Housing minister opens new affordable homes in Aberdeenshire

Neil Clapperton, chief executive of Grampian Housing Association (left) and Kevin Stewart MSP
Neil Clapperton, chief executive of Grampian Housing Association (left) and Kevin Stewart MSP

Grampian Housing Association and its subsidiary Kirkgate Developments are celebrating the completion of its latest development of affordable homes, increasing the group’s portfolio of properties for rent throughout the North-east to more than 3,100.

It coincides with the launch of Let’s Choose, the new brand for Kirkgate’s properties for mid-market and market rent in preparation for future expansion of its services.

To mark the occasion, Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government and housing, officially opened the 31 houses, a mix of 14 two and three bedrooms for social rent and 17 three bedroom houses for mid-market (below private sector) rent at Osprey Heights, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. The minister met local residents who will directly benefit from additional affordable homes in the area and was shown around the new development.

(from left) Osprey Heights tenant Susannah Henderson with daughters Amelia and Harper, Gillian Martin MSP and Kevin Stewart MSP
(from left) Osprey Heights tenant Susannah Henderson with daughters Amelia and Harper, Gillian Martin MSP and Kevin Stewart MSP

The minister officially declared the affordable housing open along with Norton Bertram-Smith, chairman of Grampian Housing Association, Richard Dodunski, chairman of Kirkgate Developments and Neil Clapperton, chief executive of Grampian Housing Association.

Grampian Housing Association received over £1.8 million of funding from the Scottish Government, along with a grant of £65,000 from Aberdeenshire Council.

The £3.7m development was completed in partnership with Barratt Homes and builds on the Association’s successful and long-standing relationship with the housebuilder.

Greentrees Gardens in Inverurie provides 31 two and three bedroom houses aimed at families seeking affordable housing in the Aberdeen housing market area. In an earlier phase of the development 10 houses for social rent were built at Threave Circle, bringing the housing group’s total provision in Osprey Heights to 41 homes.

The development is part of Aberdeenshire Council’s Strategic Housing Investment Programme (SHIP) agreed with the Scottish Government. Osprey Heights contributes to Aberdeenshire Council’s aim to increase the supply of affordable housing to meet local housing need

Kevin Stewart said: “I’m delighted that our investment has helped to make affordable housing a reality in this rural area. This latest development in Inverurie is a great example of how partnership working can deliver good quality homes that suit the needs of individuals - allowing them to remain within, and sustain, their communities.

“Affordable housing in the Aberdeen area is a priority and we’ll continue to work with local partners to deliver the much-needed affordable homes that people across the country need.”

Norton Bertram-Smith said: “We are working hard to lead the sector in the development of significant affordable homes in the Aberdeen housing market area. There is still work to be done, but today’s additional homes is another ambition realised.

“Grampian Housing Association is one of the three locally based Registered Social Landlords who are committed to contribute to the provision of up to 2,000 affordable and low cost homes in Aberdeenshire over the four year period, 2016 to 2020. The properties at Osprey Heights and at our other developments across Aberdeenshire built since 2015, will mean Grampian Housing Association starts its commitment by delivering a total of 91 new affordable homes by the end of 2017. More new homes will follow thereafter.”

Richard Dodunski added: “The launch of Let’s Choose is a milestone for Kirkgate Developments. The company is gearing up to offer wider services in the future and the Let’s Choose brand will give it a distinct image and capture the imagination of house seekers looking for quality affordable housing.

“Many working households in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen are on moderate incomes and do not qualify for social housing but cannot afford to buy or rent in the private sector, resulting in limited housing options. In addition, in the current economic climate where a household’s income could be at risk, renting offers more security. Our homes for mid-market rent provide a solution for these households.”

Looking to the future, Grampian Housing Association and Kirkgate Developments are an important part of the regional mix to encourage economic development and support a healthy economy. The Scottish Government recognises that the supply of new affordable housing needs to be a high priority.

The Grampian group is keen to support this by working with the public and voluntary sectors to bring forward affordable land for development, as well as private house builders and developers to source opportunities and seek funding to develop more social housing in the North-east.

Rob Simpson, head of housing, Aberdeenshire Council, said: “Increasing affordable housing remains a top priority for Aberdeenshire Council. The Osprey Heights development will further increase the range of housing available in the Inverurie area and we are pleased to work with partners in order to achieve this. Only by working with others will be able to deliver the housing required across Aberdeenshire.”

David Stewart, construction director, Barratt North Scotland added: “We are very pleased to have developed such a positive partnership with Grampian Housing Association and to continue our support for the communities in which we build.

“The new properties help to increase the number of low cost homes in Aberdeenshire and we very much look forward to playing our part in realising the Scottish Government’s new housing ambitions in collaboration with our Registered Social Landlord (RSL) partners in other areas of the North of Scotland too.”

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