Pioneering New House Building Model To Be Considered
Highland Councillors are being asked to consider investigating the feasibility of a pioneering new model of providing much-needed affordable homes in the Highlands.
It could see a new build programme of 650 houses over a five year period.
The idea is for the Council to work with a private sector partner to release the equity currently tied up in its Council houses. As houses become vacant they would transfer to the private sector partner in return for a capital payment. The capital would be used to build new houses for let as Council tenancies.
A key point to note is that the Council would continue to allocate, manage and maintain the stock, based on agreed fees per unit to be paid to the council by the partner.
The transferred houses would be relet to applicants on the Highland Housing Register at rent levels pitched between the average council rent and private rents, currently estimated at Ł75 per week (charged over 52 weeks). The average council rent for the current financial year is Ł59.76 (over 52 weeks).
Properties would revert to Council ownership at nil cost after 25 years.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "This is an interesting proposition that has come forward from our Housing and Property management team, which allows the Council to release equity on the asset value of council housing becoming vacant to relet to generate funds for new council house building. We estimate this could number 650 over a five year period, The number could be significantly increased if the Scottish Government continues to provide subsidy for Council house building.
"The Housing and Social Work Committee will be asked to agree to undertake and fund a full feasibility assessment on the equity release model as a means to deliver additional affordable housing in the Highlands. We would work closely with the Scottish Government in developing the model.
"We would then come back to the Committee with a detailed business case."
She stressed that addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the Highlands is one of the Council's key priorities.
She added: "Strengthening the Highlands" has a target of 2,000 new affordable homes by 2011. We are on target to meet this commitment, but have identified ongoing high levels of demand for additional housing for rent beyond 2011. Successive Local Housing Strategies have identified the need for additional housing supply as the main strategic issue in relation to housing."
Following feedback from Highland food and drink producers and providers The Highland Council is to run a workshop on social media networking and launch a Think Local Facebook page to build business contacts and to promote local food and drink. Over the last few months crofters, caterers, hoteliers and shop owners have attended meetings throughout the Highlands as part of the councilâ€™s Think Local Highland Food and Drink project aimed at enabling better collaboration in this sector.
The public is being urged to comment on The Highland Councilâ€™s first green transport strategy. The deadline for responses is 30 April.
The Highland Council has welcomed funding to enable people living in fuel poverty to make their homes warmer, more environmentally friendly and cheaper to heat. The amount of ÂŁ2,055,346 from The Scottish Government for the Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland is the fourth highest allocation in Scotland.
Trading Standards officers with The Highland Council are warning consumers to be wary of paying upfront fees to companies claiming to be offering services connected with the Governmentâ€™s â€śGreen Dealâ€ť scheme. Problems with one particular company have highlighted the dangers of upfront fees.
Work will start at the end of April on the year-long second phase of the River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme, Inverness. The council has confirmed the award of the ÂŁ9.3 million contract to McLaughlin and Harvey Ltd, the company that recently built the new ferry terminal extension at Sconser, Skye.
`Social Enterpriseâ€™ is an increasingly fundamental part of what makes the Highland tick and The Highland Council is looking for input to its strategy. Link To Draft Strategy A draft Social Enterprise Strategy for the Highlands covering the years 2014-2017 has been published for consultation by the Council and all interested parties are being asked to take part and help shape the future of this sector.
The Local Government Boundary Commission For Scotland have issued the following statem,ent regarding the latest review of boundaries and councillor numbers. We started our Fifth Reviews of Electoral Arrangements on 21 February 2014.
The Highland Councilâ€™s recycling team is reviewing the operation of its network of 21 recycling centres to encourage the public to make a bigger effort to separate waste that can be recycled from waste that cannot. The Council wants to increase the amount of material recycled and at the same time reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.
Seven new projects totalling ÂŁ800,000 of expenditure on repair and replacement works in seven Highland primary schools have been approved by members of The Highland Councilâ€™s Adult and Childrenâ€™s Services Committee. The new projects, which will be funded from the Councilâ€™s Education, Culture and Sport capital programme will be completed in the financial year 1 April 2014 â€“ 31 March 2015.
Members of the licensed trade in the Highlands are being reminded of the need to undergo refresher training to ensure they retain their personal licences - and the authority to sell alcohol on their premises. Personal Licences are issued for a period of 10 years.
[Printer Friendly Version]