Plans unveiled to increase social housing on Arran

Arran beach-1657583_960_720Action is underway to address Arran’s housing issues after a new report revealed the island is the second-most difficult place in the UK after London to access affordable housing.

North Ayrshire Council has joined forces with Arran Economic Group to develop proposals to tackle the problem head on.

One of the major issues facing the island’s residents is the lack of social housing – there are currently no council houses on Arran but that will change with a commitment from North Ayrshire Council to build 26 new homes in Arran’s main town Brodick.

These new properties will form part of a wider masterplan to build 1,000 new council homes across North Ayrshire Council within the next five years.

The ambitious programme has been announced following a report from the Arran Economic Group which shows that across the UK, Arran is second only to London in terms of difficulty in accessing affordable housing in the UK.

The study shows that Arran’s housing affordability ratio (based on an average salary of £24k) is ranked as 8.2 while London stands at 10.4. The average figure for the UK is 5.3 while the average in Scotland is 3.3.

There are approximately 2,100 households on Arran, yet only about 16% (342) are social housing properties, operated by Trust Housing Association. The majority of properties on the island are privately owned with 22% of these classed as second homes – meaning a lack of affordable housing is available.

North Ayrshire Council leader Joe Cullinane said the council is determined to make more affordable housing available and is working with Arran Economic Group to achieve that aim.

He said: “Last year, we increased our commitment to new council housing by increasing the number of new homes from 500 to 750. Now we have increased that further and are pledging to build 1000 new homes across North Ayrshire by 2022.

“We want to invest in our residents and their future and play our part in helping to reverse the decline in the availability of social housing.

“We are all aware that many people have been priced out of the housing market so we want to go the extra mile to give more people the opportunity to live in a high-quality and, most importantly, affordable home.

“We know Arran faces unique issues with a real lack in social housing and these new properties in Brodick will be one of the first steps taken to help address that.”

The plan has the backing of Arran Economic Group, whose study illustrated the urgent need for more affordable housing on the island.

Tom Tracey, chairman of Arran Economic Group, said: “Arran’s economy is growing by about 10% every year and we have one of the best qualities of life in Scotland.

“But our working-age population is expected to decline by about 47% by 2025. To be clear, we have jobs available across all sectors but few candidates to fill them.

“One of the primary reasons we are unable to attract or retain employees is the shortage of low-cost permanent accommodation.

“We have been working alongside North Ayrshire Council to develop plans to address this critical issue and we’re delighted that the council is committed to new social housing on Arran.”

In addition to the 26 new council properties at Brathwic Terrace, provision has also been made for further social housing properties within the council’s newly-approved Strategic Housing Investment Plan. A proposed development, at Springbank Farm, Brodick, would see 20 new properties created by Trust Housing Association in a project which is due to be completed in 2020/21.

North Ayrshire Council will also work alongside Arran Economic Group to explore grant funding which would be the catalyst for bringing empty homes on the island back into use. It is estimated that there are currently about 75 properties deemed empty for a variety of reasons. In addition, both the council and economic group will be jointly examining other low cost home ownership models.

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