Homes for Scotland

Home builders bemoan ‘distinct lack of detail’ in planning review proposals

Nicola Barclay

Nicola Barclay

Proposed changes to Scotland’s planning system will be a missed opportunity to make the strategic and radical changes to the delivery model that are required to increase the number of homes across the country, according to Homes for Scotland (HFS).

Submitting its response on behalf of its 200 members to the “Places, People and Planning” position statement, which sets out the package of reform measures the Scottish Government is considering taking forward, the trade body said the proposals fall short of the review’s original objective.

Chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “Given the crucial role the planning system plays in Scotland’s social wellbeing and economic success, the position statement offers a distinct overall lack of detail, particularly in relation to the process for the new Local Development Plan gatecheck and the introduction of an infrastructure levy to address what is becoming the most significant challenge to housing delivery.

“With matters now moving to a Bill at the end of the year, it is our view that a great deal more information is required before the package of legislative and non-legislative reforms can be effectively scrutinised. To that end, HFS and its members remain ready to positively engage and assist in developing a clear, robust and effective set of the proposals that meet the housing needs of our growing population.”

Earlier this week, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) warned that the new Planning Bill proposals do not focus enough on delivering more quality affordable homes, while the Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland (RTPI Scotland) urged the Scottish Government to look beyond “merely procedural” change to the planning system, and to provide more detail on how proposals are to be taken forward.

New statistics bust myth of ‘rabbit hutch’ modern homes

Nicola Barclay

Nicola Barclay

New energy performance data gathered from buildings in England and Wales has busted the myth perpetuated by critics of modern new homes that they are “rabbit hutches”, according to trade body Homes for Scotland.

Statistical analysis of the Energy Performance Certificates shows the mean floor area of new homes as being 94 square metres compared to 91 square metres for all domestic properties.

Homes for Scotland said the figure illustrate that, as well as new homes actually being larger than the total mean figure, they are also nearly 25% bigger than the commonly referred to figure of 76 square metres which itself dates back to 1996 – over 20 years ago.

Chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “These official figures only apply to properties south of the border as the same information is not publicly available in Scotland as of yet, but they will hopefully help recalibrate the conversation on new homes and help bust some of the myths that surround them.

“Of particular importance, the statistics also highlight the energy efficiency of new homes, demonstrating the significant savings of more than 50% that could be achieved in terms of both estimated energy usage and costs.

“With new homes built to proportions that suit modern lifestyle requirements and being much cheaper to run in comparison to their older counterparts,  we must now focus on how we can all work together to deliver more homes across Scotland to meet the needs of our growing population.”

Trade body calls for housebuilding programme to stimulate ‘stagnating Scottish economy’

unnamed (5)Building much needed new homes could fill the economic void left by large, soon to be completed infrastructure projects such as the Queensferry Crossing, according to Homes for Scotland.

Responding to the EY Scottish ITEM Club Summer Update, which predicts growth in the Scottish economy for 2017 to be half that of the UK, the trade body said the country needs a new housebuilding programme to prevent its economy from stagnating.

Chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “This report emphasises the importance of business and government working together to de-risk investment, build confidence and drive economic growth.

“As well as helping to deliver the biggest return in terms of skills, jobs, productivity and the other measures highlighted by the ITEM Club, building the homes of all types that are needed to meet the requirements of our growing population also offers vital social benefits such as improved health and education outcomes.

“Whilst we need tens of thousands of new homes, latest figures show that Scotland remains in housing decline with our members telling me that it has never been harder to open new sites and get homes out of the ground.

“Research shows that returning to pre-recession levels of building by the end of this Scottish Parliament would alone generate an additional £1.9bn in economic output and 38,000 jobs on an annual basis.

“What we need is a supportive policy framework which encourages housing investment and development, and which enables Scotland to reap these economic and social rewards.”

Barratt Homes crowned Home Builder of the Year

Tim Vine announced the winners of the 2017 Homes for Scotland Annual Awards at the organisation’s Annual Lunch in Edinburgh, with Barratt Homes scooping Home Builder of the Year

Tim Vine announced the winners of the 2017 Homes for Scotland Annual Awards at the organisation’s Annual Lunch in Edinburgh, with Barratt Homes scooping Home Builder of the Year

Barratt Homes has been crowned Homes for Scotland’s Home Builder of the Year at the trade body’s largest ever ceremony, which was held in Edinburgh last week in front of an 1100-strong crowd of senior industry leaders and guests.

The awards, which were presented by comedian and actor Tim Vine, recognise the achievements of those involved in delivering the wide range of quality homes Scotland desperately needs, with judging criteria significantly strengthened over the last couple of years to ensure that they remain the most robust and credible within the industry.

Barratt scooped the top honour as the result of its strong showing in three categories, customer focus and commitment to Scotland.  Judges were also impressed with the pride and passion demonstrated by senior management during a comprehensive interview.

Kareen Davidson, chair of the independent judging panel for a second consecutive year and former sales & marketing director at Bett Homes, said: “With the rigorous judging process which is in place ensuring that Homes for Scotland awards are very much worth winning, I have been delighted to see the quality of entries increase year-on-year.

“All of the finalists were strong contenders in their own right and all are therefore extremely worthy of recognition. This was reinforced by the judging process involving site inspections in the development categories, the introduction of interviews in the Supporting Organisation category and the need to demonstrate how the needs of a modern day family are met in the Home of the Year category.

“Judging the awards has been a tough but rewarding job and we congratulate everyone who entered for their commitment and showcasing their achievements in helping to ensure we are building enough homes for Scotland.”

Douglas McLeod, regional managing director for Barratt Scotland, added: “Design, quality and service are at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. We take an enormous amount of pride in the consistently high levels of quality and service that we deliver for our customers across Scotland.

“It’s a great achievement for Barratt Homes and its developments to be recognised as leaders in terms of the quality of what we do. We are passionate about the homes we build so it’s fantastic to be acknowledged by the Homes for Scotland panel in this way. In the end it’s not just about individual homes that we build it’s about the places we create.”

School_Road_Broxburn-47Elsewhere, the redevelopment of the former Broxburn Primary School in West Lothian was named Affordable Housing Development of the Year.

Constructed by partnership housing developer Lovell on behalf of West Lothian Council on the former Broxburn Primary School site, the new purpose built residential flats are designed specifically for older people and to enable them to live as independently as possible.

Creating minimal impact on the surrounding area, Broxburn – Housing for Older People utilised many of the original 1890’s sandstone buildings’ features. Two new buildings were also constructed to create 18 one and two bedroom flats arranged around a shared courtyard and garden area.

School_Road_Broxburn-41Demonstrating Lovell’s strong commitment to investing in the local area, 80% of subcontractors working on the project came from within 40km of the project site. Running alongside the development programme, Lovell also made particular efforts to establish an educational schools and colleges programme. This included a Health and Safety team visit to the new Broxburn Primary School, giving pupils an opportunity to learn about good health and safety practice and the dangers of building sites.

On winning the Affordable Housing Development of the Year category, Sarah Freel from Lovell, said: “Everyone at Lovell is thrilled that our new development on Broxburn’s West Main Street has been named Affordable Housing Development of the Year at this year’s coveted Homes for Scotland awards.

“Lovell have been building affordable partnership homes for over 45 years, even selling the UK’s first ever affordable partnership development back in 1972. We are committed to working with a range of local partners to deliver housing that is carefully tailored to the needs of the local community. It’s really gratifying for such a collaborative project to be recognised through these awards and we are very grateful to everyone involved in bringing the project to life.”

DCIM102GOPROThe Homes for Scotland Awards were established in 2003 to recognise and promote best practice in the industry. Building on the success of 2016’s refreshed and refocused awards, the 2017 programme introduced more stringent judging criteria and site visits, making these awards particularly sought after.

A full list of winners can be accessed here.

Scotland has ‘mountain to climb’ to meet housing demand

Nicola Barclay

Nicola Barclay

The challenges facing those delivering the new homes that Scotland desperately needs are getting ever steeper, according to a leading industry figure.

Addressing 1100 senior industry representatives in Edinburgh on Friday, the chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, Nicola Barclay, likened home building, which is still 40% down on pre-recession levels, to climbing a mountain.

Ms Barclay said: “Just when you think you’re at the top, you see how much further you still have to go. Whether it’s developer contributions, planning applications, pre-commencement conditions, utility connections – the list goes on:  one false summit after another with each getting more difficult to tackle.

“I am immensely proud of this industry which is one of the most resilient in Scotland, having survived the worst recession in living memory. For those of us still here, we have emerged stronger, more passionate and more determined to succeed than ever before.

“And this makes the challenges we face – this mountain we have to climb – all the more frustrating, particularly when you consider our importance to both the economy and the Scottish Government’s housing delivery programme.”

Recognising the achievement of member companies Mactaggart & Mickel, Cruden and CCG in receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development for the 2014 Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village, she said: “I wish all developments were treated by our politicians in the same way. We all know this wasn’t your average site – there was no way that this project was going to be allowed to be delayed.  But it is a great demonstration of what can be achieved when public and private sectors work together to achieve a successful outcome.

“If Scotland is ever going to solve its housing crisis, every development needs to be given the same level of support and commitment.”

Homes for Scotland chair Jim Mather steps down

Jim Mather

Jim Mather

Trade body Homes for Scotland (HFS) has announced that current chair Jim Mather is stepping down from the organisation with effect from its Annual General Meeting on May 12.

With the process of recruiting a successor already underway, vice chair and previous past chair Doug McLeod, who is regional director in Scotland for Barratt Homes, will act as chair on an interim basis.

HFS chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “Jim’s insight and experience has been invaluable in expanding our work in the critical area of public affairs and the Board and I wish him well for the future.”

Homes for Scotland ‘extremely disappointed’ with planning reform proposals

Tammy Adams

Tammy Adams

Homes for Scotland has said it is “extremely disappointed” with the Scottish Government’s proposals for changes in planning policy which it argues will only “exacerbate Scotland’s chronic housing shortfall”.

Expressing the frustration of its 200 member companies in its response to the “Places, People and Planning” consultation White Paper, the trade body criticised a suggested hike in planning fees adding that while the detail required to deliver new home did not match the rhetoric.

Director of planning Tammy Adams said: “With home builders telling us it has never been harder to open new sites and get much needed homes out of the ground, and having consistently relayed our concerns to the Scottish Government over some time, we are extremely disappointed with the package of proposals in the recent consultation paper. Whilst the words framing the need to deliver more homes are there, the detail required to achieve this is not.

“Homes for Scotland has engaged positively throughout the planning review process and we will continue to press for the current system to be tightened up to ensure maximum efforts are made, across all of Scotland’s planning authorities, to focus on policy and practice which actively enables the delivery of new homes.

“Despite an improving market, the number of new homes being built is in decline and, as existing sites are completed, home builders are increasingly struggling to secure planning permission for new ones. This situation will only exacerbate Scotland’s chronic housing shortfall, yet the planning review proposals contain no clear and targeted measures to address the real issues with development plans and development management processes.

“As we move towards the Planning Bill, due later this year, it is less clear than ever how the Scottish Government intends to find planning system solutions to increase the number of new homes being built.

“The focus on home building that was clear when the planning review was first launched in 2015 has been lost, with too many radical reforms sought across potentially conflicting agendas.

“Coupled with recent proposals to significantly increase planning fees for major developments, and set in the context of very slow planning decision times (particularly for major housing developments), the political commitment to meeting Scotland’s housing needs across all tenures is not as strong as we had hoped.

“Key to the success of any planning reform will be the Scottish Government’s ability to lead local public and political opinion on the benefits of building the new homes our country needs. ‘How will this change assist the delivery of more new homes?’ should be a constant question as the chosen reforms take shape. As ever, Homes for Scotland stands ready to play a full and constructive role.”

Last month, the Scottish Property Federation hailed the consultation in relation to fees and resources for major planning applications as a major turning point for local authority planning services around the country.

Earlier this week, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said access to affordable land was the biggest challenge to providing quality social housing while CIH Scotland said that the changing needs of an ageing population and other important demographic trends will also need to be addressed.

The John Muir Trust said that while the package of reforms includes proposals of merit, the Trust is concerned over several key points and has called for greater recognition for the environment.

Head of policy, Helen McDade, said: “While we welcome the ambition to have local place plans and early community engagement with applications, we believe that some form of Equal Rights of Appeal is essential to redress what is a serious imbalance in the planning system in favour of developers.

“There can be no environmental or social justice until communities and environmental charities have the same rights as developers.

“We are also disappointed that there is virtually no mention in the consultation paper on the need to consider the wider environment.

“The Trust would like to see Environmental Impact Assessments still paid for by the developer, but commissioned by the local authority, or by an appropriate public body such as Scottish Natural Heritage where for example there may be a significant impact on the natural environment.”

Kevin Stewart, Scottish minister for local government and housing, said: “There was a high level of engagement to our consultation from across Scotland and from people who are passionate about making the planning system work for everyone. The consultation outlined at a number of issues in addition to delivery of housing and we will now analyse those responses.

“We look forward to seeing the results, particularly on how we can support a new approach to improving performance. In the meantime, we remain completely committed to delivering the homes that Scotland needs.”

Homes for Scotland announces awards shortlist

Ness Castle, Inverness

Ness Castle, Inverness

The shortlist for Homes for Scotland’s home building industry awards has been announced as the trade body prepares to acknowledge the sector’s achievements at its largest celebration to date.

Recognising what the wide-ranging membership of Homes for Scotland does best – build homes to meet the country’s diverse needs and aspirations – those companies achieving a finalist’s place are:

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

  • Barratt Homes Ness Castle, Inverness
  • Springfield Properties Meadow Lea, Nairn
  • Persimmon Homes East Scotland Melrose Gait, Galashiels
  • Stewart Milne Homes Central Scotland Earl’s Green, Troon

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

  • Barratt Homes Burnside @ Riverside Quarter, Aberdeen
  • CCG (Scotland) The Schoolhouse, Edinburgh
  • Places for People / EMA Architecture + Design Urban Eden, Edinburgh
  • CALA Homes (East) Kinleith Mill, Edinburgh
  • Cruden Homes West King’s View, Glasgow

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

  • Mactaggart & Mickel Homes Lockhart Woods, Edinburgh
  • Whiteburn Projects Parkview Phase 3, Dundee 

Affordable Housing Development of the Year sponsored by IDSystems

  • Cruden Building & Renewals / Loretto Housing Association (part of the Wheatley Group) Eriboll Crescent, Glasgow
  • Lovell Partnerships / West Lothian Council Housing for Older People, Broxburn
  • Springfield Properties Springfield Milton of Campsie, East Dunbartonshire
  • Link Group MacVicar Court, Oban
  • Places for People Niddrie Mill Primary School, Edinburgh

Family Home of the Year sponsored by Anderson Strathern

  • Barratt Homes The Balmoral
  • Miller Homes The Yeats
  • Cruden Homes West The Oak
  • Springfield Properties The Culbin

Supporting Organisation of the Year sponsored by Savills

  • Geddes Consulting
  • Registers of Scotland

Reflecting the robust nature of the awards programme, 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. For the first time in the history of the awards, those shortlisted for Supporting Organisation of the Year will also be interviewed by the judges.

Winners will be announced at the Homes for Scotland Annual Lunch (sponsored by Burness Paull) at the EICC on May 12 which will be hosted by comedian and actor Tim Vine.

Chair of the independent judging panel Kareen Davidson, former sales & marketing director at Bett Homes said: “2016 saw the most rigorous judging process for the Homes for Scotland Awards so far and my fellow judges and I are determined to use this platform to ensure this year’s awards continue to be the most robust and credible in our industry and thus very much worth winning.

“We have seen the quality of entries increase year-on-year and the shortlisted companies clearly demonstrate the high standard the industry is achieving in terms of its approach to the varying needs of customers, design and the placemaking and sustainability agendas. The judging panel is very much looking forward to viewing the different developments and finding out more about the vital role played by the shortlisted supporting organisations during the interview process.”

Housing statistics stir debate on focus of tenure for delivery

Nicola Barclay

Nicola Barclay

Housebuilders have called for the Scottish Government to adopt an all tenure approach to housing delivery after new figures revealed a fall in the number of new homes getting underway.

While yesterday’s Quarterly Housing Statistics showed a slight increase in new build completions and a 20% increase in affordable home approvals, Nicola Barclay, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, said that she was “deeply concerned” by a 5% drop in the number of new builds being started to 16,870 in 2016.

The figure was dragged down by a “worrying” private sector drop of 14%, down to 11,816, while in comparison, social sector housing starts increased by 24% to 5,054.

Ms Barclay said: “Whilst it is good to see an increase in social sector funding and consequent activity, we must recognise that this equates to only a third of homes built, and we therefore need an all-tenure approach to delivery if we are to meet the wide range of housing needs and demands of people across Scotland.

“I am deeply concerned by today’s figures which confirm the views of my members that it has never been more difficult to start sites and get much needed homes out of the ground.  Obviously this continuing flat-lining of total supply is bad news in relation to the jobs and investment builders bring to our economy, but unfortunately those worst affected are the young people and growing families struggling to get on the housing ladder.

“Not only is the lack of an adequate housing supply across all tenures stifling ambition and aspiration, it is also continuing to pressurise house prices and rents as well as threatening Scotland’s future success and social well-being.”

While welcoming the increase in affordable home approvals, Adam Lang, head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland, said these “need to quickly translate into affordable homes being built”.

He added: “We will only start to meaningfully tackle Scotland’s housing crisis if we can deliver a real step change in affordable housing supply. Crucially this must include a large proportion that are available for social rent at a cost people can actually afford.”

Conversely, Scottish Greens’ housing spokesperson, Andy Wightman MSP, said the quarterly statistics show that ministers are “too reliant” on the private sector to deliver its housing targets.
Mr Wightman highlighted statistics which revealed a small increase in private new build housing, compared to the previous year, while social sector builds decreased compared to the previous year.

He said: “The affordable 50,000 homes target set by ministers is ambitious, but looks unreachable without over reliance on the private sector. Scotland is in the midst of a housing crisis. However, there are solutions beyond building more private homes. For example we should be utilising the 34,000 empty homes, enhancing regulation of the short term lets sector and introducing radical land reform proposals.

“If the Scottish Government is serious about affordable housing then it is of concern that the total completions for the social sector to December 2016 is down 9% compared to the previous year.”

Home builders oppose fee rise for ‘disastrously slow’ planning system

Tammy Adams

Tammy Adams

Home building industry body Homes for Scotland has opposed proposals by the Scottish Government to increase the maximum fee level for planning applications.

Holyrood is currently consulting in relation to fees and resources for major planning applications in Scotland in which it suggests an increase to fees to £125,000.

Responding to the official consultation, Tammy Adams, director of planning at Homes for Scotland, said there is no proposal to ring-fence the extra income and no mechanism to guarantee that the performance of the system improves.

Ms Adams added: “We do not object to the principle of reviewing and increasing fees but in recent months the average decision time for major housing applications has been 48.5 weeks – more than three times the statutory period of 16 weeks. This is disastrously slow and does not include the likes of negotiating Section 75 Agreements or road construction consents.

“The slowness of Scotland’s planning system works against the common goal of all those who want to increase the delivery of much-needed new homes. Indeed, our members tell us it has never been harder to get homes out of the ground.

“As no evidence has been provided to suggest the planning fee is the root cause of poor performance, or that the increase now proposed will guarantee a material improvement to applicants, we cannot support the measures currently being put forward.

“Homes for Scotland is ready and willing to engage positively with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders on how a stronger and more supportable package of measures can be put together to improve planning performance and justify a review of planning fees. We will therefore be requesting a meeting with officials and Ministers as soon as this consultation closes.”

Yesterday, the Scottish Property Federation (SPF) described the consultation as a major turning point for local authority planning services around the country and said it supports an increases in planning fees if it can lead to a more streamlined, effective and efficient planning service in Scotland.