Landbank money released to enable Highland affordable housing schemes

The Townlands Barn in Cromarty (image courtesy of the Highland Historic Buildings Trust)
The Townlands Barn in Cromarty (image courtesy of the Highland Historic Buildings Trust)

The Highland Council has approved the use of Landbank funding to assist in the development of affordable housing in the region.

The local authority holds a Landbank Fund which is used to enable affordable housing to be delivered either through loans and grants to partner housing organisations, or directly to part fund the provision of new council housing. The fund was originally set up using a £5 million grant from the then Scottish Executive and £5m from housing land sales.

The Landbank is supplemented each year through income from council tax monies from second and holiday homes. It is a condition of both the original grant from the Scottish Government and the council tax income that the funds must be used to provide additional affordable housing directly or indirectly.

Members of the council’s places committee agreed the use of £13,000 from the Landbank Fund to provide a loan to Cromarty Community Council to assist in the purchase of the former Townlands Barn, which is one of the oldest buildings in Cromarty.

Purchase by the Community will allow them to have a greater influence over the future use of the building and surrounding land – parts of which are owned by the Highland Council and parts by Albyn Housing Society. Securing the land between the Barn and the Victoria Hall will allow easier access to the housing lands to the rear of the Hall and will assist the council and its partners to develop affordable housing.

The Community Council intend to launch a consultation exercise within Cromarty that will seek views on uses of the building and other lands. The loan to enable purchase of the Barn will be repaid on development or onward sale.

Members also agreed the use of £20,000 of Landbank Funding to provide a grant to Albyn Housing Society to assist in the development of affordable housing in Ardgay.

The site of the former Lady Ross Hotel in Ardgay is under redevelopment to provide a Village Square, community business Hub and affordable housing. The affordable housing will be developed by Albyn Housing Society and will be available for rent. The grant of £20,000 is to assist in meeting part of the cost of the development.

Chair of the places committee, Cllr Allan Henderson, said: “The underlying principle behind the use of the Landbank Fund is to unlock sites which would otherwise have not been developed or have been significantly delayed. This helps us to ensure the delivery of vital affordable housing in high priority areas to meet local needs.”

The Landbank Fund has been used effectively for a variety of purposes to assist the delivery of affordable housing in the Highlands. This has included:

  • costs in relation to disposal of council owned sites to deliver affordable housing e.g. demolition costs;
  • acquisition of sites;
  • site servicing costs, including abnormal infrastructure costs;
  • house building costs;
  • part funding high cost projects in areas of housing shortage; and
  • part funding council house build programmes.
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