Dundee City Council pledges to build 600 new homes

John Alexander
John Alexander

Tens of millions of pounds worth of new homes are to be built in Dundee in a bid to tackle the city’s housing crisis.

With more than 7,000 people in the city waiting to be rehoused, the city’s housing chief said Dundee City Council had used “outside of the box” thinking to invest in its new-build programme.

John Alexander, convener of the council’s neighbourhood services committee, confirmed the council is set to spend millions of pounds and deliver hundreds of new houses in the next three years.

He told the Evening Telegraph: “Up to the year 2020, Dundee will see investment of more than £65 million and the delivery of more than 600 new affordable properties — although I am working towards making that figure even higher.

“Building brand new, energy-efficient housing in Dundee is a key priority. The first council houses in more than two decades were completed by our administration in 2012 and we are continuing with that programme of investment.

“Our share of funding has increased recently thanks to an uplift from the Scottish Government — from £6.3m to £10.6m in 2016/17 alone — and we will spend every penny of that on delivering for people in Dundee.

“Many people have said that we should build even more than our target number and whilst I share that ambition, people should also understand that any additional money used for building housing will be paid for by the current tenants. To increase funding for housing would likely need a slight increase in rents — so we’ve got to get the balance right and be aware of the financial constraints facing many people.

“That said, as part of our annual rent consultation in previous years, we have done just that – increasing resources for new-build.

“I’m particularly proud that tenants previously backed an increase of £1.5m in the new-build programme specifically for wheelchair accessible housing.

“That shows it can be done and that tenants, generally, want to see more housing built in Dundee and are willing to pay a little extra. We know there is a high demand for affordable housing in the city with more than 7,000 people across the council and the housing associations awaiting a move. That is why we have used some innovative and ‘outside of the box’ thinking in recent years to get millions more pounds of investment into our new-build programme.

“One example of that is our use of the Fleming Trust, a near 100-year-old trust administered by the council, which provides housing in the Fleming Gardens area — £2m of extra investment will be realised by using the trust as a funding vehicle.”

Mr Alexander recently had a meeting with local government and housing minister Kevin Stewart.

Mr Alexander said: “We discussed a number of issues including the availability of land, the amount of funding available, the need to be bolder and more ambitious with house building programmes and getting flexibility into the system. We agreed that should more funding become available, Dundee would be well placed to make good use of it.

“This year alone, between the council and our housing association partners, development will start on more than 250 properties across Dundee.

“That is real investment and a huge step forward for some of the areas set to benefit. During 2016/17, development will start on 81 properties at Alexander Street, 60 new properties at Fintry Drive, and 40 new properties at Mill o’ Mains.”

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