New powers for Aberdeenshire Council to tackle housing shortage

Aberdeenshire CouncilAberdeenshire Council officers have been handed new powers to buy property in a bid to increase the supply of affordable housing and tackle homelessness.

Councillors approved a proposal from director of infrastructure services, Stephen Archer, for new powers to fast track the acquisition of homes from the open market.

The local authority already had protocols in place to acquire properties, however, Mr Archer said it was “necessary to review and refresh” the current system in order to ensure the council continued its commitment to addressing homelessness and meeting the Energy Efficiency Standards for Social Housing (EESSH) by 2020.

In a report presented at a meeting of full council last week, Mr Archer said the Fast Track Protocol to Purchase Affordable Housing will “allow the council to compete effectively and efficiently against other potential purchasers ensuring that appropriately sized and located homes to meet housing need across Aberdeenshire can be secured”.

It added: “Properties may well be purchased as temporary accommodation in the first instance to help in addressing homelessness or as part of a decant strategy to assist in meeting EESSH; but in essence properties will be purchased to increase the overall supply of affordable housing and let accordingly.”

Under the new powers, Mr Archer and designated members of his team would be licensed to buy properties on the open market to meet affordable housing needs as long as key members of the housing committee are consulted.

This would include consulting with the chairwoman and vice-chairman of the social work and housing committee, as well as the opposition’s housing spokeswoman. Councillors from the affected ward would also need to be notified.

Mr Archer added: “No properties will be progressed without an appropriate budget having been identified and secured.”

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