Highland Council aims to build 3300 affordable homes 2023-2028

Blar mor development Fort William

At yesterday’s (Thursday 27 April 2023) Housing and Property Committee meeting, Members approved the draft Housing and Investment Plan 2023-2028 for submission to the Scottish Government.  Members also agreed to the indicative five year investment programme to 2028.

The Council’s Strategic Housing and Investment Plan (SHIP) considered in the context of the ‘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 across Highland.

The 2023-2028 SHIP has been prepared on the basis that it will be possible to approve at least 500 units with a target of 660 properties each year, of which 70% will be for affordable rent and 30% for intermediate affordable housing (e.g., low-cost home ownership or mid-market rent), this is in line with overall Scottish Government targets.

Housing and Property Committee Chair, Cllr Glynis Sinclair said: “Demand to live and develop business opportunities across the Highlands is at a record high, yet access to affordable housing can be a stumbling block for those wishing to take up employment, study or to remain in the area.  Over the next five years, The Highland Council, alongside its 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 land suitable for development. 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. A continued strategy for development will enable greater certainty when progressing the Strategic Housing Investment Plan.

“The funding support from the Scottish Government, and The Highland Hub membership is a good example of the collaborative approach taken by the Council and partners and will help contribute to meet housing needs across Highland.”

The draft Local Housing Strategy sets the targets for affordable housing, and the SHIP sets out how resources will be used over 5 years (2023-2028) to deliver these affordable housing priorities. Annual updates of the programme will include new opportunities that are likely to emerge over the 5 year period.

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, re-populating rural areas and support businesses to attract and retain talent.

The Highland Housing Hub has set objectives:

  • Deliver the Highland 5-year new build Affordable Housing Programme.
  • Collectively agree a revised Highland Strategic Housing Investment Plan based on the priorities set out in the Local Strategy.
  • Maximise investment levels for the delivery of affordable housing in areas of greatest need.
  • Work collaboratively and cement partnerships to deliver agreed outcomes.
  • Streamline Communication between different agencies that have a role within the delivery of housing.
  • Demonstrate a model of working which can be rolled out to other areas of Scotland.

Next steps:

The Strategic Housing Investment Plan 2023-2028 involved stakeholder and partner contribution that feed into the process in various ways. Following yesterday’s member agreement, the SHIP will be circulated to other Council Services, Registered Social Landlords, private developers, as well as representative organisations and public sector organisations such as the NHS. The SHIP will be monitored, and progress reviewed through the partnership framework along with the Scottish Government’s Housing Investment Division.

The full report can be read here (item 8).

28 Apr 2023