New Homes at Balvonie Braes
Finance Secretary John Swinney has announced a deal to deliver new affordable homes for rent in Inverness, providing a boost to the local construction sector and wider economy.
The deal, for nine new homes at Balvonie Braes, is being delivered by Albyn Housing Society through the Scottish Government’s innovative National Housing Trust (NHT) initiative.
This will bring the total number of NHT homes in the Highlands to over 175. Almost 100 of these homes are already complete, with households settled in their new, high quality NHT homes.
It is estimated that the NHT in the Highlands is unlocking around £24 million in housing development, and supporting approximately 225 jobs.
When complete, the homes at Balvonie Braes will be available for rent at mid-market rates for a minimum of five years.
The Society has paved new ground by being the first registered social landlord to benefit from signing a Scottish Government guarantee, representing a further evolution of the NHT initiative.
Announcing the deal at the Convention of Highlands and Islands in Inverness today, Mr Swinney said: “This deal for new affordable homes for rent in Inverness brings the total number of homes delivered under NHT in the Highlands to over 175, and provides a further boost to the local construction sector, which is already benefiting from our support for affordable housing development.
“The Scottish Government’s total investment in affordable housing across the Highlands and Islands in 2015-16 will amount to almost £30 million, with the Highlands receiving over £16 million of this total. This comes on top of the £63 million investment across the Highlands and Islands in the period 2012-13 to 2014-15.
“Not only is this investment helping support jobs, but it is also providing people and families with access to good quality, affordable homes where they can be safe and warm.
“Housing is and will remain a priority for this Government and we will continue to invest in new affordable homes. Despite the severe cuts to our budgets by the UK Government we are committed to supporting house building across Scotland and delivering our target of 30,000 new, affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament.”
Douglas Russell, Chair of Albyn Housing Society, stated: “Albyn is pleased to be at the forefront of delivering new models of affordable housing supply, once again. There is huge demand for housing in Inverness at all tiers of the market, and by developing new and innovative schemes such as the NHT initiative we can assist more people to secure quality affordable accommodation and make the next steps towards home ownership.
“This £1 million project at Balvonie Braes will also provide a welcome boost to the region’s construction industry by employing local contractors. At Albyn Housing Society we aim to build strong communities, not just quality homes, and by supporting local jobs the project will bring benefit to the local community, even before we hand the keys over later next year.”
Councillor Thomas Prag, Chair of The Highland Council’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee, said:
“We congratulate Albyn in becoming the first housing association to be landlords within the National Housing Trust initiative. This programme, which has helped us meet at least some of the demand for new housing within the Highlands, is a real help for those looking to rent decent, affordable accommodation and complements the rest of the work we are doing to increase the housing stock in Inverness and other areas of the Highlands.”
Christa Reekie, Commercial Director at SFT, stated: “The strong partnership and working relationships that are being created among Scottish Government, SFT, councils and house builders right across Scotland are crucial to the continued success of the NHT programme. The NHT initiative is helping safeguard vital jobs at numerous building sites across Scotland, whilst ensuring a supply of properties at affordable rent for people who would spend a disproportionate part of their income in the private sector rental market.”
Under the original model, developed by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Futures Trust, tenants will be given the opportunity to buy at the end of the rental period. All versions of the initiative are backed by a Scottish Government guarantee.
Further information about the initiative can be found at: www.scotland.gov.uk/nht