Angus Council chiefs remain confident of weathering the coronavirus storm to keep ambitious affordable housing plans afloat.
Through its Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP), it is estimated that around 550 homes could be built between now and 2026 by the council and housing association partners.
The schemes will be subsidised to the tune of £31 million by the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing Supply Programme.
Despite the pandemic’s construction industry shutdown delaying progress by around six months, officials say good progress has been made to keep the programme on track.
But the council will knock down more than 130 houses as part of its 250-house target and fresh concern has been expressed over the demolition of perfectly serviceable homes.
Housing service leader John Morrow told Angus communities committee: “In 2019/20, the council and its Registered Social Landlord (RSL) partners delivered 122 affordable homes against a target of 120.
“This is a significant achievement considering the construction shutdown that came into effect before the end of the financial year.
“It is the second year in a row that the target has been exceeded.”
Confidence full funding allocation will be spent
He added: “Due to the pandemic, projects have been pushed back by around six months.
“However, since construction was given the go ahead to restart, the council and partners have made good progress in bringing projects back on stream.
“It is anticipated the full funding allocation of £9.681m will be achieved in 2020/21 if no further issues are experienced within the sector.”
“The council is committed to overseeing a long-term programme of new affordable housing development in Angus even though the delivery landscape is likely to remain challenging and the funding picture uncertain.”
Brechin and Edzell SNP councillor Kenny Braes said: “We’ll demolish 133 houses as part of this programme and I’m sure some will be well past their sell-by date.
“But there will also be some that are perfectly serviceable.
“I appreciate there are benefits but it does sit a bit uncomfortably that we would knock down what could be good houses to provide these sites,” he said.
His comments follow controversy around the decision to bulldoze Edzell’s Inglis Court and replace 25 sheltered housing properties there with 21 new homes.
Plans for the scheme are yet to be considered by councillors but a number of objections to the application have been lodged.
The Working With You in Angus group which Mr Guild led the formation of has branded the demolition decision unlawful.
Mr Morrow said: “We’re delivering back twice as many as we are demolishing.
“We very often build our homes on brownfield sites and that quite often means we take a regeneration approach to our supply.”
He said it required the council to take a “critical approach” to whether existing properties met customer needs, including factors such as the difficulty of making them energy efficient.
‘Off the shelf’ housing will boost stock
Mr Morrow said the council will also look at both ‘off the shelf’ new property purchases and dipping into the second-hand market to boost stock.
The affordable housing account commitments include almost £290,000 to Hillcrest Housing Association towards flood prevention works at Baltic Mill in Arbroath.
It has also earmarked £333,000 to Caledonia Housing Association towards housing provision at The Gables, Forfar.
The Arbroath Road property has accommodated adults with learning disabilities for around 40 years.
Councillors previously agreed a plan to transfer the site to the association for the creation of a supported housing development.
The development will include 11, one-bedroom flats and one, two-bedroom house as well as office/communal space in the first phase.
A further eight, one to two-bed mainstream affordable homes will follow in phase two.
Other locations on the council’s future programme include Invertay House, Monifieth, the continuing regeneration of Timmergreens in Arbroath and Letham’s Jubilee Park.
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