Paul Hillard: We need to build better homes more quickly to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis

Paul Hillard: We need to build better homes more quickly to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis

Paul Hillard

Paul Hillard, managing director of Irvine Housing Association, reveals why better homes are needed to tackle Scotland’s housing crisis.

Our housing system in Scotland is in crisis.

At the heart of the problem is the undersupply of new homes – particularly new homes for social rent.

The latest Scottish Government annual housing statistics show there were 158,439 households on local authority or common housing register lists with 132,000 of those on waiting lists for entry into social housing.

These numbers are improving but not fast enough.

Analysis by Scape has shown that since 2000, Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) have built an average of 3,461 social rented homes a year. Last year, the 160 RSLs in Scotland only built an average of 19 homes each for social rent.

We need to do more.

Last month, we welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government’s Housing to 2040 blueprint which provides funding of £16 billion to deliver 100,000 affordable homes in the next 12 years, with the majority earmarked for social housing. This kind of long-term strategy is very encouraging. 

And at Irvine Housing Association I’m proud to say that we are trying our best, by building 300 new homes over the next three years.

We have just signed a deal to deliver the largest modular social housing development in Scotland which will create much-needed homes for social rent in Dundonald, the first of which will be ready by the end of this year.

How is a small but ambitious housing association in Ayrshire achieving that?

Well, firstly by choosing to deliver modular homes.

By partnering with Ayrshire modular homes specialists The Wee House Company we will deliver a 63-home development as part of phase 1 of plans for 250 homes on the site.

So why modular housing?

Well, it’s affordable, with the cost to build a modular home significantly below the cost of a standard house build, which means we can build more at any one time.

The homes are delivered more quickly – this 63-unit development is expected to be built and the first lets delivered within a year.

One reason for this increased timescale is that the build is less affected by weather, with most of it taking place indoors.

The Wee House Company will design and fabricate all houses in their Ayrshire factory. Properties will be 90% complete when they depart the factory with kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing and electrics already installed.

Scotland’s housing crisis is an industrial-sized problem with issues around both quantity and quality. We need to create manufacturing solutions that deliver on both fronts.

Precision-engineered factory built houses create warmer, better quality homes. This is because modular houses are constructed to have fewer gaps than traditional homes allowing less hot air to escape the homes.

Modular homes are greener too both in how they are built and the running costs. As homes are built off-site, there is lower waste because each home is built to a consistent plan, and, with most of the build being done in the factory, there’s less site disturbance and waste on site.

This is an exciting development, it’s exciting for our customers, many of whom will, by next summer, have a high quality, brand new home to live in.
And that’s ultimately why we’re all here. To provide affordable homes for the people who need them.

As a small housing association, managing 2,300 homes, we are able to build more new homes than many other similar sized, or larger, RSLs because of the financial benefits of being part of The Riverside Group for the past 10 years.

The Riverside Group has experience of delivering larger housing schemes and regeneration projects across the UK including setting up a joint venture with Lovell Homes which enables the development of larger housing developments through our Compendium Living partnership.

Scotland Scape’s analysis shows that at the current rate of delivery it will take over 30 years for every household on the housing waiting list to be given a home.

However, the solutions to this crisis are out there if we are willing to work smarter, take advantage of the advances in homebuilding and embrace innovation.

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