West Dunbartonshire to speed up housing buy back scheme with new appointment

West Dunbartonshire to speed up housing buy back scheme with new appointment

A bid to bring homes into the ownership of West Dunbartonshire Council to increase the number of properties available and reduce homelessness is making progress with a dedicated officer now appointed to lead the scheme.

Members of the council’s housing and communities committee yesterday heard that there are plans to bring 300 homes into council ownership over the next five years.

This is in addition to the 122 new homes which have been bought by the council in the last five years.

Currently, there is a national shortage of social housing across Scotland which has led to an all-time high in homelessness applications and demand for social housing both locally and nationally.

In West Dunbartonshire, there is a particular need for larger family housing as well as one-bedroom properties.

A dedicated officer has now been appointed to lead the Buy Back programme to which people can self-refer. Empty homes officers and housing officers working in the community will also be looking to identify properties which could be bought by the council.

The initiative has now been running for more than ten years, having been approved by the committee in 2013 although initially it was only looking to secure a modest five homes per year.

Last March it was agreed that the ambition and vision of the scheme would be scaled up in order to meet housing need and help combat homelessness by securing 300 new homes for social rent over a five year period. The aim is to reduce the need for temporary housing and the number of empty homes while improving the standard of housing within the area as well as creating more vibrant communities.

Councillor Gurpreet Singh Johal, convener of housing and communities, said: “We are committed to ensuring our residents can access secure and appropriately sized homes which suit their requirements and the Buy Back programme helps by widening our housing stock.

“I am pleased that we have been able to scale up this programme and we now have a dedicated officer who will lead the way in bringing more homes back into our ownership, making more properties available for council tenants and reducing homelessness.”

Councillor Hazel Sorrell, vice convener of housing and communities, said: “This is an ambitious project but one which will make a huge difference in our communities. I am delighted that more homes are being brought into council ownership meaning our tenants are better served.”

The housing and communities committee also heard that the council continues to make good progress in its housebuilding programme with a new project due to begin in the coming weeks.

The More Homes programme has already seen 1000 new affordable homes built in West Dunbartonshire to date.

The sustainable new build programme is 100% net zero which confirms the council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency. The energy efficiency measures within the new homes will also allow citizens to see a reduction in their future fuel bills within these new properties.

The council aims to deliver 2500 new social and affordable homes by 2032 with an 88-home development in Clydebank East currently under construction and set to be completed later this year.

Work is also soon due to begin, subject to planning conditions being discharged, at Pappert in Bonhill. The 26-home development will include five four-bedroom properties in response to greater demand from larger families within the area.

Councillor Singh Johal said: “This is an incredibly positive report which reaffirms the council’s commitment to developing affordable homes for people in our community.

“I am particularly pleased that the council is creating homes suitable for larger families in order to reduce the risk of overcrowding. This is a positive and important step in responding to the changing needs of our residents.”

Councillor Sorrell added: “The council continues to deliver on ambitious plans to build sustainable affordable housing for our citizens and I am pleased to see the progress which is being made.”

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