Housebuilding boost as Borders first with new deal

WORK is set to get under way in Galashiels on the first houses in Scotland to be built under the National Housing Trust (NHT) development deal.

A groundbreaking agreement has been signed by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), Scottish Borders Council and Peebles-based developer Tweed Homes.

The NHT scheme is the first of a number of developments across seven participating local authorities in Scotland and has started a steady flow of further deals set to close over the summer.

In the Borders, 51 affordable homes will be built – 25 in Innerleithen and 26 in Galashiels, and work is expected to begin on the latter site at Balnakiel in Galashiels immediately.

The properties will be a mixture of one and two-bedroom flats at Innerleithen and two, three and four-bedroom houses at Galashiels.

The homes will be completed by the end of 2012 and will be available for below-market rent for households with an annual income of £21,000-£28,000.

Tweed Homes followed a national procurement process and was awarded the Scottish Borders framework contract in April.

NHT homes will be let on short-assured tenancies and will be available for rent for a period of between five and 10 years, after which they will be sold, in consultation with the participating SBC, SFT and Tweed Homes. Tenants of NHT homes will be offered an opportunity to purchase with the proceeds of sales used to repay funding.

Barry White, chief executive of the SFT, said: “In these challenging economic times, NHT opens the door to a new way to build affordable housing in Scotland. This demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together in an imaginative way.

“We now have an established model with the signing of the Borders deal, a model which can be rolled out across other local authorities taking part in the NHT programme.”

The other local authority areas are Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Highland, Falkirk and Stirling.

Andy Pearson, managing director of Tweed Homes, told us: “We are absolutely thrilled to be involved in this important pilot initiative. The project will provide us with 51 homes to build, which will keep us busy until the end of 2012. NHT has provided an innovative solution to Scotland’s housing issue by working with key organisations, such as the Scottish Government, local authorities and Homes for Scotland.

“We will begin work on the Galashiels homes first, and for each home built, four jobs are either safeguarded or created.”