Time to build af­ford­able homes for lo­cal peo­ple

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - Comment -

Sir, - Your ar­ti­cle about the hous­ing cri­sis in Perth and Kin­ross (July 11) is in­ac­cu­rate.

The re­port was driven by Nicola Bar­clay, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Homes for Scot­land, a trade body with a vested in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing land and plan­ning per­mis­sion for the land.

I would like to point out that the only hous­ing cri­sis in this area is from a short­age of af­ford­able houses.

There is enough land in the area with plan­ning con­sent to al­low the county to grow at a sus­tain­able level.

The de­vel­op­ers just need to build the houses at prices lo­cal peo­ple can af­ford.

Wages in Perth and Kin­ross are 7% be­low the na­tional av­er­age, lo­cal in­dus­try seems to be con­tract­ing, with no word of any ma­jor in­vest­ment.

So where are the jobs that go with these houses?

There is prob­a­bly per­mis­sion to build more than 10,000 new houses within a 15-mile ra­dius of Perth.

The cri­sis is in small com­mu­ni­ties be­ing over­whelmed by ma­jor de­vel­op­ments, while young cou­ples both work­ing on min­i­mum wage still can’t af­ford a home.

If there was a de­mand for houses the new vil­lage at Ou­denarde be­tween Bridge of Earn and Aber­nethy would be be­ing built.

In Auchter­arder, two of the three large de­vel­op­ers have sold more houses to hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions than pri­vately in the last 12 months.

Some of these houses were orig­i­nally mar­keted as pri­vate houses, but when they didn’t sell were sold as so­cial hous­ing.

As for the ben­e­fits the new hous­ing brings – it can bring some, but it can also bring dis­ad­van­tages.

The prom­ises of new play parks, sports fa­cil­i­ties, new roads, no dis­rup­tion to ex­ist­ing res­i­dents and en­hanc­ing lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties – all part of the orig­i­nal plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion and con­sul­ta­tion with ex­ist­ing res­i­dents, are omit­ted by the time con­struc­tion starts.

Changes are made be­hind closed doors, so even if you agree with the new houses as lo­cal ser­vices are be­ing im­proved, there is lit­tle chance of the im­prove­ments hap­pen­ing un­less they are there be­fore the houses are built.

These de­vel­op­ers also bring their con­trac­tors with them – they do not cre­ate lo­cal jobs.

In­creased coun­cil tax rev­enues also brings in­creased costs, so the ben­e­fits are min­i­mal and when the coun­cil seems hell­bent on wast­ing money on daft ideas, giv­ing them ac­cess to more money is pure folly.

When the coun­cil starts try­ing to at­tract qual­ity jobs to the area, that could push up wages.

When the coun­cil spends money on in­fra­struc­ture, that will en­hance the area for ex­ist­ing and new res­i­dents, mak­ing the area a bet­ter place in which to live and work.

Lots of peo­ple would like to live and work in the county.

The num­ber of new houses pro­posed, with no new in­fra­struc­ture and jobs, means these new res­i­dents will only be sleep­ing here.

The cur­rent coun­cil plan seems to want to kill the town of Perth and then suf­fo­cate the rest of the county with new houses.

George Mailer. 16 Hunter Street, Auchter­arder.

Pic­ture: Getty Images.

Many de­vel­op­ers bring their own con­trac­tors from out­side the area.

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