Providing affordable housing across D&G

Wednesday, 08 June 2022 16:13

A Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) sets out a Local Authority’s strategic investment objectives for affordable housing and Gypsy/Traveller accommodation. A five year programme which is updated regularly, it is the key document or identifying proposed projects needing funding. The Council, as the strategic housing authority, uses the plan to inform Scottish Government investment.

Members of Economy and resources Committee (14 June) will receive a report on the latest progress of this successful Plan and be asked to agree to the inclusion of a new project in the SHIP. Cunninghame Housing Association (CHA) have requested that the Council includes the building of 58 social rented homes, with a mix of houses, bungalows and 2 wheelchair accessible properties, at Port Road, Dalbeattie.

As we all experience the current cost of living crisis, the development of high quality, affordable, energy efficient dwellings aimed at tackling a range of socio-economic challenges is extremely important. The provision of secure homes that have a positive effect on the lives of people living in our region is crucial, particularly for young families, those living on low incomes, the homeless or those with specialist housing needs. Rent affordability plays a vital role in tackling poverty with high housing costs being one of the biggest problems.

The economic benefit of delivering new affordable housing has the additional benefit of enabling construction workers to gain secure employment or training opportunities in the building sector. In addition to new housing, a number of SHIP developments aim to bring brownfield sites back into use, regenerate empty buildings and contribute to the sustainability of town centres and the look of the environment. One of our Council’s 5 priorities is to ‘Urgently respond to climate change and transition to a carbon neutral region’. Finding a productive use for derelict sites can help to address climate change by limiting urban sprawl, avoiding the loss of green space, and reducing the need for travel. Building affordable homes within walking distance of local services also enables people to live better, healthier lives and supports the Council’s net zero carbon ambitions.

In 2021 the Scottish Government wrote to all Local Authorities advising them of their aim to conclude the delivery of their previous 50,000 affordable homes target during the course of 2021-22. The SG intends to work with the housing sector to deliver a further 110,000 affordable homes over the 10 years up to 2032. At least 70% of those homes will be for social rent, helping to tackle child poverty and homelessness, and 10% will be in rural locations. As well as this ambition to increase the supply of affordable homes, they will take action to ensure those homes help to create strong and vibrant places and are of high quality.

To allow D&G Council to plan the delivery of housing supply for 2021/22 to 2025/26, a total RPA of £106.148m was allocated from the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP) to the region. This is increased by development partners own finance, and further investment, meaning that successful delivery of the SHIP will enable investment of a significantly greater sum than the Scottish Government initial allocation.

The Scottish Government has highlighted that our Council has a clear focus on delivery of affordable housing and that we have identified key partners to help identify and provide more specialist housing such as larger properties, wheelchair and zero carbon properties.

Chair of Economy and Resources Committee, Katie Hagmann said: The SHIP is an important factor in our work to address many of our Council’s current priorities. In addition to supporting the Council’s Net zero ambitions it also helps to ‘Build the local economy’, ‘Provide the best start in life for all our children’ and helps to ‘Protect our most vulnerable people’. There are clear links between good quality housing and improved health, and a portion of the new housing will be designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities, so no one is left out. The SHIP also helps to form strong partnerships with our local housing associations, and I am pleased to see this plan go from strength to strength, year on year.”

Vice Chair, Sean Marshall said: “It’s a positive sign that housing associations are asking for new developments to be included in the SHIP. Providing Members agree to progress the new sites, this will not only help bring much needed housing to the area but will also represent a huge boost to the construction industry and the local economy. The regeneration of some parts of our region are dependent on attracting new businesses: these new businesses will bring new jobs and people into our communities so we must invest and plan ahead in order to accommodate them.”