Strengthening Communities on the Isle of Lewis
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Scottish Government’s quasi-autonomous development agency for these areas of Scotland, is charged with fostering an integrated approach towards economic and social sustainability in a region that covers more than half of Scotland’s land mass. As the name ‘Highlands and Islands Enterprise’ suggests, HIE is explicitly orientated towards supporting and promoting the development of a specific geographical area that has long been considered one of the most ‘deprived’ and ‘remote’ in Britain. It is HIE’s unusually place-specific mission, and its emphasis on addressing economic and social issues in a consolidated, joined-up fashion, that makes it a particularly interesting case to follow with respect to place-based policy-making aimed at addressing spatial inequalities in Scotland.
In this case study, it is considered how place-based interventions carried out under the remit of one of HIE’s core priority areas, Strengthening Communities, have tackled spatial inequalities on Lewis. The work organised under Strengthening Communities is designed to address local challenges and foster social and economic development in communities, particularly in HIE’s self-defined “fragile areas”. The case specifically focuses 1) on how HIE’s work under Strengthening Communities has facilitated community land buy-outs in a bid to promote greater spatial justice on Lewis and 2) on the nature and effects of HIE’s ongoing support for communities – and specifically for community trusts – in the aftermath of the buyouts.