Housing strategy approved by Aberdeen City Council as affordable housing supply programme continues

Housing strategy approved by Aberdeen City Council as affordable housing supply programme continues

Aberdeen City Council has outlined the continuing progress it has made in adding more affordable housing in the city through more council housing, other social landlords and private initiatives.

Members of the council’s City Growth and Resources Committee agreed the recommendations of two reports, one with an update on affordable housing and the second on the council’s housing strategy.

The report on affordable housing said in 2021/22, there were 692 affordable housing completions - the highest number of affordable homes delivered in Aberdeen through the affordable housing supply programme. The report said 653 units being projected for completion in 2022/23.

The developers include Aberdeen City Council, Grampian Housing Association, Hillcrest, and Barratt Homes and the homes have been a mixture of social rent, mid-market rent, mortgage to rent, and low-cost home ownership.

The affordable housing report said in October 2020, the committee agreed to fund an empty homes officer post on a permanent basis using Council Tax Second Homes funds. The empty homes officer works with owners of empty residential properties to bring them back into use and since the post was created, 458 empty properties have been brought back into use.

Some of the highlights of the work carried out by the empty homes service include:

  • Continuing success with working with landlords and letting agents across the city to “match” people from council housing waiting lists with owners/letting agents of empty private rented sector properties through the council’s Matchmake to Rent Scheme. Aberdeen City Council is the only local authority in Scotland to utilise a matchmaker scheme in this way
  • Working with Aberdeen Cyrenians to bring empty homes back into use for people who may otherwise have been homeless, through their “Settled Homes for All” project which is the establishment of a social lettings’ agency
  • Working with genealogists to identify owners of residential and non-residential long-term empty properties
  • Working with Police Scotland and Scottish Fire & Rescue Service to tackle long-term empty properties and attend partnership meetings to deal with long-term empty properties which cause a blight on the community.

The committee approved a recommendation for the use of council tax second homes monies to recruit a further empty homes officer on a permanent basis to build on the success and allow resources to focus on long-term empty residential properties in the city centre which has the highest concentration of long-term empty homes in the city. This will also help support the aims of the City Centre Masterplan.

City growth and resources convener, Councillor Alex McLellan, said: “It is fantastic to hear of the good work being carried out by Aberdeen City Council and partners to increase the numbers of affordable housing homes across the city.

“The empty homes officer has carried out great work since they started in their job and a second post approved today will mean even more empty residential properties will be brought into use.”

In the separate report, the committee agreed the Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) for the period 2023/24 – 2027/28 which will now be submitted to the Scottish Government for approval.

The core purpose of the SHIP is to set out strategic investment priorities for affordable housing over a five-year period to achieve the outcomes set out in the Local Housing Strategy. The SHIP reinforces the local authority as the strategic housing authority and details how investment priorities will be delivered.

The SHIP is a realistic and practical plan which rolls forward projects identified in previous SHIPs and introduces new projects. It demonstrates how, when, and where Aberdeen City Council and its partners intend to deliver new affordable homes across the city. It also illustrates how a variety of funding mechanisms are maximised to ensure the delivery of the projects.

The report said Aberdeen City Council has a council house new build programme, where 2,000 council homes are being built for social rent and to the “gold standard” incorporating dementia-friendly design, with a minimum of 15% being delivered as fully wheelchair accessible.

The committee agreed to a recommendation that £3,077,557 from Section 75 housing - where housing developers may be required to make a financial contribution towards affordable housing rather than delivering affordable housing on the specific site - is allocated to the council house new build programme.

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