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Caithness News Bulletins May 2006
RECORD INVESTMENT FOR NEW AFFORDABLE HOMES IN HIGHLAND
Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm has announced record £31.5 million spending for affordable housing in Highland this year.
The investment through Communities Scotland, the Executive’s housing and regeneration agency, will enable 560 new homes to be built for rent or low-cost ownership in the Highland region.
This is the second year of the £1.2 billion programme announced in 2005 which will provide 21,500 new or improved affordable homes across Scotland by 2008.
Mr Chisholm said: “The various communities across Highland have their own distinct housing needs – particularly for affordable housing. “This will make a huge difference for hundreds of people and their families in Highland to get decent homes they can afford. “Communities Scotland is working hard on the ground with various local agencies in Highland to deliver exactly that. A lot of progress has been made. However, there is much more we can do - and now will do as a result of this record Executive investment.
“But there is a golden opportunity later this year for The Highland Council tenants to add considerably to this.
“Voting ‘yes’ for stock transfer means the Treasury will write off debt – allowing much higher investment, stable rents, more control and better services.
“It also makes community ownership a reality so that local people really do have a say in their housing – and their future.”
Communities Scotland area director for the Highlands and Islands, David Nicol, added: “The budget of £31.5 million represents a significant increase in funding for Highland. The Communities Scotland local team, based in Inverness, will continue to work with the Highland Council and local housing associations to identify need and get best value for money in delivering quality homes for people across the area.”
An early benefit from involvement in the Community Ownership Programme for stock transfer is the inclusion of £10 million towards increasing affordable housing across the Highland area.
The Highland Council has welcomed the Scottish Executive's announcement that a record £31.5million will be invested in the provision of new affordable housing in the Highlands in this financial year. £10 million of this will be routed through the Community Ownership Programme, with a target of 225 new homes.
Councillor Sheena Slimon, the Council's housing spokesperson, said: "We are delighted with this news. The record levels of investment will increase our ability to house even more of our families and single people.
"Last year, we received £25.5 million and through our joint working with other agencies we increased this to £33.5 million, thereby allowing 683 affordable homes to start on site. If the Community Ownership ballot is successful in October we will be able to build yet more homes for families and single people on our waiting list."
Details of the programme and examples of projects in Highland which will benefit from funding this year include:
Lochalsh and Skye
Phase two will be approved this year and will provide a further 51 of the total 280 new homes in Portree that this project will eventually provide.
Badenoch and Strathspey
In 2005/06 major developments at Woodside of Culloden, Maclennan Crescent, Merkinch, Leachkin Brae, Dell of Inshes, Milton of Leyes and Dalneigh were approved where a range of housing will be available to rent and buy. These projects will receive over £10 million in funding this year. On completion this will mean over 220 new homes in these areas. Over and above this, the Maclennan Crescent site will make a significant contribution to the regeneration of the area while the development of the former hostel site at Dalneigh will remove a derelict building which was subject to repeated acts of vandalism and replace this with 43 new flats for rent or sale.
The Leachkin Brae development saw the launch of Homestake, a new shared equity grant mechanism, in Inverness in October. In addition to the other projects mentioned, investment in the Highlands will provide about 90 Homestake homes for purchase at discounted prices to help first-time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder throughout the area.
Homestake is managed by Communities Scotland and aimed at helping people on low incomes who wish to be home owners but cannot pay the full price. The scheme will allow a registered social landlord to fund part of the house and the homeowner buy a majority equity stake which is usually 60 to 80 per cent.