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By Hugh Boag
Work could start early next year on a new £3 million affordable housing development in Lamlash.
In a significant step forward, the Arran Development Trust has applied for planning permission for a development of 18 new rental homes at Rowarden on Benlister Road. This would be a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom homes.
It is a huge boost for the island and its economy given the present uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and will be the second recent boost to affordable housing after the 34 council houses presently under construction in Brodick.
It is the first project of the development trust, which was set up as the housing operational arm of the Arran Development Trust, although two others are in the pipeline.
Trust secretary Sheena Borthwick-Toomey told the Banner: ‘We’re delighted that we’ve finally got everything lodged with the planning department for the first project at Rowarden, Lamlash.
‘We are hoping to get started as early in the new year as possible, but everything is dependent on the planning permission coming through and also the appointment of the contractor, which we are hopeful will be sometime in December. It is a busy and exciting time for the ADT and we’re all looking forward to a great outcome for the local community.’
A design statement, submitted by architects Denham Benn to planners, states: ‘The site is a field which has lain vacant for some years, and is identified within the North Ayrshire Local Plan as part of the ‘general urban area’ within the settlement map for Lamlash. The site is semi-rural due to its location on the edge of the settlement.
‘The proposed development is part of a concerted effort to address the shortage in affordable housing in the island, providing general needs housing for working families. These homes will contribute to sustaining the island community throughout the seasons. The need for affordable housing in Arran for key workers in various sectors which employ staff within the island is well documented.
‘It is proposed that the new homes will be built with an exterior finish of corrugated, or sinusoidal metal, or pre-stained pine, or render (for the walls) with sinusoidal metal or standing seam metal (for the roofs). The proposed materials reflect a rural Scottish aesthetic with a contemporary feel.’
In a statement in support of the planning application the Arran Development Trust states: ‘A critical lack of affordable housing on Arran was formally identified in 2007. Many reports and studies have followed identifying the critical shortage as a primary constraint on growth and a depopulation driver.
‘The latest, by the Fraser of Allander, again highlights high house prices and a lack of affordable homes as a probable cause of depopulation. We are starting to fix this, but it is possible we could miss the opportunity.
‘It is essential for the Arran community’s future sustainability that NAC and the ADT work together to recognise the immediate needs of the island and provide solutions to the challenges.
‘There have been many years of inaction and broken commitments from various social housing providers and this situation can no longer continue if Arran is to thrive and grow. This is the entire premise of the Arran Development Trust and its reason for existence.’
The development is under consideration by council planning officials.