Lochaber Housing Association pausing new Caol homes to review appeal findings

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Lochaber Housing Association (LHA) says it does not intend to progress its proposed 18-home new development at Glenkingie Terrace in Caol until it has reviewed the findings in a recent statement by the Scottish Government Reporter concerning the controversial project.

The Lochaber Times recently reported on the decision by Reporter Trevor Croft to uphold the LHA’s appeal against the refusal of its planning application by Highland Council planning committee.

LHA also proposes to have further consultation with the community council and the wider community to discuss future development at the site.

In an update on its current development programme, LHA states: ‘The Reporter, appointed by the Scottish Government, subsequently found in favour of the appeal, subject to 14 conditions and the planning permission will lapse on the expiration of a period of three years from the date of the decision notice.

‘The findings verify that the association did work to resolve the issues highlighted by objectors and that the remaining concerns are not considered ‘material’ by the Reporter.

‘However, the association does not intend to progress the development until it
has had the opportunity to review the findings in the statement made by the Reporter and proposes to have further consultation with the community council and the wider community to discuss future development at the site.’

The statement also references how difficult the past 18 months of the pandemic have been, bringing with it many different challenges. One of these is a reduction in the number of affordable homes built in Scotland during 2020 due to the impact of lockdown. The number of housing association completions was down overall by 33 per cent.

The Scottish Government has set out in its Housing to 2040 vision on its ambition for ‘everyone to have a safe, good quality and affordable home that meets their needs in the place they want to be’.

LHA says in line with that vision, it is pleased to report it has recently repurposed the former Highland Council offices at Fulton House, in Fort William’s Gordon Square, into 12 new one and two-bed properties.

LHA has also completed 20 flats at Tigh Aran, at Spean Bridge, but says that, ‘frustratingly’, the handover to the new tenants has been significantly delayed due to complexities and challenges around gaining consents for services and roads.

‘This is extremely disappointing and inconvenient for our prospective tenants and every effort is being made by our contractor, consultants and agencies involved to resolve the situation,’ said the LHA.

The association said recognising the increase in housing demand locally and the difficulty for essential workers to secure accommodation in Lochaber, it has approached various partners, such as Police Scotland and NHS Highland, to discuss the provision of housing options for permanent and temporary staff in Lochaber.

The association is now considering models of provision such as market rents, low-cost home ownership, management of accommodation and leasing of properties and will be discussing with local employers on how it can best develop and deliver these options.

An example LHA gives of how the association says it is being progressive in its delivery of housing in Lochaber is the establishment of a joint working arrangement in 2019 with the Link Group to develop a 23-acre site at Upper Achintore, Fort William.

The site will be developed by Link in a series of phases with the first phase providing 19 units for mid-market rent, 55 for social rent and eight new supply shared equity scheme properties.

CAPTION:

How the new houses being built by Lochaber Housing Association will look.

NO F43 Caol housing