Homes for Scotland

Dundee City Council signs ‘forward thinking’ agreement with Homes for Scotland

Convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee Councillor Lynne Short (left) with Homes for Scotland chief executive Nicola Barclay

Dundee City Council has signed an agreement with industry body Homes for Scotland (HFS) aimed at ensuring the on-going delivery of the range of homes required to meet the needs of its population.

Building on the positive relationship between the council and the home building industry, the agreement signifies a commitment to further improve the way they work together to deliver more homes and increase the social and economic benefits for the city.

In addition to improving lines of communication between member companies and the council, HFS will encourage home builders to promote the wider community benefits that result from the developments they investment in, as well as the varied apprenticeships, skills and training opportunities that they create.

Reciprocally, the council will pursue positive interventions to identify, release and unlock land for housing. It will also look to attract funding to ensure that the delivery of the necessary infrastructure (such as roads, education and healthcare) is aligned.

Applauding the council’s forward-thinking approach to housing delivery, HFS chief executive, Nicola Barclay, said: “Dundee is one of the country’s most progressive local authorities when it comes to planning ahead for housing and infrastructure, and it has long recognised the wider benefits development offers in terms of regenerating and sustaining communities, supporting business and creating jobs. Through the enabling culture it demonstrates in this agreement, it is leading the way in how it chooses to positively collaborate with the companies who will deliver the homes needed by those who want to live in this unique and dynamic city.”

Councillor Lynne Short, convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, said: “It is vital that we ensure that the right mix of houses are built in the right place at the right time to meet the wide and varied demands of people who want to live in Dundee.

“Achieving that relies on co-operation and collaboration between all of the participants in the process and this agreement seeks to ensure that we are delivering high quality homes in sustainable locations.”

The agreement was signed at Springfield Properties’ Dykes of Gray village on the outskirts of the city. As well as providing 600 new homes, the new community will include shops, play areas, health facilities and business opportunities. With around 60 people working on site, the development also supports many local trades and suppliers, and will bring substantial investment in the area for many years to come.

Leith Fort in the running for three industry awards

The development of 94 affordable, colony-style homes contains 62 new homes for mid market rent by Port of Leith Housing Association’s subsidiary Persevere Developments and 32 homes for social rent by the City of Edinburgh Council.

An ambitious 94 affordable homes project, which is creating a new community at Edinburgh’s Leith Fort, has been shortlisted for a trio of awards.

The £11.5 million housing development which is co-owned by Port of Leith Housing Association (PoLHA) and the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) is in the running for the forthcoming RICS, RIAS and Homes for Scotland awards which will take place later this year.

The homes are built on the former 18th century Leith Fort site and welcomed residents last year.

Sixty two of the colony style properties are owned by PoLHA for mid-market rent, with 32 units owned by the CEC for social rent.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of Port of Leith Housing Association, said: “We’re thrilled to have helped to restore this area to its former glory and to have created a neighbourhood where people want to live and to set down their roots.

“We are very proud of this successful modern interpretation of the Edinburgh colonies which has brought much needed high quality, affordable housing for families in Leith and North Edinburgh.

We’re delighted it has been shortlisted for three industry awards, providing great recognition for us and our partners.”

The new properties have been modelled on the Edinburgh colonies concept and are a mix of one, two, three and four-bedroom homes.

A feature of this development is that all homes have access to private south west facing gardens.

The main contractor was CCG (Scotland) Ltd and the development was funded by PoLHA, CEC and the Scottish Government.

Cllr Kate Campbell, housing and economy convener, said: “The Council and Port of Leith set out to deliver modern, affordable homes on the historic Leith Fort site but the development has created so much more than housing.  It has community spirit right at its heart and it is great to see so many award nominations coming in.

“Our aim is to deliver 20,000 affordable and low cost homes in the next decade bringing prosperity to every person in every neighbourhood.”

Nicola McLachlan, project architect, Collective Architecture, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Port of Leith Housing Association, The City of Edinburgh Council and the local residents within Leith. The project heralds an exciting time in Leith’s rich history and plays an important role in stitching the Fort back into the community – both physically and socially – and encourages positive interaction between neighbours.

“It is wonderful to see that the residents are already making their own mark within the community and flourishing within their new homes.

“I am delighted to see how well the restrained palette of materials and careful detailing sits calmly within its context.  Everyone involved with the project has worked collaboratively with the client group to ensure these homes stand the test of time; their skills and experience shine through within the project.”

Builders welcome £100m Help to Buy extension

The Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme is to be extended beyond 2019 after the Scottish Government announced a further £100 million investment over two years.

The initiative, which helps people purchase a new-build home without the need for a large deposit, has supported more than 12,000 households into a new home since 2013.

Up to 4,000 more households will be given assistance due to the extension.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said a third of the new fund will be reserved for sales from SME builders.

Mr Stewart said: “Since we introduced Help to Buy, the scheme has not only helped thousands of buyers into new homes – it has supported around 9,000 jobs.

“A third of the annual £50m budget – £18m – will be reserved for sales from SME builders, who were particularly affected by the drop in development finance after the financial crisis.

“We know house builders still see Scotland as a place to continue to develop and invest, with the latest figures showing new house completions grew by 5% over the last year.

“Housing is about more than bricks and mortar – we want to provide safe, warm homes, help create a fairer Scotland, and preserve a diverse and more resilient construction sector.”

The news has been applauded by home builders who described it as good news for buyers and Scotland as a whole.

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, said: “This is great news on a number of different fronts as the Scottish Government clearly recognises the value and wide-ranging benefits that its Help to Buy initiative provides.

“By allocating further targeted funding until 2021, it is not only extending the opportunity of home ownership to more Scots who are currently saving to buy their own home but will also provide the much-needed confidence and certainty that housebuilding companies need to continue to invest and grow their businesses in Scotland. This positive message is fundamental to helping us work together to increase the supply of new housing.

“It is essential to remember that, as well as being directly responsible for additional new homes being built, Help to Buy is also relieving pressure on the public sector with earlier figures showing that around five per cent of purchasers have moved from social rented housing and a further five per cent were on a social housing waiting list.

“With Help to Buy providing an equity stake that is repayable to the Scottish Government, and with receipts received to date higher than projected, the scheme is already demonstrating its value as an effective housing policy driver for the delivery of new homes, enabling Scots to purchase a new-build home without the need for a large deposit, and with very little impact on the public purse.”

But Scottish Labour’s housing spokeswoman Pauline McNeill called for an urgent review of the scheme to establish if it is “fit for purpose”.

She said householders with incomes of more than £100,000 were getting help with a new home deposit and efforts must be directed to low income households.

Ms McNeil added: “We have seen instances in the past where households with incomes of more than £100,000 are getting help with a deposit for a home, which raises questions about whether the right people are benefitting from Help to Buy. The scheme must focus on those with lower incomes who just need a bit of help to own their first home.”

Homes for Scotland reveals 2018 awards shortlist

The Botanics by David Wilson Homes is nominated for Private Development of the Year – medium

The shortlist for Scotland’s premier home building industry awards has been announced as Homes for Scotland prepares to celebrate the sector’s successes at the largest annual gathering of its kind.

With entries showcasing the high quality work that the industry produces and the significant value it adds to Scotland’s social wellbeing and economic success, those companies achieving finalist places are:

Private Development of the Year – large (100+ units) sponsored by NHBC

  • Avant Homes Richmond Gate, Glasgow
  • Miller Homes Ashludie Grange, Monifieth
  • Stewart Milne Homes Regency Place, Aberdeen
  • Mactaggart & Mickel Homes Castle Grove, Newton Mearns
  • Miller Homes Varcity North, Edinburgh

Private Development of the Year – medium (26-99 units) sponsored by Allied Surveyors Scotland

  • CALA Homes (East) Liberton Grange, Edinburgh
  • David Wilson Homes (West) The Botanics, Glasgow
  • Stewart Milne Homes (Central) Calderwood, East Calder 
  • Cruden Homes (East) Hydro Gardens, Peebles
  • McCarthy & Stone Jameson Gate, Edinburgh

Private Development of the Year – small (up to 25 units) sponsored by Blackadders

  • A&J Stephen (Builders) Chapelton, Aberdeenshire
  • Mactaggart & Mickel Homes Red Lion, Newton Mearns
  • Dundas Estates Kings Court, Dunbar
  • McCarthy & Stone Eighteen Murrayfield Road, Edinburgh 

Affordable Housing Development of the Year sponsored by Anderson Strathern

  • Albyn Housing Association Craig Road, Dingwall
  • Eildon Housing Association Roxburgh Street & Union Street, Kelso
  • Springfield Properties / Dunedin Canmore Housing Association Muirhouse, Edinburgh
  • CCG (Scotland) Leith Fort, Edinburgh
  • Places for People Harvesters Way, Edinburgh

Innovation and Best Practice sponsored by Hacking & Paterson Management Services

  • CALA Group Get Into Construction
  • Springfield Properties Choices Interactive
  • Miller Homes Online home purchasing
  • Springfield Properties Villages concept

Supporting Organisation of the Year sponsored by Ground Developments Ltd

  • Morrison Construction
  • Rettie & Co
  • Pixel Image

Reflecting the robust nature of the awards programme, and the stringent judging criteria honed over the last two years, this year’s independent judging panel will again be undertaking site visits to all the shortlisted entries in the Private and Affordable Housing Development categories.  In addition, those companies shortlisted for Private Development of the Year will also be considered for the prestigious Homes for Scotland Home Builder of the Year award through a rigorous interview process.

Winners will be revealed at the Homes for Scotland Annual Lunch (sponsored by Burness Paull) at the EICC on Friday 25 May which will be hosted by comedian Jo Caulfield.  Now in its 16th year, places at the event are limited, with some 1,100 senior industry representatives and guests already confirmed to attend.

Chair of the independent judging panel Andy Mitchell, former land director at CALA Homes, said: “I am delighted to be involved in judging Homes for Scotland’s Awards, which have a reputation of being the most credible in our industry.

“The whole judging panel is determined to build upon this with a strong shortlist demonstrating the pride, passion and professionalism of those involved in delivering the majority of much needed new homes across the country.”

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes has been shortlisted for two categories in this year’s awards, with both shortlisted developments located in Newton Mearns.

The housebuilder is nominated for Private Development of the Year (large) for its Castle Grove development and Private Development of the Year (small) for its Red Lion site.

Joanne Casey, director at Mactaggart & Mickel Homes, said: “We’re proud to be shortlisted for not one, but two, categories at this year’s Homes for Scotland Awards. Thank you to our talented and dedicated design, site, and corporate teams who’ve all ensured our developments are worthy of being shortlisted. We look forward to hearing the results in May.”

Perth housebuilder Stephen has been shortlisted in the ‘Private Development of the Year’ (small) category for the 20 cottages being created at Chapelton, Aberdeenshire, which will ultimately become Scotland’s largest new town.

The two and three bedroom semi and detached cottages set in attractive courtyards complement the firm’s range of two to six bedroom homes, many of which are already occupied.

John Stephen, managing director, said, “These cottages are proving extremely popular since being added to the town’s street scene, with ten of them reserved off plan in the first few months. We have received an extremely positive response to the layouts with buyers and Chapelton residents alike commenting on the versatility of the homes and the lifestyle that they provide, particularly to those downsizing. These properties have their own distinctive character and we hope the courtyards will create small communities around their own private green spaces, adding to the owners’ sense of pride and place.”

Morrison Construction has undertaken complex waste water works at the new town of Tornagrain in the Highlands

Morrison Construction has been shortlisted in the Supporting Organisation of the Year category which recognises the important contribution associate businesses make towards the delivery of homes and wider value contributed to the industry.

The firm’s submission referenced the complex waste water works undertaken during the past three years in the Highlands to future-proof prime development land while connecting the new town of Tornagrain with the nearby Inverness Airport Business Park and Castle Stuart Golf Links.

Morrison Construction operation’s director, Stephen Slessor, said: “We are thrilled to be shortlisted at the Homes for Scotland Awards, it is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved.

“Our people work very hard for our clients to deliver infrastructure of the highest standard, which benefit the communities we work and live in for many years into the future.”

Nicola Barclay, chief executive at Homes for Scotland

Nicola Barclay

With seemingly perfect timing for International Women’s Day, Homes for Scotland chief executive Nicola Barclay recently addressed the annual dinner of the Association of Women in Property’s Central Scotland branch, which draws members from across the many different disciplines in the property industry.

Having first addressed the group a decade previous, Nicola reflects on her journey since then.

Ten years ago, I stood on the stage at the EICC addressing 850 guests at the Women in Property Dinner. I was Chairman of the Central Scotland branch at the time, and this was my penultimate event before handing the reins over to my vice-chairman.

I was recently honoured to be able to address the most recent dinner, to give them some of my personal thoughts on my own journey over the intervening decade as well as that of the Women in Property organisation itself. With International Women’s Day coming up, what perfect timing!

Back then, as I nervously made my maiden speech, I would never have believed that I would ever have the confidence to voluntarily deliver the after-dinner speech, nor that I would actually enjoy it!

“For me, the only thing you can do is be yourself.”

Nicola Barclay

I spoke about my journey through the housebuilding industry to becoming Chief Executive of Homes for Scotland, and the internal struggle I had with myself to accept that I was good enough to take on the job of leading the organisation tasked with representing such a vital industry. I also talked about the importance of the work Homes for Scotland does and recognised the tremendous efforts of my fabulous team. But my main focus was on my approach to leadership.

I’d been on a couple of training courses about leadership before taking on the role, and I also knew that it would be possible to get advice on all those HR or legal matters that would crop up, but what I’ve discovered since being in post is that you can’t rely on others to tell you what to do.  For me, the only thing you can do is be yourself; trust yourself; and accept that, yes, you will make mistakes but most importantly you will grow and learn from them.

Last month’s dinner had a masquerade theme, which is ironic really because the first thing any leader must do, in my opinion, is take off your mask – don’t hide behind something you’re not – and be your authentic self.

The main influencer on my journey was Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and author of “Lean In”. I encourage most women I meet to read this book! There are so many practical, almost obvious approaches to use in business to help you become more engaged, more connected and more in control of your working life. I love the example of asking questions at a conference. If the speaker says they have time for two more questions, invariably all the women in the room will lower their hands after two questions have been taken – they’re doing what they’re told and have been rewarded all their lives for being ‘good girls’. Unfortunately, the men in the room didn’t get that memo, so tend to keep their hands up, hopeful that they’ll get the chance to make their point or ask their question. I shared this example with a group of women in housebuilding, and was delighted when a few days later, I saw one of them put it into practice. Given that I was the one on stage looking for questions from the floor, I had to let her ask that third question, didn’t I?!

Nicola supporting the First Minister’s female mentoring campaign

So, what of my involvement in Women in Property? Is it still as relevant as it was ten years ago when I was Chairman? Absolutely. In fact, even more so. So many women lost their jobs during the recession, and we must encourage them to return and help shape the industry of the future. For young women entering the industry, it provides great opportunities to meet people, develop networking skills, and learn from those who have beaten down that path in front of you.

I will always remember the first networking lunch I attended.

I was terrified.

I sat in my car for at least ten minutes trying to summon up the courage to meet this group of women. After all, I had entered the property industry in the full knowledge that it was male dominated. Now I’ve always gotten on well with men and know how to deal with them, for the most part. But a group of professional women? What on earth would I have in common with them? The wonderful thing was, when I finally plucked up the courage to enter, I was greeted with warmth and friendship, and I got on just fine. I realised that I didn’t even know what I was missing: camaraderie, friendship and support.

“How can a process that is influenced and determined by only half the population create a place that suits the whole?”

Nicola Barclay

But Women in Property is about much more than just helping those embarking on their careers. They have just rebranded and want women in the industry to ‘Aspire: Succeed: Inspire’.

It is those who can inspire that I really want to reach out to:  those who can provide support and guidance to younger women. The mentoring scheme that Women in Property operates needs more mentors to help, and the organisation needs more senior women to stay engaged and involved so that it can provide a balanced mix of representation at events.

We need the credibility of senior women to influence and shape this industry. A pool of experience gives us the chance to put forward senior women for slots at conferences and panel discussions. We all want diversity on these panels, and are beginning to see more of it, but we must be willing to step up, or ‘Lean In’ you might say, when offered the chance to take the platform.

Only then can we really influence the debate.

Our industry needs women to do this. Our jobs are ultimately all about creating places where people will live and work. How can a process that is influenced and determined by only half the population create a place that suits the whole? Women have a fundamental role to play in this sector and we must be involved from the top to the bottom.

With International Women’s Day coming up on Thursday 8th March, will you pledge to support Women in Property? There are many ways you can help, depending on who you are:

  • Join up yourself or encourage your staff to join. If you can’t justify them all joining on cost grounds, get them to pitch for it. Who will value it the most? This may help you spot future leaders within your team.
  • Support the organisation through sponsorship. Sponsor individual events, the branch or the annual National Student Awards. Previous sponsors have been on the judging panel and thereafter had the pick of the crop (they’ve even been known to run down the street after one to offer her a position!).
  • Host an event. Site visits are always popular, but business skills, networking and training events are also great ways to engage with the membership and expand your own network.
  • If you’re already a member? Think about joining your local committee. It gives you an opportunity to expand your skills, and you can help to shape the diary of events.

For more information go to

Catch up with the rest of Scottish Construction Now’s International Women’s Day feature here.

Building industry and planners set to give Planning Bill evidence

Holyrood’s local government and communities committee will continue to examine the Planning (Scotland) Bill tomorrow as it hears evidence from organisations from the country’s builders and planners.

Tammy Swift-Adams, director of planning, Homes for Scotland, Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive, Scottish Renewables, Gordon Nelson, director, Federation of Master Builders Scotland, Sarah Boyack, head of public affairs, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Jonathan Fair, regional managing director – Scotland, McCarthy and Stone will all give evidence to the committee as the proposed Bill is put to the test.

MSPs will then hear from Kate Houghton, policy and practice officer, RTPI Scotland, Malcolm Fraser, consultant architect, Professor Cliff Hague, emeritus professor of planning and spatial development, Heriot-Watt University and Stuart Tait, manager, and Dorothy McDonald, assistant manager, Clydeplan.

Local government and communities committee convener, Bob Doris MSP, said: “The entire purpose of these proposed changes is to strengthen the planning system and boost its contribution to inclusive growth, housing and infrastructure in Scotland.

“The Bill also aims to empower people to have their say on their places more than ever before, so that communities can influence development plans in their local areas.

“Our Committee now wants to find out whether the Bill will deliver an improved planning system and if so, should any improvements and changes be made to the Bill so that Scotland can develop a world-class approach to planning its cities, towns and rural areas in the future.”

A link to the papers is available here and you can watch the sessions online tomorrow via

Builders call for Help to Buy extension as first-time buyer levels reach ten-year high

Karen Campbell

Homes for Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to extend the Help to Buy scheme to capitalise on new figures which revealed that the number of first-time buyers in Scotland is at the highest level for a decade.

Data published by finance and banking industry trade body UK Finance showed there were 8,800 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in Scotland in the fourth quarter of 2017, 3.5% more than in the same quarter of the previous year.

According to its report, the value of loans to first time buyers, who are typically 29 years old and have an income of £35,000, increased by almost 10% to £1.01 billion. The average loan to a first time buyer in the last quarter of last year reached £106,000, around 85% of the typical home value – 3.13 times the average salary.

Now, the umbrella body for builders has urged the Scottish Government to extend the Help to Buy scheme to further increase the number of first-time buyers.

Karen Campbell, director of policy at Homes for Scotland, said: “First-time buyers are the lifeblood of the housing market, triggering as they do a number of other transactions further up the property ladder so it is encouraging to see their numbers increasing. However, they still face a huge challenge in terms of the size of deposit they have to find. And this is where the new build sector can provide vital help since those eligible for the Scottish Government’s hugely successful Help to Buy scheme could purchase a new home up to £200,000 with just a five per cent deposit.

“With the majority of Scots aspiring to own their own home and increasing housing supply the single most effective way to address affordability concerns, we hope the Scottish Government will listen to our call to extend the Help to Buy Scheme beyond 2018/19. Not only will this allow more people to benefit from this support, relieving pressure on other sectors, it will provide builders with the confidence and certainty they need to invest in delivering more of the homes our country needs.”

Carol Anderson, chair of UK Finance’s Scotland mortgage committee, added: “The mortgage market has shown strong growth in Scotland, with first-time buyers and remortgaging levels at their highest for a decade.

“Remortgaging has also risen by a fifth compared to the same period in 2016, which demonstrates homeowners are shopping around.”

Earlier this month, separate research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies found that young adults are far less likely to own a home than ever before, with the decline in property ownership found to be most significant amongst young individuals aged between 25 and 34.

Planning Bill provides ‘crucial chance’ to ease housing crisis

Tammy Swift-Adams

As Scotland continues to wrestle with how to solve its housing crisis, Homes for Scotland has outlined its thinking on the proposals in the Planning Bill currently being scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament.

Setting out its position in written evidence to the local government and communities committee, the organisation, which represents the providers of the majority of the country’s new homes, believes that the Bill could deliver the balance the planning system requires as it focuses on improving collaboration rather than introducing potential areas for additional conflict.

Given the planning reform agenda was instigated by the need for more homes across Scotland, director of planning Tammy Swift-Adams said: “Public trust in the planning system must be improved to increase receptiveness to home building, so we welcome the emphasis being placed on better collaboration early in the plan-making stage.  Accordingly, the Evidence Reports which planning authorities will be required to present will have to demonstrate genuine engagement between planning authorities, community representatives and housing providers. The introduction of Local Place Plans could also provide an opportunity for communities to show what role they can play in articulating how Scotland’s development needs should be met.

“Any changes should be fully thought through. For example, an Infrastructure Levy may prove a useful future tool for securing the necessary infrastructure (such as roads and schools) associated with new development in a more transparent way than at present, but the detailed thinking on this is not at an advanced enough stage.  It would therefore be more logical to remove the Infrastructure Levy proposals from the Bill and set these aside for separate work.”

Swift-Adams also highlighted that there is as much to be achieved outside of the legislative framework as within it.

She added: “In light of this week’s quarterly statistics showing a good improvement on planning decision times for major housing applications achieved within the current system, we would hope to see ongoing improvements. If we can get planning reform right, good performance should be the norm and communities and home builders alike should have better trust in the process that shapes our country’s development.”

Referring to the debate on whether third party rights of appeal should be introduced, Swift-Adams said: “Like many others, we strongly feel this would be a negative move resulting in delays to the delivery of new homes. The focus should remain on finding new opportunities for collaboration rather than conflict.

“Having seen an increase of ten per cent in new NHBC housing registrations in Scotland last year, we must keep this momentum going at a time when people are crying out for new homes.”

Developers prevented from building new homes due to lack of capital school funding

Much-needed new homes are being held up in the planning system because local authorities are increasing the expectations on developers to deliver infrastructure solutions such as new local schools, according to Homes for Scotland.

In evidence provided to the Scottish Parliament’s education & skills committee before last week’s Budget announcement, the house building trade body urged the Scottish Government to explore different models for funding the development of schools to allow its members to deliver the homes that Scotland needs.

Interim director of policy, David Ogilvie, said Homes for Scotland is “acutely aware” of the scale of housing challenge currently facing Scotland and that its member companies “are committed to working closely with the Scottish Government to tackle the country’s under-supply of housing and help it to achieve its ambition of improving opportunity for all”.

But he added that a ‘joined up’ approach to housing is “clearly required” if the many positives new housing delivers are to be fully maximised and emphasised the need for a discrete capital funding stream for the development of new schools and associated infrastructure.

Submitting the evidence, Mr Ogilvie said: “Our members are becoming increasingly mired in intractable negotiations with planning authorities over the extent of planning gain expected from new home developments in their area. While our members are perfectly content to deliver new affordable homes in the local area, or to contribute towards the provision of additional schools capacity in a locality, the fact is that the scale of planning gain expected in some parts of Scotland is so great, or the timing expectations for delivering infrastructure solutions are such, that it is impacting negatively on development viability.

“The consequence is that much-needed new homes are being held up in the system because of an entirely avoidable Catch 22 scenario. We do not believe that home builders should be expected to bear the full burden of funding or front-funding new schools infrastructure via Section 75 contributions.

“While we will continue to work tirelessly with the Scottish Government to meet the housing needs of Scotland’s people, we would highlight that the home building industry is not solely responsible for Scotland’s population growth or the demographic change which is driving the need for more homes and therefore more school places.

“We would therefore wish to see Scottish Government bringing forward in the Scottish Budget 2018-19 a discrete budget heading designed to overcome the shortfall in capital funding for schools, which will unlock numerous sites across Scotland and allow us to ensure the delivery of new homes. This funding will either help get projects moving through the provision of the full upfront capital needed to deliver an education solution in an area (that can then be paid back in part at least through appropriate developer contributions) or the funding will bridge the gap between what the development impact is assessed as being and the wider education needs that also require to be addressed.”

Budget: £4 billion allocated for Scottish infrastructure

Derek Mackay

An allocation of over £4 billion of funding for infrastructure which includes a £756 million contribution to the Scottish Government’s target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes by 2021 were amongst a range of investment plans set out in the 2018-19 Draft Budget by finance secretary Derek Mackay.

The infrastructure investment, which is in line with the Programme for Government commitment to invest £20bn over the life of this parliament, also includes beginning the procurement of Scotland’s £600m universal superfast broadband programme to be delivered over the next four years; investing £60m in Low Carbon Innovation Fund to deliver innovative low carbon energy infrastructure solutions including for electric vehicles and investing £1.2bn in transport infrastructure, including key road projects and further electrification of the rail network.

Publishing the Draft Budget to parliament yesterday, Mr Mackay set out a programme that will also:

  • Deliver the first £70m of a new £150m Building Scotland Fund to unlock new house building, develop new low carbon commercial property and support research and development
  • Set aside £340m for initial capitalisation of the Scottish National Investment Bank
  • Drive regional economic growth by more than doubling investment in city region deals.
  • Deliver £18m as part of a £65m package of investment for the National Manufacturing Institute to make Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing

Responding to the announcement, David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation, said: “We welcome the creation of the Building Scotland Fund to support innovation in both housing and commercial property development as well as the capitalisation of the Scottish National Investment Bank.  Access to finance remains challenging in a severely risk-averse environment for developers looking to innovate with real estate projects and with the economy set for subdued growth in the next few years, the real estate sector can act as a positive driver of growth that will support jobs and investment in places to work, live and relax.

“The decision to use CPI as the measure of inflation rather than RPI is welcome but we believe that Scottish Ministers should not become tied to increasing business rates by this measure annually as was once the case with the RPI measure.  The economy is growing but only just and we feel that the freedom to increase rates by less than CPI should be considered in future budgets if the economy continues to struggle.

“New commercial development, or redevelopment has the potential to increase and to boost the economy and enhance the tax base.  The confirmation of the support for new build is welcome though we remain concerned that the potential restriction of listed building rate relief will deter the regeneration of listed buildings for business purposes.  This could have significant implications for struggling town centres and clear guidance to local authorities on restricting rate relief will be important.”

The country’s home builders said the Budget recognises economic importance of housing investment.

Chief executive of industry body Homes for Scotland, Nicola Barclay, said: “With home building in Scotland supporting over 60,000 jobs and contributing billions each year to the economy, we are pleased to see the Scottish Government confirming its ambition for the housing of all types our country needs.

“As well as a significant funding increase for affordable housing, the additional funding for skills bodies, colleges and universities that will help to plug the skills gap, is also welcome.

“The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax relief for First Time Buyers up to the first £175,000 of the purchase price could be a valuable boost for those aspiring to get on the property ladder, representing additional money towards their deposit or moving costs. However, given that this is not due to become effective until 2018/19, we are concerned that any delay may have a potential impact on purchasing decisions in the short term.

“Of particular note, however, is the establishment of the new £150m Building Scotland Fund which will have a prominent housing and infrastructure focus to support interventions that will further accelerate and scale up housing delivery. With the funding and delivery of infrastructure a major housing blocker, we keenly await further details in the new year.”

The Scottish Budget also followed Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s lead with a tax break for first-time buyers.

Under the plans, first-time buyers will be given a helping hand with a new land and business transaction tax (LBTT) relief for properties worth up to £175,000. As many as 80% of first-time buyers will now be exempt from paying any of the tax when buying a new home.

The move comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond exempted first time buyers from stamp duty – the equivalent tax in England – for homes up to the value of £300,000. Scottish ministers say lower house prices in Scotland means £175,000 is a roughly comparable figure north of the Border. Mr Mackay said the move will “make home ownership a reality for more of our young people.”

But the move does not go far enough according industry body the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland (RICS Scotland).

Hew Edgar, RICS policy manager for Scotland, said: “Whilst this change has the potential to stimulate activity in the short term, it comes at a time when the market is subdued, and does not tackle the overarching problem of housing shortage supply across all tenures. This government must realise that prioritising demand side measures is not conducive to market fluidity and will do little to solve the chronic shortage of suitable accommodation across Scotland’s housing options.”

He added: “Once again, we call on Scottish Government to review the current LBTT as a priority going forward as this current framework is not only limiting market activity, but could ultimately bring the market to a standstill. That said, we hope that the ‘Building Scotland’ fund will provide the required support for alternative models of housing delivery.

“On a more positive note, the £600m investment in providing superfast broadband – ensuring the last 5% of Scotland’s ‘non-spot’ dwellings – will be connected to the fourth utility by 2021, will be greatly received.

“As part of £4bn investment in this budget – £1.2bn of which will be directed towards transport – tackling the infrastructure deficit is always welcome. But Mackay held back and gave little away as to where the funding will be directed. He also missed an opportunity to attract and retain top talent to Scotland by not building on Scotland’s infrastructure success of the Queensferry Crossing, with no addition of noteworthy projects to the infrastructure pipeline.”

Innes Smith, chief executive at Springfield Properties, said the announcement was “a positive step forward” for the housebuilding industry in Scotland and for people who need homes.

He added: “With its progressive outlook, the Scottish Government remains determined to improve the housing situation across Scotland. A greater proportion of first-time buyers will be exempt from paying LBTT, making buying a first home more attainable. We are pleased to see the ongoing commitment to funding affordable housing and the large investments in infrastructure and superfast broadband which support the development of new housing.

“We are confident today’s news on LBTT, the Scottish Government’s £756m commitment to affordable housing and funding for further action on homelessness represents real action for those in need.”

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “The Scottish Government’s continued commitment to renewable energy is of course to be welcomed, particularly as its final Energy Strategy will be published within days.

“It is encouraging that the Government recognises renewable energy as a key driver of Scotland’s economy.

“Of note are the funds allocated to support both low-carbon innovation and the decarbonisation of the heat sector – a task which is of critical importance if we are to tackle climate change.

“We also welcome the reaffirmation of the Government’s intention to follow the suggestions contained in the Barclay Review of business rates and to link increases to the Consumer Prices Index, both of which will benefit new and existing green energy generators. We are pleased that Scottish Renewables’ recommendations on these points have been heeded.

“We will continue to work to understand the full implications of the detail contained in the Budget document for our members and look forward to working with the Scottish Government as the measures outlined in the Budget and upcoming Energy Strategy are implemented.”