Housing minister opens new LAR development in East Lothian

Housing minister Kevin Stewart (left) and LAR chair Andrew Robertson

Housing minister Kevin Stewart MSP has officially opened LAR Housing Trust’s first ever design and build development.

The development in Cockenzie, East Lothian, is also the first to be called off from the housing charity’s £5 million building framework.

LAR chair, Andrew Robertson, said: “This project was a game changer for us as we had previously only been involved in turn key projects and at sites already under construction. In this case we have been actively involved in remediating the site, designing the homes and seeking planning permission, prior to appointing a builder. To have been able to construct such a stunning development as our first project is very pleasing.

“The minister visited us here during the early stages of construction and I’m delighted he has returned to see the completed development and to officially open what is a strategically very important site for us.”

The 26 new mid market rental homes, built by Hart Builders, part of The Cruden Group, are on the site of a former boatyard and boast enviable harbour views. Before LAR stepped in the site was in a terrible state, but it now consists of 22 two bed flats and four one bed flats.

Mr Stewart said: “I’m pleased that the Scottish Government’s substantial £55m loan to LAR Housing Trust has enabled LAR to construct its own housing developments, contributing to the supply of new, affordable homes across Scotland.

“These new homes will provide another option for tenants and transform the local area whilst recognising the heritage of the site. This is the first in a number of design and build developments as LAR continue to build on progress to date in developing up to 1,000 quality homes for mid-market rent.

“This example of innovative partnership is another example of how our ‘More Homes Scotland’ initiative is working towards its target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes - as well as increasing the supply of housing options across all tenures with the aim of ensuring everyone in Scotland has access to an affordable, good quality home which meets their needs.”

This latest project marks continued growth in East Lothian for LAR and is the organisation’s third development to open in the area. A further site at Dolphingstone is also currently under construction with two more sites in the pipeline.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart speaks at the Boatyard in Cockenzie

LAR’s growing presence in the area has been welcomed by East Lothian Council.

Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Jim Goodfellow, said: “This is a welcome addition to our affordable housing programme. Originally this site had been an option for a private developer which would have delivered 25% of housing as affordable but the LAR initiative will deliver 100% of affordable housing properties.”

The Cockenzie site is a well known local landmark and was for 70 years a working boatyard run by the Weatherhead family, but closed down in 1969. LAR was approached by the council and local heritage group, Boatie Blest, on behalf of the Weatherhead family asking if some kind of recognition of the site’s past could be incorporated into the new development.

Local stonemason Gardner Molloy was commissioned to produce a mural as an integral part of the buildings.

Andrew Robertson added: “We are building for the future, but were delighted to recognise this site’s past and its place in the local community. The magnificent carving is a fitting tribute to the Weatherhead family and an excellent example of community involvement in our projects.”

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