Council accused of failing to insist on affordable housing contributions

Councillor Stephen Flynn
Councillor Stephen Flynn

Aberdeen City Council could have missed out on more than 1,200 affordable homes by not applying developer contributions to student flat builders, it has been claimed.

The council’s SNP group leader Stephen Flynn has alleged that by skipping the rules for these developers, around 1,235 affordable homes have been lost potentially amounting to £30,875,000 in stock.

Developers have built large amounts of student housing in recent years although the city has faced a long-running challenge in attracting public sector staff due to the high cost of living.

But, according to Councillor Flynn, the council has not insisted on affordable housing contributions to be added to student schemes.

Since 2012, applications have been granted for 2,403 student bed spaces with applications for another 2,537 in the planning pipeline.

Had the council insisted on the usual component of 25 per cent then up to 1,235 affordable homes could have been built or a payment made to the council for them to build affordable housing elsewhere.

Councillor Stephen Flynn told the Press & Journal: “Aberdonians have been desperate for new affordable homes and we know that key workers like nurses, teachers, social workers and even doctors have had to leave the city due to the housing shortages.

“Many local residents around these student developments have long suspected something was afoot when there was a glut of applications for student housing around the turn of the year.”

Flynn said the council had “opened the door to huge private sector development without any residual benefit to the people of this city”.

He added: “This money could have made a massive, lasting, difference to Aberdeen and immediate action must be taken to rectify this situation.”

Finance convener Willie Young defended the council’s record and branded the claims “false and wild”.

He said: “These false and wild claims strike at the heart of the competency of Aberdeen City Council’s officers who are charged by the council to obtain best value for the city. I am really disappointed that Councillor Flynn and the SNP have attacked our officers by suggesting that they have not applied developers contributions the right way.

“At each and every planning meeting it is up to individual councillors to agree or otherwise the recommendations in front of them, and surprise, surprise on each occasion not one SNP councillor asked for further additional developers contributions to be added to that already being received.

“The truth is the SNP must contact the Monitoring Officer and Audit Scotland and ask for an investigation into these claims or as I would prefer apologise profusely to our officers for the unjust political kicking that they have just given them.”

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