Highland Housing Alliance

Mixed-use Inverness city centre plans lodged

Capital Developments Ltd has submitted a planning application for a new residential and commercial development in Inverness in partnership with the Highland Housing Alliance and the Highland Council.

The development at 79 Academy Street will add to the regeneration of a gateway to the city centre to potentially deliver four commercial units on the ground floor with 40 affordable homes to rent for local people.

Under the plans, 17 flats will be allocated for mid-market rent by the Highland Housing Alliance and 23 flats to be allocated for rent by the council.

Highland Housing Alliance chief executive, Gail Matheson, said: “Today a planning application has been submitted to the Highland Council for a new mixed use development that will reinvigorate Academy Street, a historic gateway to the city centre. 79 Academy Street will be  a landmark development for the city of Inverness, comprising 40 new homes for rent further opening it up to  city centre living.

“The new scheme builds on the success of our 2016 Academy Street development that delivered 17 National Housing Trust homes along with 14 rented homes for the Highland Council. Four commercial units will potentially add new business opportunities and the regeneration of Academy Street. Subject to planning, we hope to start on-site in Spring 2018 with completion by Autumn 2019.”

Bill Nelson of Capital Developments said: “The building, previously tenanted by Farm Foods, has been unoccupied for quite some time and is no longer ‘fit for purpose’. Consequently, we are delighted to instruct our project architects NORR to submit a planning application to replace this building with a modern and attractive mixed use residential and retail scheme, that we believe will greatly enhance this part of Academy Street. If planning permission is granted we believe this significant investment will help revitalise the city centre.”

Councillor Allan Henderson, chair of the Highland Council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee, said: “This is good news for Inverness where there has been a shortage of affordable housing. The development is especially welcome given that it will contribute to regeneration of the city centre, providing new retail units on the ground floor as well as quality accommodation above.”

National Housing Trust initiative reaches 1,000 homes milestone

HHA new housing Craig Dunain

A completed home in the Westercraigs development

More than 1,000 affordable homes for rent with a total value of £146 million have now been delivered through the National Housing Trust initiative (NHT) over the last four years.

The milestone, which was reached with the completion of homes in Westercraigs, Inverness, means the scheme is on track to deliver more than 2,000 NHT homes in communities across Scotland. The delivery of these first 1,000 homes has also supported around 1,300 jobs.

The Scottish Government, working with the Scottish Futures Trust, developed the original NHT model for councils and developers.

Under the original version of the model, developers and local authorities jointly fund the purchase of newly-built homes, which are then made available for rent at below market rates for five to ten years before being sold, with tenants given priority to buy at the end of the rental period.

The money borrowed by councils to help fund the purchase of NHT homes in their areas is underwritten by the Scottish Government.

Announcing the news at MacKay Hannah’s Scotland’s Housing conference, housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “It is a remarkable achievement for all those involved that more than 1,000 NHT homes have now been completed across Scotland.

“By giving people the chance to have a good quality home at an affordable rent, this ground-breaking initiative is making a huge difference to people’s lives.

“NHT is providing affordable homes without the need for grant subsidy and is well on track to deliver over 2,000 new homes in communities across the country.

“The initiative is also boosting our construction sector and wider economy, helping to strengthen communities, promote social justice and tackle inequality.”

Gail Matheson, chief executive of the Highland Housing Alliance (HHA), which delivered the 1,000th NHT home, said: “The HHA has been delighted to have been involved with the National Housing Trust initiative. Since the introduction in 2011, we have built 135 homes with a further 17 due for completion shortly. The construction work has been a boost to the economic activity in the area and the homes have provided many people and families with a very real way of being able to become home owners.

“A deposit to support a mortgage is a requirement for lenders and NHT allows people to save for a mortgage whilst staying in the home that they will buy. The initiative has proved to be extremely popular and demand remains high for the flats and houses that we have built.”

Christa Reekie, commercial director at the Scottish Futures Trust, said the announcement illustrates the huge impact the programme is having on communities across Scotland.

She added: “Well over 1,000 people are now paying affordable rent for their homes as well as having lower fuel bills to pay as their homes are more energy efficient. Many small and local builders are also benefiting as construction of the homes has acted as a lifeline, helping them retain staff and secure funding for the opening up of new sites.”