Aberdeen approves new housing strategy and affordable home investment plans

Councillor Sandra Macdonald at the site of a new affordable housing development

Aberdeen City Council has agreed funding plans for hundreds of affordable housing over the next five years and has also mapped out priorities and actions on housing supply, homelessness, housing support and fuel poverty.

The Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) for the period 2019-24 will now be submitted to the Scottish Government for sign off.

The SHIP reinforces the local authority as the strategic housing authority and describes the funding mechanisms that will deliver good quality homes that meets residents’ needs under the newly-adopted Local Housing Strategy (LHS).

Aberdeen’s LHS identifies an affordable housing target of at least 342-384 properties every year.

The SHIP demonstrates when and where Aberdeen City Council and its partners intend to deliver dwellings and will be updated in response to any opportunities that arise from discussions with and registered social landlords (RSLs) and housebuilders.

Overall the SHIP currently shows the potential to deliver 2,037 units in the next five years from grant funded development by the council and RSLs.

These include a mix of social rent (1,473), mid-market rent (529) and low-cost home ownership (35).

The predicted spend is £18.133 million in 2019/20 and then £19.436m for the following four years – a total investment of £96m.

In 2017/2018 there were 367 affordable housing completions offering mix of tenures including social rent, mid-market rent and low-cost ownership. Locations included Dubford, Middlefield, Countesswells, Milltimber and Cove.

A projected 410 units will be completed in 2018/2019.

Aberdeen City Council has made a commitment to build a further 2,000 council homes for social rent over the next five years.

The committee approved the allocation of £13.4m of Section 75 agreement monies – contributions made by developers – and from Council Tax income on second homes for the council house new build programme.

Meanwhile the Aberdeen City Local Housing Strategy 2018-2023 was approved this week at the city growth and resources committee.

The committee backed the strategy’s vision of residents living “in good quality sustainable homes, which they can afford and that meet their needs”.

Councillor Sandra Macdonald, housing spokesperson, said the strategy – the city’s third – would ensure citizens continued to “feel safe, supported and included”.

Cllr Macdonald said: “The new local housing strategy builds on the previous successes and achievements over the last ten years.

“It comes at a time of significant change for the council as we face substantial reductions in funding as well as ongoing uncertainty from welfare reform that affect the lives of many local people.

“At the same time, we need to meet the needs of an increasingly elderly population, as well as the continued need to address homelessness and fuel poverty.

“Despite these challenges we believe the local housing strategy can and will help deliver real improvements to people’s lives.”

The strategy was developed with Registered Social Landlords, service providers and statutory bodies in response to a comprehensive assessment of housing need and demand.

The key outcomes are:

  • There is an adequate supply of housing across all tenures and homes are the right size, type and location that people want to live in with access to suitable services and facilities.
  • Homelessness is prevented and alleviated.
  • People are supported to live, as far as is reasonably practicable, independently at home or in a homely setting in their community.
  • Consumer knowledge, management standards and property condition are improved in the private rented sector.
  • Fuel poverty is reduced which will contribute to meeting climate change targets.
  • The quality of housing of all tenures is improved across the city.

Measures include providing advice to empty property owners to bring dwellings back into use; reducing homelessness through social letting; ensuring 15% of new affordable housing is accessible for people with a particular need; continuing to expand the District Heating Network; and assisting the private sector in repairing and maintaining properties.