Lord Haughey pauses £1bn plan to build 11,000 affordable homes
Lord Willie Haughey has said that his ambitious plans to spend more than £1 billion on building 11,000 affordable homes in Scotland are on hold due to increased construction costs and the new freeze on rents.
The business tycoon unveiled his housing project last year after striking a deal to sell a 24% stake in his family-owned City Facilities Management Holdings business to Scottish property group Ediston for £640 million.
As part of efforts to tackle shortages and encourage more people to rent, the entrepreneur claimed to have developed a model which will dramatically reduce rental costs for young tenants.
Speaking at the weekend on the Go Radio Business Show With Hunter & Haughey, Lord Haughey told his fellow entrepreneur and co-presenter Sir Tom Hunter that the spiralling cost of bricks and the passing of the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Scotland Bill mean he will not be progressing the plans at this time.
The emergency legislation that will give ministers temporary power to cap rents for private and social tenants was passed after a final vote in Holyrood on Thursday.
Championed by Patrick Harvie, the minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights, the Bill was the first to be led through a parliament by a Green minister anywhere in the UK.
Lord Haughey told the show: “I planned over the next 10 years to build 11,000 houses – houses that people can be proud of.
“I was trying to build communities and I wanted to build 1,200sqft homes that people would rent for about £695 per month with maintenance bills included to help people keep their energy costs down.”
The Glasgow-based entrepreneur admitted he had been contemplating taking on debt “for the first time” to speed up the project.
“But two things happened,” he said, alluding to a notification from his bricks supplier that costs had increased by 28%. “Add to that Patrick Harvie’s rent freeze bill and I am going to put things on hold. There is no incentive whatsoever to try to make a difference.”
Although Sir Tom suggested Lord Haughey would “find a way round it”, the businessman said: “Patrick Harvie’s rent freeze is a big part of my decision. The housing market is in absolute crisis and without any plans on how to address it that crisis can only get worse.”
Lord Haughey, who is also a Labour peer, added: “Patrick Harvie will go down in history as the man who stopped investment and added to the calamitous lack of housing we have in Scotland, 100 per cent.
“Don’t take my word for it – the housing associations are calling for it [the Bill] to be scrapped.”