Comhairle nan Eilean Siar unveils significant affordable housing milestone

The Affordable Housing Programme at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has made further progress throughout the islands over the spring and summer, completing well over 500 homes, the local authority has revealed.

This financial year, 170 are currently on the ground and at various stages of completion.

The first phase at Sinclair Avenue (Goathill) – 20 homes for affordable rent and eight New Supply Shared Equity – was handed over in early June and work is now progressing apace on the care elements of the site.

Six flats at the historic Lady Matheson Seminary (Industrial Female School) in the heart of the Stornoway Conservation Area, were completed and allocated in July, and the development was named as a finalist in the category for Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2021.

Planning staff worked closely with colleagues in housing, Historic Environment Scotland, and contractor Lewis Builders Ltd, to ensure the Category B listed building was restored to a high standard, and the flats will make wonderfully characterful and affordable homes.

Further site updates include:

  • Shawbost, Lewis – four homes, completed April 2021;
  • Lady Matheson Court, Stornoway (Scotland Street) – six homes, completed July 2021;
  • Sinclair Avenue, Stornoway (Goathill) – 74 homes (16 NSSE), 20 + 8 NSSE completed June 2021;
  • Bremner Court, Stornoway (Goathill) – 50 Houses with Extra Care homes, works are ongoing;
  • South Dell, Lewis – six homes, completed August 2021;
  • Barvas, Lewis – eight homes, contractor on site, handover expected January 2022;
  • Tarbert Police Station, Harris – eight homes, handover expected October 2021;
  • Low Flyer, Balivanich, Benbecula – ten homes, on site, handover expected February 2022;
  • Howmore, Uist – four homes on site, handover expected October 2022, though a delay in the programme has been advised owing to
  • labour shortages; and
  • Cleit Road, Barra – six homes, awaiting land transaction and building warrant.
  • Sites at Crowlista (Uig), Keose Glebe (Lochs), Blackwater (Stornoway) and Lochmaddy (Uist) are at various tender, land transaction or negotiation stages and updates will follow once these stages progress.

Contractors have raised the issue of increased material costs and availability recently – something that has been reported across the sector nationally. The Comhairle said it hopes this may even out as economic recovery progresses, but any impact on the Programme will be reported accordingly.

Hebridean Housing Partnership chairman, Iain MacMillan, commented: “We are continuing to deliver new homes right across our islands despite the challenges we have all faced over the last 18 months. We are committed to working with others to meet housing need in the islands and will complete a further 136 homes over the next 12 months. These achievements reflect the strong partnerships we have developed with the Comhairle, Scottish Government and our contractors and communities.”

The Comhairle’s Housing Team has commenced work on the statutory Housing Need and Demand Assessment which will be submitted to the Scottish Government in 2022, and which will inform the next Local Housing Strategy and Affordable Housing Programme.

HHP has also commissioned an island-wide Housing Needs and Demand Assessment, the outcome of which will be reported in due course, and it will help to inform future development programmes.

The Housing Land Audit (HLA) which took place earlier this year, has now been published, and it has aided the identification of sites throughout the islands. In addition, talks continue with Grazings Committees and Community Development Trusts to further identify and bank suitable land, following feasibility works. There is good potential for the continuation of rural development in accordance with Comhairle and partner aspirations.

The Comhairle recently welcomed confirmation of Scottish Government funding of £43m for affordable housing for the five-year period from 2021-2026, and is currently in discussion with partners and the Scottish Government as to how to progress.

Councillor Kenny John MacLeod, chairman of the Communities and Housing Committee, said: “We are, once again, very grateful to the Scottish Government for making a substantial funding allocation available – £43m for the Outer Hebrides has the potential to deliver significant numbers of new affordable homes over the next five years.

“The Comhairle is committed to working with HHP and the contracting sector to advance investment opportunities, though we are all keen to see a more flexible approach to development to ensure the full allocation is utilised and increased housing opportunities and benefits are delivered throughout our Islands.”

Share icon
Share this article: