At the start of lockdown we were approaching the end of financial year 2019/20, so it is worth reflecting on the success of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme and the volume of new homes completed, and acknowledging the work that was undertaken by partners to get to that point in the Programme.
On 31 March 2020, there were 158 houses under construction across 11 sites, and HHP delivered a record amount of investment in new homes, with £11.4m being spent, of which £8.3m is Scottish Government grant. To date, 91 homes have been completed and we would like to thank all development partners – HHP, TIG & Scottish Government – for continued work and support to enable this significant boost to our housing stock and economy.
In March, work on all affordable housing projects stopped with the commencement of lockdown, and as we approach the last quarter of a very challenging year, it is encouraging to see the work currently on the ground throughout the islands. With relevant social distancing and safety measures in place, works were able to recommence at the end of June and despite the delay, good progress is now being made once again.
Whilst the Goathill development remains a large part of our overall programme owing to the scale and dual housing and care nature of the project, we remain committed to rural development and making more homes available within rural communities throughout the Outer Hebrides. Of the 11 developments with updates below, 8 are in rural locations. We are happy to report that 4 homes in Tolsta, and 10 homes in Breasclete (including 4 New Supply Shared Equity homes), were handed over earlier in October, and this gives a mix of options for locals who want to remain living in their community.
In terms of further rural development, planning permission has been submitted for 4 homes in Howmore, South Uist; land is in the process of being acquired in Barra and an invitation to tender has issued; a site is also being acquired in South Dell, Ness, with planning already in place; and decrofting work has to be carried out on a site in Barvas with a view to building 8 homes there.
Feasibility studies have been carried out on sites at Scott Road, Tarbert, in Keose Glebe, and in Benbecula. Developers have also submitted proposals for a number of sites. Funding for developments is provided by HHP and the Scottish Government and financially supported by the Comhairle where costs have been challenging.
Current and recent works are updated below, with pictures of various developments:
- Breasclete, Lewis – 10 homes (4 NSSE), handover took place October 2020;
- Cnoc a’Runaire, Tolsta, Lewis – 4 homes, handover took place October 2020;
- Winfield Close, Benbecula – 1 home, expected handover November 2020;
- Torlum, Benbecula – 2 homes, expected handover November 2020;
- Garrynamonie, South Uist – 5 homes, expected handover December 2020;
- Scotland Street, Stornoway – 6 homes, (expected handover December 2020;
- MacKenzie Avenue, Stornoway – 2 homes , expected handover October 2020;
- Shawbost, Lewis – 4 homes, expected handover February 2021;
- Tarbert Police Station, Harris – 8 homes, expected handover summer 2021;
- Sinclair Avenue, Stornoway (Goathill) – 74 homes (16 NSSE), expected handover March 2021;
- Bremner Court, Stornoway (Goathill) – 50 Houses with Extra Care homes, works are ongoing; and
- Garrabost Care Unit – 2 homes, expected handover January 2021.
Sinclair Avenue was the name agreed for the Affordable Housing element of the Goathill development, named after a tenant farmer and engineer at the turn of the 18th century who was responsible for the construction of the Barvas Road.
The Housing with Extra Care element of the development, has been named after the late Mairi Bremner, a serving HHP Board Member and well known former Councillor, who dedicated many years of her life to public service in our islands. Mairi was particularly committed to ensuring that all people in our communities should have access to affordable and comfortable homes that suited their needs, at every stage of their lives. This is a fitting tribute to her considerable legacy.
The two photographs below show the progress that has been made on the former Lady Matheson’s Female Industrial School – latterly the home of Duncan “Major” Morrison – on the corner of Scotland Street and Keith Street. The transformation is quite remarkable – all credit to Lewis Builders. There are 6 flats in the development and we look forward to seeing them become homes in the not too distant future.
Shared Equity sales have now recommenced in accordance with Scottish Government guidelines, so please contact HHP – details below – if you are interested in viewing one of the available homes in Horgabost, Isle of Harris, Breasclete, Isle of Lewis, or MacKenzie Avenue, Stornoway. Some more information on affordable housing may be found at the links below.
Kenny John MacLeod, Chair of Communities and Housing Committee, said: “It has been great to see development work recommencing with additional safety measures in place, and it is particularly good to see the volume of building work throughout the islands, which will give a considerable and much needed boost to our economy in these difficult times. During lockdown the value of a home became even more apparent to us, when we found ourselves confined to them for most of our day. We also discovered that many people viewed the Outer Hebrides in a very different light, when the quality of life and community we have here made lockdown a more bearable experience.
We cannot underestimate how fortunate we are to live here, and how much good quality, affordable housing can contribute on one hand, to our overall wellbeing, and on another, to supporting our local economy. I would like to pay tribute to all development partners and sincerely thank the various trades for regrouping quickly once works were allowed to recommence, and getting the Development Programme back on track to support our economic recovery.”
Iain MacMillan, HHP Chair, commented:
“It has been a challenging programme to achieve and particularly in the context of COVID-19. All involved have risen to the challenge to deliver the housing needed in our communities and have delivered, or are working to deliver, housing across all our islands and continue to work creating opportunities for our people.”
Shared Equity enquiries to HHP: firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 0300 123 0773
Pairc, Niseaboist, Horgabost :