Five year Draft Strategic Housing Plan approved
4th November 2020
The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee has approved a draft Strategic Housing Plan for 2021-2026 that sets out The Council's key housing investment priorities and demonstrates how they will be delivered for development across Highland.
The Plan, which will be submitted to the Scottish Government for their approval, also identifies the resources required to deliver new homes and outlines the partnership approach with housing associations and developers to achieve the Council’s commitment to providing more quality affordable housing across the Highlands.
The Plan sets out how investment in affordable housing will be directed up until 2026 with up to 500 new homes built each year, of which 70% will be for affordable rent and 30% for intermediate affordable housing (e.g. low-cost home ownership or mid-market rent)
Funding will come from a mix of City Region Deal cash, Highland Council prudential borrowing and grants from the Scottish Government.
Chair of the Committee, Councillor Trish Robertson said: "Our investment in housing is helping to support jobs in the building industry and also providing people and families with access to good quality, affordable homes where they can be safe and warm. I am pleased that the Committee have approved this draft strategic plan as we need a clear and workable way to see our ambitions turn into reality over the next five years.
"Housing is and will remain a priority for the Council. The Plan lays out our go-getting goal and I am confident that over the next five years we will reach the target thanks to the effective and productive partnership approach we have developed with the Scottish Government, Housing Associations and the private sector."
She added: “In our wider enabling role, we will continue to work to bringing forward sites we own for re-development and work with the private sector to unlock the constraints for other strategic sites throughout the Highlands, using or own Landbank Fund, the Scottish Government Infrastructure Loan Fund and any other funding opportunities that become available."
The next item on the agenda was relevant to the creation of more affordable homes as the Committee gave their support to officers continue work to secure a compulsory purchase order for the derelict Struan Hotel in Carrbridge under Sections 9 and 10 of the Housing (Scotland) Act, with the aim of developing the land into affordable housing for the benefit of the community.
The Head of Development and Regeneration will report back to committee should there be a problem with the CPO moving forward.
The Highland Council has welcomed clarification from the Scottish Government that hotels are eligible for the Business Restriction Grant. As hotel restaurants and bars follow the same rules as other restaurants and bars with last entry at 21:30 and closure by 22:30, they have now been included as eligible businesses to receive grant from this scheme.
Members of The Highland Council's City of Inverness Area Committee have today agreed a proposed £4,786,000 investment in council housing for 2021-22. The one-year Inverness Area Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Capital Programme is part of the Highland wide HRA Capital Plan for 2021-22 which will see over £15m invested in improving the housing stock across the region.
The Leader of The Highland Council Margaret Davidson and Chair of the Brexit Working Group Jimmy Gray welcomed the Scottish Government's position paper on the replacement for European Structural Investment Funds. This paper was as a result of a wide consultation process in which the Highlands & Islands made a significant contribution towards.
The category B listed suspension Infirmary footbridge in Inverness which traverses the River Ness between Ness Walk and Ness Bank may need to close for public safety until The Highland Council considers and secures funding for necessary repairs. This was the message that the Council's Roads Operations Manager, John Taylor informed Members of the City of Inverness Area Committee this week.
A new useful guide has been produced to provide people across the Highlands with information and advice on the financial and other support that is available to them. The Highland Council, along with NHS Highland Public Health, Independent Food Aid Network and the Trussell Trust, have brought a wide range of relevant financial advice and support with contact details together in a user-friendly format aimed at people who are struggling to make ends meet.
Dr Tim Allison, Director of Public Health for NHS Highland, opened today's meeting with a presentation on Covid-19, including a Highland perspective. Cllr John Finlayson, Chair of the Committee, said: "I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr Allison for his informative presentation on the virus that he delivered to Committee this morning." The presentation began by providing a brief background to Covid-19 before then providing an explanation of how the virus transmits between individuals and the presence of coronavirus in the Highland region.
At today's meeting (18 November) of the Council's Education Committee, Members were provided an update on the ongoing rollout of 1140 hours of funded ELC provision in settings across Highland. A report to the Committee outlined that of the 241 settings across the region, 202 Highland settings will be delivering 1140 hours by spring 2021.
The Highland Council is today (17 November 2020) launching a consultation giving the community until 12 March 2021 to comment on the proposed contents of the Common Good Fund Asset Register for Wick. The Highland Council does not currently hold a Common Good Fund for the former Royal Burgh of Wick.
This week, The Scottish Government has confirmed that The Highland Council area will again be placed into Protection Level One in The Scottish Government's 5 tier framework. This means our communities will for now continue to able to operate with fewer restrictions for our hospitality, retail and leisure sectors than other parts of the country.
More than 1,250 new teachers and support staff have been recruited as a result of £80 million of support announced in the summer. Education Secretary John Swinney pledged the ring-fenced package of funding to help local authorities' recruitment for the re-opening of schools.