Private developer makes history with first affordable housing grant

The Carling Group development St Stephens School in Blairgowrie
The development St. Stephen’s School in Blairgowrie

Carling Property Group (CPG) has become the first private developer in the country to receive affordable housing grant aid from the Scottish Government.

The Dundee firm qualified for a “substantial” six-figure sum from the government’s Rural and Islands Housing Fund (RIHF). It is believed to be the only private property developer to have received RIHF money.

CPG has used the money to convert a former old school house in Blairgowrie into eight properties, complete with secondary glazing, new flooring, private parking and disabled access. It has also worked with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership on the project, with SEHP providing support with grant and property applications.

The new properties at the former St. Stephen’s RC Primary School mark the latest affordable housing project for CPG, which also counts student and senior housing among its ventures.

The firm is currently at work converting the former Chance Inn in Inverkeilor into affordable housing rentals.

Graeme Carling, co-founder with wife Leanne Carling of Carling Property Group, said the Blairgowrie properties were already attracting interest, proving that demand continues to be high for affordable housing across Scotland.

Graeme said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government, via its Rural and Islands Housing Fund, has supported a private developer for the first time. As we expected, there has been strong interest in the apartments. This clearly demonstrates the need for more affordable housing in the area, and in Scotland. We remain committed to helping fill this gap but, sadly for those seeking affordable accommodation, there is still much work to be done in this sector.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, which hosts the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: “The conversion of this former school is a fantastic example of how empty properties can be part of the solution to Scotland’s shortage of affordable homes. Particularly in more rural communities it can be much more cost-effective to renovate existing empty homes or convert empty non-residential buildings to housing rather than start building from scratch on a greenfield site.”

CPG’s project in Blairgowrie features seven one-bedroom and one studio apartments, with rents starting at £250 a month. The properties are being let through the Perth and Kinross Council-run PKC Lets. Priority is being given to those working in the local area, over-55s and applicants with medical needs.

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