Affordable housing SHIP sails

Aerial shot of Straiton retail park.
Aerial shot of Straiton retail park.

Midlothian Council leaders have approved plans to deliver 1441 new affordable homes through the Strategic Housing Investment Plan 2017/18-2021/22 (SHIP).

This is a significant increase in developments from the previous SHIP, which identified the development of 672 units from 2015-16-2019/20. The increase comes on the back of a Scottish Government announcement to increase the housing budget in the country to £3 billion and raise the level of funding allocated to each unit.

At last week’s full council meeting councillors urged a more ambitious programme.

Council leader Catherine Johnstone (SNP)said: “It’s good to see that the City Deal will have a huge impact on improving the housing lot of people in this area. In this respect I propose we accept these recommendations.

“However, I’m hopeful we can be more ambitious with our housing target in the future and meet the current needs on our housing list.”

Midlothian Council has also committed to a third phase of new council housing development and the SHIP has identified 47 sites for affordable housing across a range of tenures: 475 new Council housing; 30 units bought on the open market and rented as council housing; 598 units will be RSL social rented housing; 245 units will be RSL mid market rent; 93 units will be RSL shared equity, and 115 units built as specialist provisions, such as extra care housing.

Labour councillor Alex Bennett said: “I welcome the report. Although I think Cllr Johnstone is right, we are not being ambitious enough.

“I think it’s brilliant that the Scottish Government has at last recognised that there is a housing crisis in this country. Every surgery I have, there is always somebody looking for a council house.

“However, I think the figure of 475 should be increased to at least 1,000. That’s the number of houses we should be looking to build, especially with this subsidy.”