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‘Huge effort’ needed to deliver affordable homes, says Grant

The affordable housing development at Quoys.
The affordable housing development at Quoys in Lerwick. Photo: Hjaltland Housing Association

SHETLAND Islands Council’s development director Neil Grant has highlighted the importance of working with industry to deliver more than 300 affordable homes and ensure the local authority doesn’t end up handing funding back to the government.

Grant said the target of delivering 316 homes – as well as encouraging private developers to build more – would require a “huge effort”.

The bulk of the new homes will go at either end of Lerwick, with “masterplans” being developed for both the Staney Hill in the north and the former AHS site at the Knab in the south of town.

But Grant spoke of proposals being developed in Scalloway, Sandwick and Tingwall, while there could be smaller numbers of homes built in remoter areas including Walls, Sandness and Northmavine.

SIC development director Neil Grant. Photo: Shetland News.

The two masterplans are “really important bits of work”, Grant said, and the council is “in the process of meeting with builders and developers to better understand their need, and for them to understand the council and community’s aspirations for housing”.

Last year the Scottish Government announced over £14 million in funding for the SIC and Hjaltland Housing Association to invest in new homes by 2021.

“Working with the builders and utilities and everyone else has to happen,” he told councillors during Monday morning’s development committee meeting, “or we’re at risk of not achieving the 316 houses, and at risk of giving money back to the government because we don’t get the number of houses on the ground.”

South Mainland councillor Allison Duncan asked: “What plans do we have to encourage private development? For example, has any thought been given to implement a mortgage scheme – that the council developed approximately 30 years ago – to be reintroduced?”

In response, SIC head of housing Anita Jamieson said a pilot scheme had been carried out in the Highlands on a self-build mortgage scheme and the council is “waiting on guidance as to what it’s going to look like and how we access it”.

Duncan was also assured that options for new affordable housing in the South Mainland were being explored.