The DGSCHT works with communities to promote housing investment and the provision of affordable housing in small villages and settlements throughout Dumfries & Galloway.LOCAL HOUSES FOR LOCAL PEOPLE ON LOCAL WAGES
Definition of Affordable Housing Housing for sale or rent at rates lower than market rates that is allocated on the basis of need rather than ability to pay. This includes: • Social rental housing via housing associations • Reduced price houses / building plots for sale • Property for let at less than open market rents either through housing trusts or the private sector
Why is affordable housing an issue? • Low level of local incomes compared to house prices and rents. • High levels of in-migration from more affluent areas • Severe shortage of suitable affordable housing in rural areas to rent or buy especially for young people and the elderly.
Consequences for Community A lack of affordable housing can be damaging to the viability of the community: • Distorted demographics – too many older people and not enough economically active younger people. • Threats to services- Schools, bus routes, shops, post office. • Limited labour force – stifles community life and economic prospects. Key posts can be hard to fill. • Overall threat to community resilience and social /economic sustainability.
Existing Housing Provision • Much existing social housing sold off and is now on open market • Many former tied properties have been sold off or used for holiday lets • Shortage of available rental property • Majority of rental properties are in private sector (80% in some areas). Can be expensive and often hard to heat leading to fuel poverty. • Private rentals are usually on a 6 month short assured tenancy and, while flexible, offer little long term security.
What is needed? • More low cost rental property – either social housing (less popular with communities), private or community owned rental housing. • Low cost homes to buy. • Low cost self build plots.
How can DGSCHT help? • Raising the profile of the problem at local and national level • Working with policy makers to try to rural proof planning and housing policies • Working on directly with communities to explore all options • Quantifying level and type of need (important to attract funding and to justify development) • Developing innovative solutions to difficult problems with partners – housing associations, private landlords, developers and community owned trusts.
Rural Housing Body Status DGSCHT is a designated Rural Housing Body under the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003.This means: 1. All property we sell must be offered back to us at the discounted rate at every subsequent sale (Rural Housing Burden). 2. We can enter long term leases of land for housing (ie 100 yrs) in a way similar to lease hold in England.
What do we do about it (1) • Encouraging and assisting housing associations to invest in rental housing or shared equity housing for sale. • Providing low cost self build plots • Example – Monreith: • Consent and funding gained for 13 houses in coastal village. • 6 social rent • 4 mid market rent • 3 low cost self build plots
What do we do about it (2) • Working with private developers using rural housing burden. Before the Trust intervened the council had no way to require small scale developments to meet their affordable housing planning policy requirements (20% contribution) • £1.4 million worth of discounted value negotiated on 60+ houses. • 8 sold to date. • 4 more available now • 8 more in next 3 months
What do we do about it (3) • Working with private landlords, eg. Dormont Passive Houses- 8 low cost rental houses built by local estate via Rural Homes for Rent Scheme • The Trust provided the housing needs data and supported the applicant through the planning process.
What do we do about it (4) Working with 6 communities to establish Community Land Trusts (CLTs) to develop community led housing projects. This may provide: • rental housing (could be owned by RSLs, private landlords or by the CLT) • Self build plots • Reduced price houses for sale. Subsidised by: • Developer contributions • Windfarm benefits • Local estates/ landowners • Minimal recourse to public funds
Principal Challenges: • Need for more low cost housing to rent or buy in the right places. • Conventional methods (Housing Associations and Govt Shared Equity Schemes) not rural proofed. Allocation policy issues create nimbyism and threshold levels for OMSEP set too low for rural house prices. In many places self build is the only option. • Housing for young people- especially in the light of Housing Benefit changes. • Deposits are high for low cost purchase and self build. • Access to land. Planning is the main restriction. Most landowners can be very cooperative but some (especially institutions, trusts and modern agribusinesses) can be difficult to work with.
Land Issues • Often not much land around rural communities can be developed (flood risk etc) • Land owners feel short changed when others profit from their generosity – i.e. Council housing sell off. • Land owners don’t want to loose good agricultural land. They are not always large landowners. • They may be required to sell for the highest price (esp the Church of Scotland and land held by charitable trusts • What is in it for them? Once they have sold a piece of land they cant sell it again.
Possible Solutions • Work with landowners when possible – see Dormont example. • Look at mixed/joint development – ie include open market and low cost housing to sweeten the deal for landowners – inclusion of a high number of affordable houses can help with planning. • Look a ways of leasing land for housing on long term basis – ie 100 yrs ( may work for Church and Trusts). • Community buyouts – cant do a hostile bid currently. • Compulsory Purchase Orders – councils are loath to do this. Generally – for community cohesion – it is better to work with willing partners.