Homes for Scotland

Homes for Scotland welcomes two new team members

Trade body Homes for Scotland (HFS) has welcomed two new members of staff for 2017, as industry figures David Ogilvie and Dan Cookson join the team to provide maternity cover for director of policy Karen Campbell.

David Ogilvie has been appointed interim director of policy, responsible for developing and promoting HFS positions on a number of issues such as access to development finance, skill shortages and the challenges of the low carbon agenda.

Ogilvie brings a wealth of experience to the role with over 20 years working in the affordable housing sector with local authorities, housing associations and government across the UK. Having held senior policy roles for both the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Chartered Institute of Housing, his comprehensive knowledge includes specific expertise in housing strategy, housing needs and demand, homelessness and housing support, community regeneration and social enterprise.

Cookson, a freelance digital innovation consultant specialising in housing market research, will further strengthen the organisation’s status as the voice of the home building industry, supporting its evidence base through data collection and analysis.

Widely recognised as an innovator in the analysis of the sales and rental markets in Scotland and the UK, Cookson provides bespoke research and commentary for a wide range of clients including property agents, developers and investors.

Chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “These appointments come at a crucial time for our industry as we prepare for May’s local elections, ahead of which we will be continuing our focus on raising home building and its associated benefits up the political agenda.

“David and Dan’s insights will underpin Homes for Scotland’s activities as we work to ensure Scotland has enough homes of all types to meet the diverse needs and aspirations of our growing population, with their knowledge and expertise providing consistency in service to members throughout 2017.”

Scottish home builders ‘face double apprenticeship levy’

Nicola Barclay

Nicola Barclay

Industry body Homes for Scotland (HFS) has warned that the country’s home builders face the prospect of paying a double levy to support apprenticeship training unless funds are ring-fenced to support the sector.

The issue has arisen as the Scottish Government sets out its response to the UK government Apprenticeship Levy and how it plans “to develop a distinctly Scottish approach to apprenticeships and wider skills development”.

The Apprenticeship Levy will operate UK-wide, with all employers paying 0.5% of their annual pay bill in excess of £3m through the PAYE system.  In 2017-18 the Scottish Government will receive £221m in Levy funding, with this expected to increase to £239m by 2019-20.

Nicola Barclay, HFS chief executive, said the move could further hamper attempts to increase the supply of much needed new housing given ongoing skills shortages affecting the sector.

Ms Barclay said: “We back many of the Scottish Government’s proposals, in particular those which relate to Modern Apprenticeships including increased support for graduate level and foundation apprenticeships as well as the establishment of a Flexible Workforce Development Fund.

“However, already affected by significant skill shortages across all areas, including trades and professions, home builders face the prospect of paying a double levy given existing arrangements with the Construction Industry Training Board on training, qualifications and apprenticeships.

“We are therefore extremely disappointed that the Scottish Government has chosen not to address this matter in the form of direct support for our industry by channelling funds back, ignoring the concerns raised by HFS and other stakeholders.

“It is also surprising that the Scottish Government does not view home building as a priority sector for skills support, given the current housing crisis and the ambitious target for delivering 50,000 new affordable homes by the end of this parliament.

“HFS would advocate that the Levy funds be ring-fenced to support the sector, with access made simple, business-led and driven by the shared objectives that support the delivery of the Scottish Government’s key priorities of supporting economic growth and strengthening productivity.”

Home builders prepare for Mumbai Women Build

Gill Henry (left) and Nicola Barclay will be utilising their skills to support vulnerable communities during a week-long ‘Women’s Build’ in Mumbai this month

Gill Henry (left) and Nicola Barclay will be utilising their skills to support vulnerable communities during a week-long ‘Women’s Build’ in Mumbai this month

Two of the best known female faces in Scotland’s home building industry are in the midst of final arrangements as they prepare to fly to India later this month to help some of the country’s most marginalised communities build their own homes.

Supporting the vital work of Habitat for Humanity, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland Nicola Barclay and colleague Gill Henry of Cruden Homes will be taking part in the charity’s ‘Women Build’ event in Mumbai from 21-28 January.

Helping to provide the poorest and most vulnerable with a decent place to call home, they have already raised an impressive £8,500 to support the charity venture, which will see them working on a building site and undertaking tasks such as mixing and pouring concrete, bricklaying, painting and plastering.

Nicola said: “We know it’s going to be a tough job, but more than half of the people in Mumbai live in slums with many more living in extremely basic tenements or on the streets.

“Coming from an industry which is rooted in the premise that everyone should have a safe and secure home, having the opportunity to join with other women to help improve conditions for those less fortunate than ourselves is a great privilege and gives us the chance to give something back.

“There will no doubt be a lot of blood, sweat and tears but we are sure the rewards will be worth it!”

Meryl Davies, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, said: “I’m delighted that Gill Henry and Nicola Barclay are participating in our Women Build in Mumbai this month. Their commitment to providing safe, affordable homes for vulnerable families is testament to the values shared between our organisations.

“My thanks to Nicola and Gill for their remarkable fundraising over the past few months. They are invaluable members of the Women Build team and I know they will make a huge difference to the lives of the families they work alongside in India.”

Sector welcomes Scottish planning report

David Melhuish

David Melhuish

The Scottish Property Federation (SPF) has welcomed the latest planning report as a major turning point for local authority planning services around the country.

The industry body believes Places, people and planning: a consultation on the future of planning in Scotland, published yesterday by Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government and housing, will provide a strong basis for improving Scotland’s planning system.

The consultation paper sets out twenty proposals for change, aiming to strengthen the planning system while supporting sustainable economic growth throughout the country.

SPF director David Melhuish believes the report is a step in the right direction for planning services.

He said: “The launch of the consultation is a welcome step in the direction of giving our planning service a platform for improvement. The property industry is increasingly reliant on global capital and if we are to drive local economic growth, jobs and investment we must have strong public leadership and an efficient and aspirational planning service.

“The recent set of quarterly statistics published by the Scottish Government demonstrated a notable trend of reducing numbers of major planning determinations that continue to take longer to achieve. We need the planning system to show strong leadership, support appropriate development and welcome new investment in our built environment.

“The property industry has already said it would be prepared to pay higher fees for a better service. We would like to see a greater understanding by the public sector however, of the upfront costs the private sector already pays towards delivering the planning service and the risk involved.

“We agree with the independent review that the service is currently too bogged down in process and procedure and welcome and support a more aspirational and visionary future role for the planning service.

“The development industry fully supports the aspirations expressed in the consultation paper on co-ordination of investment programmes and working with existing agencies and is keenly interested in seeing therecommendations of the Independent Panel of the need for an Infrastructure Agency and an Infrastructure Fund taken forward. This should offer the opportunity of greatly improved infrastructure delivery that will unlock development while at the same time retaining the viability of development projects.

“Infrastructure delivery is a key challenge under the current system and it will be a test of success for the proposals in the consultation paper.”

Alastair Wood

Alastair Wood

Alastair Wood, Savills head of planning in Scotland welcomed the white paper, but said the Scottish planning system needs to remain nimble in order to deliver sustainable development and meet ambitious housing targets.

He said: “The working group has produced thorough and far-reaching proposals. However, extending the period of adoption for local development plans from five to ten years may prove to be overly restrictive. Some degree of flexibility must be retained within the planning system to ensure it is nimble enough to adapt to changes in the economic and political context.

“Further, the proposals could see appeals on major allocated sites determined by a local review body, without developers being able to appeal to Scottish Ministers. For such significant developments it remains essential that the right of appeal to an independent body is retained.

“Finally, there is the potential for a planning levy to provide new infrastructure to support development. The experience of trying to apply such a levy south of the border shows how difficult this is in practice and there are certainly lessons to be learned.”

The Royal Town Planning Institute Scotland (RTPI Scotland) said it was delighted that Kevin Stewart has published a vision for the future of planning that places people and communities at the heart of a positive and proactive system.

Stefano Smith

Stefano Smith

Stefano Smith, RTPI Scotland convenor, said: “This announcement recognises the huge potential of good planning to help Scotland face the daunting challenges of today, such as the housing crisis and climate change. It echoes many of the game-changing ideas that RTPI Scotland has been championing.

“RTPI Scotland agrees that removing the need to obtain permission for certain types of small development, and careful exploration of zoning for high quality and sustainable housing development could free up resources. This would give planners more time to invest in delivering the high quality sustainable places that Scotland needs.

“The ambitions outlined will not be realised without making sure that planning expertise is at the decision-making table at all levels of government. We would like the reforms to take a step further to guarantee a more corporate approach to planning, so that place is always taken into account, from conversations about education and inequality to health and the environment.”

Industry body Homes for Scotland said delivery of new homes must be the “golden thread” running through transformation of planning system.

Nicola Barclay

Nicola Barclay

Chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “We agree with the minister for local government & housing that planning should be inspiring, influential and focused on outcomes.

“Reinforcing the need for such a new perspective are recent performance figures showing planning decision times for major housing applications slowing further to 48.5 weeks, more than three times the statutory period.

“Scotland needs significantly more homes for its growing population but builders are finding it harder than ever to make a start on new sites and get houses out of the ground.

“We are therefore pleased to see some of the recommendations we put forward during the course of the independent review, such as the introduction of clear national and regional aspirations for housing delivery and ‘embedding an infrastructure first approach’, incorporated into today’s consultation.

“But more detail is needed on how other proposals, such as ‘giving people an opportunity to plan their own place’, would work in practice so we will be listening closely to the views of our members as we review the consultation document in depth and develop our submission.

“Ensuring we have the homes we need to deliver Scotland’s future economic success and social well-being must be the golden thread running through this transformation.”

Scottish planning body PAS said it supports the consultation’s aims to get more people involved in planning.

Petra Biberbach

Petra Biberbach

Petra Biberbach, PAS chief executive, said: “This is a great opportunity for people and communities across Scotland to actively shape and inform the future Planning Bill that will follow on from this consultation. We welcome the focus on getting more people involved in the planning system and in shaping their places and communities.

“This consultation and subsequent Planning Bill have the potential to unlock many opportunities for communities across Scotland, through getting people more involved in planning, through some of the proposed changes to the system, but importantly through linking directly with community planning, the Community Empowerment Act and Land Reform Act to help achieve the aims of the planning system, supporting community ownership and community-led ‘local place plans’.”

Colin Hamilton and Isobell Reid, Associates at Gillespie Macandrew said: “This consultation should be welcomed by all involved in the planning system as a sign that the Scottish Government remains committed to moving forward with reform with a collaborative approach. Everyone agrees Scotland’s planning system is ripe for reform but equally there are many different and sometimes competing interests which need to be balanced and harnessed.

“Scotland needs to increase housebuilding rapidly if it is to address its shortage of homes. Many of the proposals will be welcomed by housebuilders, including the recognition that allocated sites within a local development plan should bring certainty to developments.   However there are a number of difficulties recognised in the consultation which would need to be resolved if this aspiration is to be met.

“Of course, the planning system has to balance this need for certainty with ensuring communities feel listened to.

“This balance is not easy to achieve, which is why we will work with industry partners to identify how obstacles can be overcome as Gillespie Macandrew crafts our response. However it is certainly good to see that the Scottish Government is listening to stakeholders before embarking on reforms.”

The consultation runs until Tuesday 4 April and can be accessed here.

Budget delivers ‘significant’ further investment in infrastructure

Derek Mackay

Derek Mackay

The Scottish Government delivered a budget yesterday which it said will add significant further investment into the core drivers of economic growth such as transport, energy, housing and digital infrastructure.

Unveiling his first Draft Budget for 2017-18 to Parliament yesterday, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said 2017 will see the completion of the Queensferry Crossing and progress made on the M8/M73/M74, AWPR and the A9 and A96 projects.

Mr Mackay also announced over £470 million of direct capital investment to begin the delivery of the 50,000 new affordable homes and over £140m to support energy efficiency programmes.

Budget at a glance

  • Funding to bring the Queensferry Crossing to completion, progress on the M8/M73/M74 Motorway Improvements project, Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, the A9 and A96 projects, the A737 Dalry Bypass, and commencement of procurement on projects such as the A90/A96 Haudagain junction and improvements on the A9 at Berriedale Braes (subject to the completion of statutory procedures)
  • £460 million expenditure on rail network enhancements, such as the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvements Programme (EGIP) and enhancements to the Aberdeen to Inverness route
  • Over £100 million investment in digital and mobile infrastructure, to improve digital connectivity, grow Scotland’s digital economy and increase digital participation, including support for our commitment to deliver 100 per cent broadband access by 2021. The budget also confirms that the Scottish Government will consider matching the business rates reliefs for fibre infrastructure announced in the UK Chancellor’s Autumn Statement of 23 November 2016
  • Substantial investment in social infrastructure, underpinning a modern and effective NHS, providing high quality education facilities that support our attainment objectives, and initial investment in the most significant infrastructure project of this Parliamentary session: the expansion in the provision of early learning and childcare.
  • Over £470 million of direct capital investment to begin delivery of 50,000 affordable homes,
  • Over £140 million for Energy Efficiency programmes to help deliver climate change targets
  • Freeze on rates and bands for residential and non-residential LBTT
  • Continued funding for City Deals in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness and work to promote the case for City Deals for Edinburgh, Stirling and Dundee/Perth
  • Work to explore and make progress on the development of a potential Ayrshire Growth Deal and invite proposals for two further Tax Incremental Financing projects
  • Establish a flexible workforce development fund as part of a uniquely Scottish response to the introduction of the UK government’s Apprenticeship Levy
  • support the continued expansion of Modern Apprenticeships as a step towards providing 30,000 starts by 2020

Trade body Homes for Scotland said the Budget fails to unblock the barriers that are preventing the delivery of the homes the country needs.

Chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “The Scottish Government recognises the need to increase the delivery of new homes for the benefit of Scotland’s communities and economic growth but there is little in (yesterday’s) statement to make this happen.

“Whilst there is generous capital spend on the delivery of affordable homes, which is welcomed, our members tell us that it is harder than ever to commence new sites and get much needed homes of all tenures out of the ground.

“This is borne out by key indicators published this week which showed a flatlining of housing completions at a level still some 40 per cent below that before the recession, as well as a worrying fall in the total number of homes being started, but there are, unfortunately, no new announcements to help unblock the system.

“In particular, we are disappointed that none of the £800m of capital budget consequentials from the Autumn Statement will be used to unlock development in Scotland, especially in relation to the provision of education infrastructure which is now one of the biggest blockers to housing delivery.

“We had requested the Scottish Government extend the five per cent banding of the Land & Buildings Transaction Tax given the impact this is having on house purchases above the current £325k ceiling. Whilst we fully support the Scottish Government’s aim of helping First Time Buyers, we must ensure that the property ladder functions at all levels. When aspirational buyers choose not to move, this prevents others further down the ladder from being able to do so.

“We note with interest the proposal to ‘modernise compulsory purchase orders to ensure vacant and derelict land can be brought into use for communities’.It is right that positive opportunities to intervene are fully explored for sites where landowners would struggle to bring development forward without support. This echoes Homes for Scotland’s views on the need to prioritise positive interventions over financial penalties which would be unlikely to help unviable sites.

“We also look forward to seeing the detail of the SME Holding Fund as we recognise that the SME sector of the housing industry has been disproportionately impacted by the downturn and requires support if it is going to grow and help deliver the many thousands of homes this country needs.”

Gail Hunter, director RICS in Scotland, added: “The £470m capital investment in housing is a welcome move as a means for the Government to meet its 50,000 affordable homes target by the end of the parliament, however, there is a lack of detail on any future funding or investment for the development of other housing tenures, which are also in very limited supply.

“The current LBTT bands and thresholds has caused a slowing of house sales in the middle and upper price brackets, and the Cabinet Secretary announced no changes to the current regime. This is a missed opportunity to provide exemptions for older people downsizing or exempting new build homes from the additional dwelling supplement for buy-to-let investors after a set period of time that would boost activity, and start to shift the static market that currently exists in the middle and higher market areas.”

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “We are pleased that key infrastructure budgets such as roads and digital infrastructure are set to rise substantially over the coming year.  It is essential that Scotland is 100 per cent connected to superfast fixed line and mobile communications and that our major road bottlenecks, such as the A9 Berriedale Braes in Caithness and the A77 Maybole Bypass in Ayrshire, are addressed with urgency.”

On the Apprenticeship Levy, Liz added: “Whilst the detail of the Scottish Government’s plans for Apprenticeship Levy funding is still to be announced, it seems strange that at a time when Scotland’s employers are paying a new tax to help fund skills provision, funding for skills and training is actually forecast to fall by over £7m next year. Clearly the devil will be in the detail and we await the Skills Minister’s formal plans with great interest.”

For the Existing Homes Alliance, the Budget failed to provide the “bold investment required” to tackle cold, draughty homes and fuel poverty.

The campaign group said the Scottish Government’s announcement that the total spend on fuel poverty and home energy efficiency for the financial year 2017-18 will be set at £114m, is a small increase on the 2016-17 figure of £103.3m, but a cut in comparison to the £119m spent in 2015-16.

It falls well below the £190m figure the Existing Homes Alliance believes is necessary to begin the transition to a programme capable of eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland and meeting our climate change targets. The additional £75m the Alliance believes is required represents just under a quarter of 1 per cent of the Scottish Government’s total expenditure.

Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said: “While yesterday’s proposals do show a small increase in funding for fuel poverty and home energy efficiency work, it doesn’t even restore funding to the level it was at before last year’s cuts to this vital budget. Boosting home energy efficiency budgets to the level required is perhaps the most effective way to deploy capital investment, given the wide range of social and economic benefits this work brings.

“After decades of missed opportunities, we had hoped the commitment to energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Priority would come with the transformative level of funding required to help people currently living in cold and draughty homes that are expensive to heat.

“Action to insulate cold homes will need to ramp up significantly in the coming years to tackle fuel poverty and climate change, and the supply chain stands ready to deliver. This is a missed opportunity to capture the massive benefits that a bigger investment would bring. We understand the public finances remain under significant pressure, but the extra money needed here represents less than a quarter of 1 per cent of the Scottish Government’s overall spending.

“It’s also important to remember that this is just a draft Budget. There is still time for Ministers to improve their proposals and for opposition parties to make home energy efficiency a priority before a final Budget comes to Parliament in January next year. Bold investment is required as a matter of urgency: the Alliance estimates the spend required for next year should be closer to £190m rather than £114m. We know that the recent UK Budget means substantial additional capital funds will be available to the Scottish Government, more than enough to ensure the improved commitment we need to see here. The broad benefits of investing in improving cold and draughty homes – from more jobs and better health to lower fuel bills – mean there can be no more obvious choice when Parliament is considering how to allocate those funds.”

Planning statistics prove system ‘is still slowing housing delivery’

Tammy Adams

Tammy Adams

Trade body Homes for Scotland (HFS) has said that the latest statistics on Scotland’s planning decision times further substantiates its claims that builders are finding it harder than ever to make a start on new sites and get much needed homes out of the ground.

Quarterly statistics on planning applications published yesterday revealed that the average decision time for local developments was faster than the equivalent quarter in the previous year, but that the average decision time for major developments was slower.

At 48.5 weeks, the time taken on planning decision times for major housing applications remains more than three times the statutory period of 16 weeks. In fact, for the period July to September in 2016/17, the time has actually slowed by a day from the previous quarter.

The news follows a report earlier this week that annual housing completion levels have effectively flatlined at an average of around 15,000 since 2010, still some 40 per cent below pre-recession levels, with a drop in the total number of homes being started.

HFS director of planning, Tammy Adams, said: “With today’s figures showing no improvement, slow planning decisions, together with complications relating to conditions and developer contributions, continue to be one of the main blockers to the delivery of housing.

“We know Ministers are not happy with current performance and that Scottish Government officials are looking at the root causes of the delays. Whilst we hope that the planning review will refocus the system and prioritise the delivery of enough new, high-quality homes to meet housing need, the truth is that we just can’t wait for that.

“There is an urgent need to get decisions out in good time, both on planning applications and appeals. If this doesn’t happen, the all-tenure housing crisis will only get bigger and this will be to the detriment of communities across Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is now consulting on increasing planning fees for major developments. Planning services clearly need to be properly resourced, but a fee hike will not be palatable unless there is a guarantee that performance will improve.”

In quarter two (July to September) of 2016/17 there were 6,684 decisions made on local developments, with an average decision time of 9.1 weeks. This was slower by one day compared with the previous quarter (8.9 weeks), but quicker by almost 4 days when compared to the equivalent quarter in the previous year (9.6 weeks), and is the quickest average time for quarter two since the start of this data collection in 2012/13.

For the 48 decisions made on major developments the average decision time was 44.8 weeks. This was more than 5 weeks slower than the previous quarter (39.3 weeks) and the slowest average decision time since the start of this data collection in quarter one of 2012/13.

Local developments include applications for household extensions and loft conversions etc, smaller housing and retail developments, as well as various other types of local developments.

Major developments include applications for developments of 50 or more homes, as well as certain waste, water, transport and energy-related developments, larger retail developments, and other types of major developments.

The overall rate of approvals for all types of application was 94.6 per cent in the period July to September 2016, an increase from the previous quarter (94.0 per cent), and the highest approval rate since the since the start of this data collection in quarter one of 2012/13.

New build housing completions up but ‘stable levels of investment still required’

construction stockAlmost 16,000 new homes were built in the 12 months leading up to June 2016, an increase of four per cent on the same period the previous year, according to new figures.

Quarterly housing statistics released yesterday by the Scottish Government found that there were 15,991 new build homes completed in the last year, an increase of 591 homes on the previous 12 months.

There were increases in the number of new homes completed in the private sector (up by 537), housing association houses (up by 46), and local authority new builds (up by eight), compared to the previous year.

The figures also revealed that new build starts over the year (16,450) decreased by 681 homes (4 per cent) on the 17,131 starts in the previous year.

There were increases in the number of housing association approvals (up by 418 homes or 16 per cent) and local authority starts (up by 334 homes or 26 per cent), whilst private-led new build starts decreased by 1,433 homes (11 per cent), when compared to the previous year.

Trade body Homes for Scotland described the statistics as a step in the right direction but pointed to a worrying eleven per cent drop in private sector starts over the same period.

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, said: “Whilst this increase in completions is welcome, at less than 600 homes, much more obviously needs to be done in order to effectively tackle Scotland’s housing crisis and this will require many thousands of new homes of all tenures.

“Over the period from 2010, annual completion levels have effectively flatlined at an average of around 15,000 and we now see a worrying drop in the total number of homes being started, with alarming disparity between public and private sectors.

“The system therefore remains in need of resuscitation to ensure that the pipeline of new homes coming through is not blocked or delayed by bureaucratic processes.

“This is reflected in comments made by some of our members that it has never been harder to open new sites and get homes out of the ground.

“With the majority of those living here still wanting to own their own home, it is essential that the Scottish Government gets on top of the barriers that are preventing people from achieving this most basic of aspirations and enables our industry to increase the contribution it makes to our country’s social and economic wellbeing.”

Minister for housing Kevin Stewart said: “It is good news the number of new build houses being completed has risen to almost 16,000 in the last year, with the rate in Scotland remaining higher than the UK average. We are investing £160 million to support home ownership this year and since 2007, our home ownership schemes have supported over 22,000 households to buy a home.

“Looking to the future it is also hugely encouraging to see the rise of affordable housing supply approvals, up by 34 per cent, which shows the impact of the Scottish Government’s commitment of £3 billion as we continue our progress to deliver 50,000 affordable houses in this parliamentary term.”

Homes for Scotland launches 2017 awards scheme

Cruden Homes was named Home Builder of the year 2016

Cruden Homes was named Home Builder of the Year in 2016

Industry body Homes for Scotland (HFS) is inviting entries from across a variety of categories for its 2017 awards scheme.

Designed to showcase the wide-ranging achievements of a sector that plays a crucial part in our country’s social wellbeing and economic success, the awards were introduced in 2003 in order to recognise and promote best practice.

This year’s programme features the following categories:

  • Private Development of the Year – large (100+units) (sponsored by NHBC)
  • Private Development of the Year – medium (26-99 units)
  • Private Development of the Year – small (up to 25 units) (sponsored by Blackadders LLP)
  • Affordable Housing Development of the Year
  • Family Home of the Year
  • Supporting Organisation of the Year

Those companies shortlisted for Private Development of the Year will also be put forward for the prestigious title of Home Builder of the Year, with the independent judging panel undertaking interviews with senior management during site visits to recognise the more rounded nature of this award.  In 2017, interviews will also be conducted with those shortlisted for Supporting Organisation of the Year.

All winners will be announced at the Homes for Scotland Annual Lunch at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Friday 12 May 2017 which will be hosted by comedian Tim Vine.

Now entering its 15th year, it is the largest such industry gathering with a record 1100 guests in 2016.

Chairman Jim Mather said: “The HFS awards remain a key aspect of what we do for our members and this year we are trying to take the refreshed and refocused scheme of 2016 to an even higher level.  That means continuing with a format of more stringent judging criteria, which I believe makes our scheme the most robust in the industry and very much worth winning.
“I therefore strongly encourage member companies to take advantage of this opportunity to showcase the quality and innovation they deliver as their contribution to the thousands of homes of all tenures that Scotland needs.”

The official entry brochure for the 2017 Awards scheme can be accessed here.

Homes for Scotland appoints new director of planning

Tammy Adams

Tammy Adams

Homes for Scotland (HFS) has promoted Tammy Adams to the position of director of planning, responsible for developing and promoting the organisation’s position on local, strategic and national planning policy and practice, and on the infrastructure and utilities needed to support development.

With Scotland’s planning system remaining firmly in the spotlight as the independent root and branch review marches towards a White Paper at the end of this year, there are clear signs that planning performance needs to improve.

Latest official statistics revealed a significant slowing down in the time taken to determine planning applications for major housing developments.

Tammy Adams said she intends to continue to work positively with policy and decision-makers at the national, strategic and local levels.

She said: “Since joining HFS in September 2014 and in particular in recent months, I have seen some very positive signs of planning and development professionals from different sectors talking to each other more openly and constructively.

“HFS members have played a key part in strengthening our discussions with the Scottish Government as well as local and strategic-level planners and we are starting to see some benefits in terms of the wider sector’s understanding of what the home building industry needs in order to bring development plans and housing targets to life.

“I hope this collaborative spirit will contribute to a significant increase in the delivery of the new homes which we need for communities across Scotland, as all involved look to play their part in enabling sustainable development.”

Tammy joined HFS in September 2014 as principal planning advisor, becoming head of planning in February 2016. Prior to this she held a number of senior positions in England, including head of planning with Northumberland National Park Authority and as a planning advisor with the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The appointment will also see Tammy join HFS’ 22-strong Board of industry figures tasked with setting the organisation’s work priorities as it seeks to ensure Scotland has enough homes of all types in the right locations to meet the diverse needs and aspirations of the growing population.

CITB and Homes for Scotland launch fund to train non-trade employees

CITB strategic partnerships manager Michael Lennox and Homes for Scotland chief executive Nicola Barclay

CITB strategic partnerships manager Michael Lennox and Homes for Scotland chief executive Nicola Barclay

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and Homes for Scotland (HFS) have launched a new £250,000 scheme to train non-trade employees.

With the number of homes being built in Scotland still 40 per cent down on pre-recession levels, skill shortages are a major barrier to a much-needed increase in supply.

However, the issue affects much more than just traditional trades with expertise needed across all areas involved in the production of new homes such as surveying, management and sales and marketing.

The Homes for Scotland Professional Skills Fund will run from November 2016 to December 2017. Its aim is to ensure that non-trade staff get the necessary training to ensure the industry can deliver the tens of thousands of homes Scotland requires.

The fund will help CITB levy-paying members of HFS to target training for employees, graduate trainees and those on undergraduate placements to ensure that best practice is applied and the highest standards upheld.

Michael Lennox, strategic partnerships manager at CITB Scotland, said: “Scottish housebuilders told us that more needs to be done to address the range of skills challenges in the sector. Working with HFS, this investment is a step towards addressing that important issue and will boost technical and professional skills to ensure that we can build the homes that Scotland needs.”

Nicola Barclay, Homes for Scotland chief executive, added: “Ensuring we have enough homes for our growing population is absolutely fundamental not only to our country’s social wellbeing but also its economic success. With every home built supporting four jobs, the employment potential is huge, so HFS is delighted to be partnering with the CITB to ensure all those working in our industry have training opportunities available to them.”