also in Lamlash. Pirnmill successfully avoided this.
‘One possible answer to this would be for North Ayrshire Council and the Trust Housing Association to take an interest in buying village houses when they come up for sale and letting them to local people, since the island does have full employment with many able to afford a rent, though not a mortgage deposit.
‘It would require some local relaxation of the strict rules over fittings and fixtures in social housing and the authority would have valuable assets maintained by fair rents and be able to exercise choice in favour of locals.
‘Whatever happens we should be discussing this issue and looking for solutions,’ the trust report concludes.
Corrie and Sannox have a long history as holiday destinations. As steamer services improved in the late 19th and into the 20th century, the villages shared in the popularity of the island as a holiday resort, but with only one hotel in each village, most visitors took houses for a month – or even for the whole summer.
Almost all of the villagers let their homes, moving into smaller ‘summer houses’ built at the back. Some provided ‘attendance’, cooking the food provided by the visitors, others provided ‘full board’. Steamers anchored off Corrie and the visitors were ferried ashore in small boats to the Ferry Rock. Those with hampers or bicycles, or large pieces of luggage, had to disembark at Brodick Pier and arrange transport with Ribbeck’s wagonette.
Such was the attraction of Corrie and Sannox that the same families came back year after year and generation after generation still came, so that holiday time became almost a family reunion between visitors and residents, according to the History of the Villages of Arran produced the Arran Federation of the SWRI to commemorate its Golden Jubilee in 1975.
After the Second World War the first council houses were built in Corrie – just four at the southern end of the village at Hillfoot.
Twenty years later Corrie Terrace, which had been built for the sandstone quarry workers at the beginning of the century, was demolished and more council houses were built on the site – five family houses and four smaller ones.
‘Over the years, planning permission has been granted for some private bungalows in both Corrie and Sannox, but the character of the villages has remained essentially unchanged,’ the 1975 book stated.
That may have been true at the time but clearly the situation has changed in the 45 years since and, as the trust says, it has now become an issue which really needs to be properly addressed.
A view of Corrie looking south from the Sandstone Quay. 01_B45corrie01
Corrie looking south showing the first council houses built with High Corrie somewhere in the trees. 01_B45corrie02
The row of mainly holiday houses near the hotel. 01_B45corrie03
The most picturesque part of the village with the largely whitewash houses on one side of the road and the gardens on the other. 01_B45corrie04
Corrie looking south from the north end of the village. 01_B45corrie05
Corrie looking south from the harbour with some of the higher houses just visible. 01_B45corrie06
The former council houses of Corrie Terrace. 01_B45corrie07
The ‘hidden’ houses in Red Quarry Road. 01_B45corrie08