Housing leads efforts to develop North Lanarkshire economy

Housing leads efforts to develop North Lanarkshire economy

North Lanarkshire Council is to focus on new housing and redeveloping town centres as part of a number of actions over the next financial year to develop the local economy for residents and businesses.

The Economic Regeneration Delivery Plan for 2023 – 2028 and Action Plan for 2023/24 were agreed by the council’s Enterprise and Fair Work Committee.

The action plan sets out a number of actions that council will carry out in 2023/24 including:

  • complete 276 more new-build council homes, purchase 76 homes through the open market and empty homes initiatives, and another 50 from the private sector;
  • finalise the first four Town Action Plans in Airdrie, Cumbernauld, Motherwell and Wishaw, and develop plans for Bellshill, Coatbridge, Kilsyth and Shotts;
  • create or refurbish 16,500 sq. ft of business and industrial workspace, remediate 2 hectares of land for redevelopment, and invest at least £2.3 million in key business projects;
  • develop 6km of new and existing active travel routes to improve links between local communities, town centres and business locations, install fibre networks to improve digital connectivity, and continue the improvements to road and active travel through the multi-million pound Glasgow City Region City Deal investment.

“Our plan explains how we will deliver a regeneration programme to improve quality of life for residents and create opportunities for business growth and jobs,” said Councillor Ayeshah Khan, convener of the Enterprise and Fair Work Committee.

“North Lanarkshire continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in Scotland, however the economic impact of Brexit, Covid-19 and more lately the cost-of-living crisis have raised challenges.

“Through the plan, we are taking action to encourage investment, have homes and places where people want to live, and the digital and physical connectivity that attracts business and new opportunity.”

The first North Lanarkshire Economic Regeneration Delivery Plan was produced for 2019-2023 with annual action plans detailing key milestones and targets. The Delivery Plan has been updated for the next five years to reflect developments and targets at local and national levels.

Meanwhile, the council has agreed its budget for the coming year as it was faced with a budget gap of more than £28m.

A council tax increase of 5%, less than half the rate of inflation, was agreed. Additional investment in the maintenance of cemeteries, greenspace and main road grass verges was decided, anti-social behaviour support will be extended to all residents and more money was made available for enforcement around littering, fly tipping and dog fouling. Previous savings approved for active and creative facilities and services were also reversed.

Councillor Jim Logue, leader of North Lanarkshire Council, said: “I am pleased we have been able to reach a balanced budget that protects jobs, provides some investment in services and restricts the council tax increase to less than half the rate of inflation.

“However, there is no doubt at all that we are reaching the very limit of protecting services from serious and damaging cuts, and the Scottish Government must act now to give local authorities a fair settlement.

“We anticipate cuts of £37m across the two years from 2024. There is no room for manoeuvre left; the decisions we will have to take in future years will be hugely damaging to the services people rely on.”

The council reaffirmed its commitment to the Community Investment Fund, setting aside the equivalent of 1% council tax increase (£1.6m) to support capital investment as part of its long-term strategy.

A one-off £50,000 fund was also allocated for communities to celebrate the forthcoming coronation of King Charles III in May.

Action had already been taken to address £17.2m of the gap with no significant reduction in services.

A review of the devolved school management budget (with no impact on teacher numbers) will take place to save just over £1.16m over three years, the operating model for early learning and childcare will be reviewed to save £3m over three years and moving free school transport provision to statutory mileage limits will save £3m over three years. A public consultation around school transport provision will take place, details of which will be announced in due course.

An increase of 5% for council rent levels was also agreed at the meeting, generating £7.1m to maintain and improve existing homes and implement energy-efficiency measures. Of this figure, £1m will be specifically allocated to the Rent Assistance Fund to support tenants on low incomes who may have fallen behind on rent payments during the cost of living crisis.

Share icon
Share this article: