Fort William residents move into landmark Blar Mor development
A significant milestone at the flagship Blar Mor development in Fort William has been achieved as residents move into their new homes.
The Highland Council, which acquired the eight-acre site in 2015 and oversaw the challenging development, has delivered the site in partnership with the Scottish Government, City Region Deal and HHA.
The wider Blar Mor development will deliver 117 homes of mixed tenures and sizes in the region, helping to address the acute demand for much-needed homes.
The Highland Council will create 87 homes available for social rent, whilst 10 homes will be available for sale as shared equity under the Scottish Government’s Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers (LIFT) scheme.
The strategic development is the largest affordable housing development in the Highlands since the 1980s and will help to enhance the existing community with a considered design that is in keeping with the wider landscape.
With a range of one-to-four-bedroom homes available across the site, it is expected that the development will be attractive to a wide demographic, helping to retain and attract Fort William workforces and young families.
Fort William-based contractor, TSL Contractors, is delivering all on-site works, in a contract worth approx. £20 million. The appointment of a local contractor will help to ensure that the delivery of Blar Mor supports the local supply chain and workforce, as much as possible.
Local developer, HHA, has delivered its first phase of mid-market-rent (MMR) homes, which offer tenants rental rates that are typically lower than the private market, but higher than in the social housing sector. The first four tenants have now moved into their new HHA homes.
In total, HHA will deliver an attractive mix of 20 two and three-bedroom villas across the site, which comprise spacious living spaces and double bedrooms, as well as private garden space. The first phase completed attracted significant interest from the local community, underlining the requirement for well-priced, new homes.
Councillor Glynis Sinclair, the Highland Council - Housing and Property Committee chair, said: “FW2040 ambitions take a step closer with the first phase of the Blar Mor, Fort William development welcoming new tenants.
“The Highland Council housing priority is to offer affordable, sustainable and energy efficient housing that enables people to stay within rural communities, allowing them to prosper and grow and in turn support wider economic growth.
“Working in partnership with HHA is key to enabling housing priorities of this scale to be met and we look forward to continuing that journey as further phases at Blar Mor develop.”
Gail Matheson, CEO at HHA, added: “Blar Mor is a flagship development that will help to future-proof housing stock in Fort William as the housing crisis continues to impact Highland communities.
“Working with The Highland Council and Scottish Government, we are incredibly proud for the development to now reach a point that benefits the lives and wellbeing of local people, as they start to enjoy their new homes.
“HHA received an incredible level of interest for the first homes available, which reinforces why we must prioritise the delivery of high-quality, yet well-priced, homes to overcome the obvious demand that is outstripping supply.”
The Scottish Government is also helping to boost the delivery of Blar Mor with a £10.9m grant, through its Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme. This is earmarked for air source heat pumps and solar panels, helping to create a sustainable development that will help the environment as well as reduce energy costs for tenants, which will be warmly welcomed.
The Inverness and Highland City Region deal is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the University of the Highlands and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.