Michael Creech: Affordable housing facing most challenging period in 40 years

Michael Creech: Affordable housing facing most challenging period in 40 years

Michael Creech

Head of housing at Hardies Property & Construction Consultants, Michael Creech, has warned that Scotland’s affordable housing sector is facing its most challenging period in 40 years.

The affordable housing sector has always had challenges to overcome, but this is the most difficult period we have experienced in four decades.

The City of Edinburgh Council has become the latest local authority to make cuts to its affordable housing programmes, with no plans to green light any new affordable homes for the next year.

That statement follows the Scottish Government’s annual budget which contained a 43% cut to planning and housing, resulting in around £190m less for housebuilding. Added to this is a 91% increase in the cost of building an affordable home.

While we still have a huge portfolio of affordable housing work across our business, new build housing projects in particular are proving difficult to finalise and in turn get construction underway on site within the timescales anticipated at the outset. Project lead-in periods are simply growing longer.

We have had to contend with funding cuts to the affordable housing programmes across each local authority, spiralling inflation and construction costs, increased energy standards and zero carbon technologies as well as meeting affordable housing affordability criteria.

Hardies oversees well over 1,000 affordable housing units every year. This wealth of market intelligence across Scotland has allowed it to help unlock affordable housing development projects that are in limbo.

While our innovative solutions play a part in helping ensure affordable housing continues to be delivered as a priority across Scotland, we are well aware of the impact these delays create.

For example, a project that was to be delivered in 2024/25 pushed back to 2025/26 not only delays the delivery of the housing itself to meet demand but has a significant impact on the businesses that form the supply chain that deliver these projects.

The affordable housing sector remains of significant importance to the Scottish economy. New housing is constructed to meet the housing needs and demand in any particular location but also feeds a supply chain of materials suppliers, contractors, tradesmen, consultants, housing personal/professionals and others that rely on these projects.

Dealing with multiple issues on projects simultaneously and finding solutions to keep projects progressing through technical consents when the timescales for securing funding are unclear has become critical.

If anyone has an affordable housing project that is experiencing any of these issues then we would be happy to assist. Often a fresh approach is all that is required.

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