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By Hugh Boag
A proposal to build more than 40 affordable homes on Arran has taken a significant step forward after a £3.6 million government grant was secured.
The grant to the Arran Development Trust from the Rural & Islands Housing Fund is believed to be the largest ever awarded to a community group from this fund.
The £3.612m grant will be used as part of an £8.5m financial package to provide 43 affordable rental houses, of between one and four bedrooms, across two sites in Lamlash which will help address the severe lack of affordable housing on the island.
The Banner reported in June that the funding process was progressing well and the first phase came to fruition this week.
One of the sites is at Rowarden on Benlister Road and the second has yet to be disclosed. The Trust will also be taking forward plans to provide 14 serviced self-build plots at Dyemill, also in Lamlash, and has received over 60 expressions of interest.
The Trust board hope the provision of 43 new high quality affordable rental homes will address some of the economic challenges encountered in recent years by depopulation and skills shortages in health and social care, education and the hospitality sectors by encouraging young families to return to the island.
Trust chairman Barry Mochan said: ‘This is a wonderful achievement for a community group to secure a grant offer of this magnitude and it will have such a positive immediate impact on the local community. The local community have wanted and needed this boost for so long and all the hard work getting it to this stage has finally paid off. We anticipate being in a position to start the build around Spring 2020 and are actively working on this now.’
Arran Community Council chairman Bill Calderwood said: ‘These projects were identified by the community, led by the community and will finally bear fruit for the community. There have been Arran residents registered on the Common Housing Register for 10 years or more, without hope of securing an affordable rental home, so it is great for them to know that the wait will soon be over.’
Tom Tracey, chairman of the Arran Economic Group added: ‘This is a terrific achievement for the Arran Development Trust and in economic terms, it’ll be a step change in the right direction and a major milestone on a four year journey to bring affordable housing to Arran.
Arran will now be able to attract the necessary workforce and provide affordable housing to ensure folks can remain on this beautiful island enjoying one of the highest quality of life ratings in the UK. The lack and provision of affordable housing will no longer be a constraint on the local ‘economy.’
North Ayrshire Council has been involved in supporting the group and chief executive Craig Hatton is delighted the Trust has secured such significant funding.
He said: ‘This is fantastic news for the island. We are well aware of the housing shortages on Arran and the problems islanders have in accessing good-quality affordable housing.
‘Work is due to start on our own 34-housing development at Brathwic Terrace which will be our biggest development on Arran for a generation. It’s great that this will be complemented by the development in Lamlash. While it won’t alleviate all the housing problems it is another significant step forward.’
The Trust has been supported in their efforts to secure grant funding by the Scottish housing minister Kevin Stewart, Arran MSP Kenneth Gibson and councillor Timothy Billings.
Mr Gibson said: ‘This is really great news for Arran. The SNP Government has awarded an £84,000 in grant towards each of the 43 homes to be built.
‘I am delighted, as such homes are desperately needed and so I was pleased to have arranged and participated in meetings with Arran Development Trust (ADT), NAC Chief Executive Craig Hatton and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart MSP over the last six months to pursue this. Kevin was always keen on making this award and ensured that his officials worked closely with ADT throughout.
‘ADT has done a power of work. It is their dogged determination to deliver that has brought this to fruition and special thanks are due to Sheena Borthwick, Tom Tracey and Bill Calderwood who worked so hard to make it happen, backed by the many islanders who contacted me to express their solid support for these essential new homes.’
- Meanwhile, work on the Benlister Terrace homes will not now start until January 2020, North Ayrshire Council have confirmed. Work, which was initially scheduled to start the autumn, had already been moved back to December, but this has now been delayed till the new year.
The site planned for affordable homes at Rowarden in Lamlash. 01_B45afford01
A map showing the layout of the homes at Rowarden. 01_B45afford02