Door opens on coun­cil house re­turn to Ar­ran

Af­ford­able homes boost for Brod­ick

The Arran Banner - - Front Page - Hugh Boag ed­i­tor@ar­ran­ban­ner.co.uk

Nearly 50 af­ford­able homes are to be built on Ar­ran in the next four years, it was re­vealed this week.

Work will start as early as next sum­mer on 26 new coun­cil houses, the first to be built on the is­land for more than 30 years.

They are to be built on coun­cil-owned land be­hind Brath­wic Ter­race in Brod­ick. A fur­ther 20 houses are planned by the Trust Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion at nearby Spring­bank Farm due for com­ple­tion in 2020/21. A new road will also be cre­ated giv­ing a two-way ac­cess to the whole Spring­bank area.

The moves have been wel­comed by the Ar­ran Eco­nomic Group, which sees more so­cial hous­ing as vi­tal to the fu­ture pros­per­ity of the is­land.

As part of its re­cent wide-rang­ing re­port, high­lighted by the Ban­ner back in Au­gust, it found that Ar­ran was the sec­ond-most dif­fi­cult place in the UK after Lon­don to ac­cess af­ford­able hous­ing.

The study showed that Ar­ran’s hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity ra­tio – based on an av­er­age salary of £24,000 – is ranked as 8.2 while Lon­don stands at 10.4. The av­er­age fig­ure for the UK is 5.3 while the av­er­age in Scot­land is 3.3.

There are ap­prox­i­mately 2,100 house­holds on Ar­ran, yet only about 16 per cent – 342 – are so­cial hous­ing prop­er­ties, op­er­ated by the Trust Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion

and there are presently no coun­cil houses. In­deed, the ma­jor­ity of prop­er­ties on the is­land are pri­vately owned, with 22 per cent of these classed as sec­ond homes – mean­ing a lack of af­ford­able hous­ing is avail­able.

North Ayr­shire Coun­cil leader Joe Cul­li­nane said the coun­cil is de­ter­mined to make more af­ford­able hous­ing avail­able and is work­ing with Ar­ran Eco­nomic Group to achieve that aim.

He said: ‘Last year, we in­creased our com­mit­ment to new coun­cil hous­ing by in­creas­ing the num­ber of new homes from 500 to 750. Now we have in­creased that fur­ther and are pledg­ing to build 1,000 new homes across North Ayr­shire by 2022.

‘We know Ar­ran faces unique is­sues with a real lack of so­cial hous­ing and these new prop­er­ties in Brod­ick will be one of the first steps taken to help ad­dress that.’

Tom Tracey, chair­man of Ar­ran Eco­nomic Group, said: ‘We have been work­ing along­side North Ayr­shire Coun­cil to de­velop plans to ad­dress this crit­i­cal is­sue and we’re de­lighted that the coun­cil is com­mit­ted to new so­cial hous­ing on Ar­ran.

‘Our work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to de­cline by about 47 per cent by 2025. To be clear, we have jobs avail­able across all sec­tors but few can­di­dates to fill them. One of the pri­mary rea­sons we are un­able to at­tract or re­tain em­ploy­ees is the short­age of low-cost per­ma­nent ac­com­mo­da­tion.’

As a re­sult, the coun­cil will also work along­side AEG to ex­plore grant fund­ing which would be the cat­a­lyst for bring­ing empty homes on the is­land back into use. It is es­ti­mated that there are cur­rently about 75 prop­er­ties deemed empty for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. In ad­di­tion, both the coun­cil and eco­nomic group will be jointly ex­am­in­ing other low-cost home own­er­ship mod­els.

How­ever, the new Brath­wic Ter­race de­vel­op­ment is a blow to one res­i­dent. Rob­bie Brown has, over many years, ex­tended his im­pres­sive gar­den onto the site to be be­hind his home. Coun­cil of­fi­cials con­firmed this week that the ex­tra ground will be re­claimed when the de­vel­op­ment starts.

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The fu­ture hous­ing site be­hind Spring­bank Farm.

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The site above Brod­ick where 26 new coun­cil houses will be built.

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