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£1m affordable homes support for Highlands welcomed by Green MSP Ariane Burgess

By Philip Murray

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Ariane Burgess in Strontian with Jamie Macintyre to discuss house building projects.
Ariane Burgess in Strontian with Jamie Macintyre to discuss house building projects.

ALMOST £1 million is to be spent supporting groups that are working to boost numbers of affordable homes and community facilities in the Highlands and Islands.

A three-year package of support and funding worth more than £960,000 has been announced by the Scottish Government.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan made the announcement during a visit to Auchtercairn development in Gairloch, Wester Ross, where Communities Housing Trust, together with Albyn Housing Association and Highland Council, have delivered a mix of 25 affordable homes, shops, a café, tourism hub, and education, community and commercial facilities.

And the move, which hopes to help rural communities create more homes that local people can afford, has been welcomed by Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess.

Ms Burgess, who represents the Highlands and Islands, said: “It’s really difficult to get new, affordable homes built in rural Scotland – land is expensive, there are restrictions on development and it costs more to get materials and tradespeople on site – but we know a lack of affordable homes makes it hard for young people to stay in or move to rural Scotland.

“Communities are coming up with their own solutions – building affordable, high-quality housing on a small scale.

“They get amazing support from organisations like the Communities Housing Trust and South of Scotland Community Housing but those rural housing enablers need reliable, ongoing funding.

“Scotland can do so much more to help this sector grow and thrive. The Communities Housing Trust alone has 600 new homes in its pipeline across 150 communities.

“I’ve seen for myself the huge difference just a few homes can make to small communities; supporting local businesses, bolstering the Gàidhealtachd and keeping small schools open.

“Community-led housing is essential to helping the communities I represent in the Highlands & Islands thrive.

“Good, well-designed housing in the right place can drive rural repopulation, create jobs and sustain local business and communities.

“Community-Led Housing has the potential to transform how rural Scotland develops – keeping wealth in the local economy and creating homes for the people we need to work in growing sectors like nature restoration, sustainable forestry and climate adaptation.”

The Scottish Government funding meets a commitment in the Bute House Agreement to ensure community housing trusts are adequately funded so they can support the delivery of rural homes.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Community housing trusts play an essential role in supporting the delivery of affordable homes in rural and island areas. This development is a great example of how community-led organisations can build homes that meet the needs of local people.

“That is why I am pleased the Scottish Government is providing new funding for these organisations, provided in partnership with the Nationwide Foundation.

“Good quality housing is essential to attract and retain people in remote, rural and island communities and the Scottish Government has committed to delivering 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 – with at least 10% in remote, rural and island areas.

“We are providing support of up to £30 million over this parliament through our Rural and Island Housing Fund. We are also developing a Remote, Rural and Islands Housing Action Plan, to be published in autumn.”

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