D-Day for £8m homes plan

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By Hugh Boag

A decision on an £8 million proposal to build more than 50 affordable homes on Arran should be known in a matter of weeks.

The Arran Development Trust has now identified three sites in Lamlash where they hope to build 43 homes for rent as well as provide 14 plots to sell for islanders to build their own homes.

The fact that Arran has a critical shortage of affordable homes has been well documented but the community is driving an initiative to fix the problem and should find out next month if the Scottish government will back the plan and provide the £8 million needed.

The Banner first revealed the plans last December and the Trust has been giving details of their progress at two public events held recently at the Ormidale Pavilion in Brodick.

At the meetings Trust chairman Barry Mochan confirmed that if funding is granted two of the sites will provide 43 homes – a mix of one, two, three and four bedrooms – for affordable rent and a third site will offer islanders the chance self-build their own home on one of 14 fully serviced affordable plots which will be for sale.

All the plots will have a rural housing burden on the Title Deed to ensure they are utilised only as principal residences and not as holiday or second homes.

Two of the sites have been identified. One is at Rowarden on Benlister Road, which Trust Housing previously had planning permission to build, but the development did not go ahead. A total of 18 homes are earmarked for this site. The second is at Dyemill where the housing plots would be available. The third site has not been revealed, where there would be 25 homes. Plans for these sites have now been drawn up by Ayr-based architects Denham Benn, who have also come up with innovative house designs.

A decision on phase one of the Scottish Land Fund submissions is expected when the committee meets on June 19.  If approved, this will allow the site valuations to take place – and if suitable/acceptable – the purchase of two of the identified sites.

While phase two of the Rural & Islands Housing Fund applications are now being finalised for all three sites and are due to be lodged shortly.  If approved, it will allow the purchase and installation of services on one site (self-build), and the construction/development of the other two sites, after planning permission has been sought and obtained.

The Trust is due to meet with representatives of the Scottish Government/RIHF in early June to discuss all three sites in further detail.

The Trust has also applied to become a Rural Housing Body, which allows the organisation the right of pre-emption to any land or buildings which the community feel would benefit from their support and ownership. It also allows the ADT to design and apply a local lettings policy, specifically designed to benefit the local community on Arran. The Scottish government decision on this application will be known by the end of June.

Mr Mochan said: ‘We want to build affordable homes for rent and offer self-build plots for residents and people coming to work on the island.

‘To get started an Arran Development Trust application to build 43 affordable homes, with 14 self-build plots, is in process. We have passed the first two hurdles, but we can only succeed if the Trust can demonstrate strong community support.’

Anyone can become a member of the Trust provided they are a permanent resident on the island and are over 16. There is no joining fee necessary at this time. The normal joining fee is £10 with an annual renewal of £1. However, the Trust say they are more interested in membership than money, at this stage.

Trust chairman Barry Mochan outlines the plans at one of the public events. 01_B22housing01

The Rowarden site and the house site plans. 01_B22housing02 and o1_B22housing03

The Dyemill site and self-build plots plans. 01_B22housing04 and 01_B22housing05