Work starts on first design and build contract for LAR Housing Trust

(from left) Kevin Reid, managing director of The Cruden Group; housing minister Kevin Stewart and LAR chair Andrew Robertson

(from left) Kevin Reid, managing director of The Cruden Group; housing minister Kevin Stewart and LAR chair Andrew Robertson

The chair of a housing charity is hailing the start of construction at an East Lothian site as an important milestone for the organisation.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart was on hand as work got underway at LAR’s site in Cockenzie, its first design and build contract.

LAR chair, Andrew Robertson, described the development of 26 homes as a game changer for the charity, which was formed two years ago to provide 1,000 properties at mid market rent across Scotland.

He said: “Up to this point we have bought turnkey properties or homes under construction. This is the first chance we have had to be involved from the outset to influence the design and build of the development.

“We have a superb site at Cockenzie with fantastic harbour views and we look forward to improving the local environment and providing much sought-after new homes.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Our initial investment of £55 million in LAR Housing Trust has already delivered much needed affordable housing across Scotland, as well as enabling them to secure a further £65m of institutional investment from Scottish Widows and HBOS, towards its delivery plans of 1,000 mid-market rent homes.

“I’m also delighted to see LAR is progressing with its own construction of 26 affordable homes on site in Cockenzie, using the combined public/private investment package of £120m.

“Working innovatively with partners like LAR is a great example of how our ‘More Homes Scotland’ initiative is working towards its target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes for Scotland during the lifetime of this Parliament.”

The development consists of four one-bed and 22 two-bed apartments and is being built by Hart Builders, part of The Cruden Group. It is the first contract to be called off from LAR’s £5m building framework.

Colin Macdonald, Hart’s managing director, said: “Hart Builders are delighted to be taking forward LAR’s first design and build project and demonstrating the benefits of early contractor engagement and partnership working. It’s a challenging project but is progressing at pace and we look forward to enhancing Cockenzie’s heritage with highly efficient new homes which residents can enjoy and hopefully take full advantage of their seaside location.”

The development has been welcomed by East Lothian Council and Councillor Jim Goodfellow, cabinet spokesperson for housing and community wellbeing, said: “This new development of homes is good news for Cockenzie, as well as the wider East Lothian community. These homes, which will be for mid-market rent, will provide more much-needed affordable housing in the county, and we look forward to seeing its completion.”

The development, which should be ready for tenants by late summer 2018, has already piqued the interest of the local community, with a number of people expressing an interest to rent one of the apartments when they are completed.