Plans to invest £163m in affordable housing on way

John Lamont MSP, left, and Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson MSP, right, chat with the managing director of M&J Ballantyne, Michael Ballantyne, at the company's East Broomlands building site.
John Lamont MSP, left, and Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson MSP, right, chat with the managing director of M&J Ballantyne, Michael Ballantyne, at the company's East Broomlands building site.

Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee meets on Tuesday, November 29, to consider a proposed five-year housing plan for the region.

The proposals could see £163m invested into affordable housing.

The strategic housing investment plan (SHIP) identifies how local housing needs and priorities will be addressed, including those being delivered with assistance of the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing Supply Programme.

Between £8.6m and £15m per year from the Scottish Government may be available to the Borders up to 2022, and in addition to this funding and private sector borrowing by registered social landlords, it is estimated that almost 1,200 new affordable homes could be delivered between 2017 and 2022.

Mid Berwickshire councillor Frances Renton, the council’s executive member for social work and housing, said: “This will provide vital accommodation for local people and families, enabling them to live and work in their communities, while also providing a welcome boost to the local building industry.”

All the local registered social landlords are committed to this ambitious programme.

It’s hoped the investment would not only deliver homes for local people, but would also create employment in the construction sector and provide wider economic benefits during both the build phases and once families move in.

Following a detailed Housing Need and Demand Assessment, the draft Local Housing Strategy 2017-2022, which sets out the vision and priorities for the future of housing and all housing related services across the Borders, estimates that 348 new houses should be delivered each year in the Borders, 128 of which should be in the “affordable” bracket.

In the first two years of the new SHIP, a total of 449 affordable homes are estimated for delivery across the region, including Kelso, Lilliesleaf, Duns, Eyemouth and Oxton.

From 2012/13 to the end of 2015/16 a total of 467 new affordable homes have been built, through a variety of funding mechanisms, in excess of the previous targets.

This week, the Scottish Conservatives issued their own plans for housing, saying they would help thousands of people onto the housing ladder.

On a visit to M&J Ballantyne’s East Broomlands development in Kelso on Monday, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said their plans would “kick-start a housebuilding revolution”.

Ms Davidson said the SNP needed to stop constructing its “unwanted” case for separation – and instead focus on a plan to build more homes for families.

Official Scottish Government figures show that the number of houses completed in Scotland last year fell – 15,854, down from 16,209 the previous year.

Speaking after the visit, Ms Davidson said: “Quite simply, when it comes to housing, this SNP government has failed to deliver.

“According to its own figures, the number of new houses completed in Scotland fell last year – and is still 10,000 a year below the levels it inherited in 2007.

“That failure means that, for thousands of young Scots today, their only hope of owning a home is if the Bank of Mum and Dad can pay for it. It also means not enough social housing for people who need it.

“It’s time the SNP came up with a plan to building homes for families – in both the public and private sectors.

“This needs to happen now. The Scottish Government’s budget plans for next year will follow this week’s Autumn Statement.

“We’ve set out our plans – let’s see the SNP set out theirs.”

John Lamont MSP said: “One of the issues raised with me time and again is the difficulties people in the Borders face in trying to get access to local affordable housing.

“Too often, families are stuck renting because of a lack of affordable alternatives or they are forced to move far away from work and friends in order to find somewhere to live.”

He added: “As well as investing in social housing, we need to do more to incentivise community and private developers to invest and to provide affordable housing.

“This is why these plans to incentives small builders, better develop brownfield land and help those wanting to build their own homes would be great for the Borders.”