Highlands Affordable Housing Supply Programme delivers 500 homes
The Affordable Housing Supply Programme has reached a milestone for 2022/23 with the delivery of more than 500 affordable homes across Highland.
As well as creating new homes, the construction activity injected over £80 million of work to the Highland economy, supported by £48m of Scottish Government grant.
The Highland Council’s approved ‘Future Highlands-Health and Prosperity Strategic Partnership Plan’ recognises that access to good quality affordable homes is crucial to the growth of the Highland economy and the sustainability of communities. The Highland Housing Register currently has approx. 9,000 applicants recorded which demonstrates the substantial demand and pressure on the supply of affordable homes.
Working in partnership, through the Highland Housing HUB, a group which includes a core membership of The Highland Council, Scottish Government, housing associations, and other providers of affordable housing who operate across Highland, we continue to search for new land purchase opportunities to meet current needs as well as the emerging needs due to economic regeneration and expansion. The emerging needs include localised activity such as sawmilling or fish farming/processing and more recently the need for accommodation to support the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport.
During the current year, the Scottish Government has provided almost £18m in grant funds to the council to secure key areas of land in Carrbridge, Dingwall, Drumnadrochit and Inverness, which can deliver up to 700 new homes. Negotiations are ongoing on further purchases in areas of need including Isle of Skye, Wester Ross, North West Sutherland and Easter Ross.
Housing and Property Committee chair, Cllr Glynis Sinclair, said: “Demand to live and develop business opportunities across the Highlands is high, yet access to affordable housing can be a stumbling block for those wishing to take up employment or to remain in the area. The Highland Council, alongside partners, will continue to work to build a portfolio of affordable housing stock.
“A key element to delivering more affordable homes is the availability of developable land. Preparing sites for development has long been recognised as vital to the successful delivery of affordable homes, with many of the recently completed projects only possible due to landbank purchases in previous years. A continued strategy of land banking for development will enable greater certainty when progressing our Strategic Housing Investment Plan.
“The funding support from the Scottish Government, to purchase sites, is a good example of the collaborative approach taken with the Council and will help contribute to meet housing needs across Highland.”
Housing minister Shona Robison said: “I’m delighted that so many affordable new homes have been built in the Highlands over the past year. Working in partnership with The Highland Council and development partners is key, and with the council securing these new sites we can ensure even more housing is made available for local communities.
“Building high-quality, affordable homes is fundamental to meeting people’s housing needs, encouraging young people to stay in the places they grew up in, and helping businesses attract and retain talent. That is why we are supporting Highland Council with £140m, over the remaining three years of this Parliamentary term, as part of our commitment to delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, with at least 10% in remote, rural and island communities.”
The ‘Strategic Housing Investment Plan’ identifies development opportunities up to 2028. The plan is already in action across Highland with over 1,000 new affordable homes underway or planned to start. House build projects range in scale and will provide a mix of social rent, mid-market rent and low cost home ownership opportunities to communities across Highland.