East Ayrshire tenants favour stock improvements over new builds with rent increase vote

East Ayrshire tenants favour stock improvements over new builds with rent increase vote

East Ayrshire Council’s planned new council housing developments in New Cumnock will no longer be delivered after tenants voted the lower of two proposed rent increases.

A special Full Council meeting was held to agree that housing rent for council homes in the region will increase by 6.5% for the upcoming year, which is £5.18 a week over 52 weeks.

An extensive consultation with tenants took place between 11 December and 19 January 2024 and two proposals were presented. Proposal one was for a rent increase of 6.5% and tenants were made aware that this would mean that new homes at Mason Avenue and Castle Street, New Cumnock would not be able to go ahead. Proposal two was for an increase of 7.5% or £5.97 over 52 weeks, and this increase would help deliver the new homes within New Cumnock.

This year saw the highest number of returns for a rent consultation to date and 75.9% of those who responded chose proposal one.

Councillor Jim McMahon, spokesperson for housing, transport and communities, said: “The views of our tenants matter and shape the decisions that are taken by the council and by housing services.

“It is clear that our tenants supported proposal one and also that their priority is improving existing housing stock, with 71.7% of tenants stating this was their top priority. The rent increase will ensure that our Housing Investment Programme will continue at pace, and £109 million has been earmarked over the next five years to focus on issues that matter to our tenants, like improving energy efficiency.

“Over the next year, 400 homes will benefit from external envelope enhancements, which means everything is addressed at the same time, from rendering to guttering to insulation, all with the aim of making our homes warmer and more energy efficient. 800 homes will also receive new heating systems, 200 will get new windows and 680 will receive upgrades to kitchens, bathrooms and rewiring.

“We will also be continuing with our extensive housebuilding programme. Over the last ten years we have built 602 new homes and 48 net zero homes are currently being built at Kennedy Drive in Kilmarnock where it is hoped that tenants will move into their new, energy efficient homes early next year.

“I believe very strongly in our house building programme and the importance of ensuring that all of our communities have access to homes that are appropriate for their needs. I therefore made an additional proposal, which received the support of all elected members, that a housing needs survey be carried out in New Cumnock and that a rural housing action plan, for the whole of East Ayrshire, be developed by Housing Services by 2025. This will allow us to take further, informed decisions at Cabinet next year.

“Finally, our tenants overwhelmingly recognise that their rent is good value and, frankly, that matters. We are delivering for our tenants and our communities and will continue to do so through our housing improvement and house building programmes, while keeping our tenants’ views at the heart of our decision making and future planning.”

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