Borders councillors approve plans to build almost 1,200 affordable homes

Scottish Borders CouncilPlans to invest £163 million into building almost 1,200 affordable homes in the Scottish Borders have been approved by councillors.

However, it came with a warning that the construction sector would have to be worked with closely in order to see the plans delivered.

The new five-year Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) identifies how local housing needs and priorities will be addressed, including which housing projects are anticipated to be delivered by 2022.

With between £8.6m – £15m potentially available via the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing Supply Programme, along with private sector borrowing by registered social landlords including Eildon Housing, it is estimated almost 1,200 new affordable homes could be built.

The draft Local Housing Strategy 2017-2022 estimates 348 new houses should be delivered each year in the Scottish Borders, 128 of which should be affordable. In the first two years of the new SHIP, 449 affordable homes are estimated for delivery across the Scottish Borders, including Kelso, Lilliesleaf, Duns, Eyemouth and Oxton.

Ron Smith, who chairs the council’s planning committee, said a good pace had been set with building in the region to meet national targets.

“What you have is a challenging programme - certainly it matches with the Scottish government’s demands of 50,000 houses,” he said.

“We are happy to play our part in delivering that.

“It gives us challenges but there is the knock-on effect on local industry by providing jobs, there is the knock-on effect in consolidating local services - it is a case of what’s not to like?”

Councillor Stuart Bell put forward an amendment asking that local firms be consulted as soon possible and it was accepted.

“I think this is an ambitious programme and I welcome the fact that we are looking to more than double the target for affordable build in the Scottish Borders,” he said.

“The challenge for us is to get the right co-operation with the housing construction sector in order for it to be achieved.

“You don’t double the number of houses that you’re building in short order.

“My amendment was requesting that there is rapid engagement with the construction sector to ensure the best possibility of these ambitious targets being fulfilled.”

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