A recent housing study undertaken for The Highland Council has highlighted a chronic and persistent lack of affordable housing in the Highlands.
It also shows that due to high house prices and low incomes less than a third of new households in the Highlands (29%) have enough money to buy housing.
The Council is drawing up a five-year action plan which will set out how it will tackle this and other challenges. It wants residents across Highland to give them their views on what they think needs to be done differently.
The study highlighted that around 8,000 new houses need to be built over the next five years to house all those who want to make a new home for themselves. If these houses aren’t built then this will lead to increased housing costs; people being unable to live in the area (which will weaken our economy and jeopardise jobs) and put more pressure on rented housing.
The study also showed that around 4,500 of these new houses need to be ‘affordable’, such as housing association or council rented housing. Nairn, Skye and Lochalsh, West Ross and Mid Ross are under the greatest pressure for affordable housing. Lochaber, Inverness and Badenoch and Strathspey are the next most pressured.
There are more than 10,000 households on Highland’s Housing Register. The majority of them have been awarded points because they have housing needs. The Council and Highland’s housing associations allocate their houses to people who are in the most housing need. Last year, more than 1,400 households were provided with social rented housing through the register.
The Council, with Highland’s housing associations, have been one of Scotland’s most successful providers, providing 2,000 new affordable homes in communities right across Highland over the last 6 years. Private housing developers have also helped by providing a proportion of affordable housing on their larger developments. However, the Council expects that there will be much less money from the Government and from lenders to build new affordable housing over the next few years.
It is also difficult to build more because there are many development challenges. The quality and condition of a lot of privately owned housing is also a concern.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Housing and Social Work Committee, said: “We want Highland residents to help us decide what action to take. We want to understand what people’s priorities are - and what changes they think are needed - so that we can take these on board.
“There are several different ways that people can give us their views including through their ward forums and responding to a survey which is being carried out. “
The survey and newsletter is available from housing offices, the council’s service points and at the Council’s Information Days. Some organisations such as community councils may have already been sent it by their Ward Manager.
The survey is also available on-line on the Council’s web-site /livinghere/housing/
People also have an opportunity to give their views and ask questions through information days that are being run as part of the consultation on Highland’s main planning issues and options for the Council’s Highland Wide Development Plan.
17 information days have already been held across Highland and more are to follow including ones in: Aviemore Church Hall – Friday 30th October 10am-6pm and Nairn Court House – Saturday 31st October 10am-4pm.