Housing vision needed for Lochaber to thrive says Chamber CEO

Housing needs are on the agenda at Lochaber Chamber of Commerce.

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The chief executive of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce is calling on all housing sectors to demonstrate ‘vision’ and work towards building a better future for those wishing to live and work in the area.

Writing in this week’s Monday Morning Brief, issued by the Chamber, Frazer Coupland acknowledged that the past 18 months had been difficult for everyone but that issues on the political agenda, including housing, hadn’t gone away.

‘If anything they have grown worse over the past year and a half as the world’s attention focused on dealing with the pandemic,’ he added.

In a housing needs survey conducted by the local chamber in 2021 it was highlighted that a lack of housing was the most common reason given by applicants who turn down a job offer in Lochaber. 62% of businesses who had offered a job to an individual said that housing/ accommodation was the most common issue for potential candidates deciding not to take the role.

‘Housing need is not a singular issue that can be determined simply by crunching numbers,’ continued Mr Coupland.

‘It is a complex issue which is informed by data which inevitably will vary from area to area and what demand is currently being met by what housing sectors.

‘A crucial part of tackling our housing crisis is ensuring that local agencies are given both more resources and more freedom to use them.

‘One of the main objectives of this Chamber is to ensure that Lochaber is a good place to do business.’

Mr Coupland pledged that the Chamber would continue to do all it could to persuade decision-makers in local and central governments to learn these lessons, follow best practice, use dynamic thinking and demonstrate that the community know better what the need is rather than any centralised body.

‘Building back better after the pandemic, levelling up, and building the green economy means, in part, the building of more houses that working people in our community can afford and in turn will encourage them to remain in Lochaber,’ he concluded.

‘This in turn will enable the businesses who are desperate to invest to have the confidence that Lochaber is a good place to do business.

‘Our communities need public services, our businesses need people and they need the people living close enough to do their jobs. We need real vision now.

‘Lochaber needs investment in a new generation of council housing, at scale, that is at the heart of solving the crisis in affordable homes to rent.

‘This will mean leveraging capital investment levels not seen before, a delivery strategy that pulls together the materials, suppliers, land and skills needed to get homes built at the scale needed across Lochaber.’

Anyone wishing to discuss the matter of housing further with the Chamber can do so by emailing ceo@lochaberchamber.co.uk