Comhairle welcomes £43m for new affordable housing

Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay. NO F42 Roddie (002)
Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay.

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Funding of £43 million for housing should be used in new ways to reach peripheral communities in the Western Isles.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar leader Councillor Roddie Mackay says he is keen for the local authority to find ways to invest some of the just-announced £43million of new government housing cash in affordable housing where demand may not be apparent through the traditional mechanisms.

The Scottish Government recently confirmed the Resource Planning Assumption (RPA) for the five-year period from 2021-2026 which will see up the investment being made available for the comhairle area.

This builds on the previous allocation of £25m over the past three years, which saw more 120 new homes being completed and over 150 currently in development.

The new allocation is expected to make a significant contribution to the provision of affordable homes, and to the economy.

The comhairle has met with its main delivery partner, Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP), and representatives from the contracting sector to discuss approaches to the delivery of the programme over the next period.

Councillor MacKay commented: ‘I believe innovation and flexibility will, however, be required to address the very specific housing needs in the Outer Hebrides.

‘In particular I am keen that we invest in housing that will offer young families a route onto the housing ladder; that will bring empty and under-utilised properties back into productive use and that will help provide new homes around emerging business opportunities.

‘I am keen that we find a way to invest in some of our more peripheral communities where demand may not be apparent through the traditional mechanisms of assessing demand.

‘I am hopeful that the Scottish Government will allow us this flexibility and we will be developing some new approaches and pilots to present to the minister over the next weeks.’

Councillor Kenny John MacLeod, chairman of the Communities and Housing Committee, added: ‘The recent announcement of £43m for the Outer Hebrides is excellent news that has the potential to deliver significant numbers of new affordable homes over the next five years.

‘The meeting with HHP and the contracting sector was positive about the investment opportunities ahead and there is good commitment to deliver on the opportunity.

‘All parties believe, however, that a more flexible approach will be essential to ensure the full £43m allocation is utilised.

‘A range of ideas were discussed at the meetings and we will be collating and further developing these to discuss with the Scottish Government.’