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Information For Caithness
Archived News 2005
8 December 05
16 November 05
15 November 05
The Scottish Executive has agreed that Highland Council can safeguard some rented houses in the following ~pressured areas :
* all communities in the Badenoch & Strathspey Area.
Housing in Caithness or Sutherland is not covered by the designation.
The Council applied to the Scottish Executive following extensive consultation.
Pressured area designation means that tenants who took up a tenancy with the Council, or with an affected housing association, on or after 30 September 2002 in these designated areas have, from today, their Right to Buy (RTB) suspended for five years, i.e. until November 2010, whilst the designation is in place. This includes tenants who were given their tenancy through a transfer or mutual exchange or, in some cases, succession.
Council tenants whose tenancy started before 30 September 2002 will still be able to buy their home, as will those who don't live in the designated areas.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of The Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "This designation has been granted because of the severe shortage of affordable housing in many parts of the Highlands. Although more housing association rented housing is being built in partnership with the Council and Communities Scotland, it's not nearly enough to replace the Council housing that has been sold through the "Right to Buy".
"Communities have consistently told us that tackling this shortage should be one of our highest priorities. We are working hard with our housing partners to build new affordable homes across the Highlands but the challenge is enormous so I welcome this decision by the Scottish Executive."
A small number of Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association and Lochaber Housing Association tenants (who would have otherwise been eligible to buy) are also affected and are unable to buy their rented housing association homes through the Right to Buy. In general, other housing association tenants do not have the Right to Buy.
The Council requires to re-apply to the Scottish Executive in five years time to renew the designation if it considers that there is still a significant shortage of affordable housing.
There are a number of different ways that the Council and housing associations can help tenants to become home owners through low-cost home ownership schemes such as Homestake and rural home ownership grants (RHOGs). The Highland Council and our housing partners will continue to support all tenants, including those who have their Right to Buy suspended, to access these alternatives and become home owners.
The Council and affected housing associations will also be informing their tenants through their forthcoming newsletters.
2 November 05
Mike Greaves, The Highland Council's Head of Development and Strategy, has advised partners that the realistic conclusion of recent discussions about organising a Highland Housing Fair was that there was insufficient time to stage an event the Highlands could be proud of. A five-year lead in time was the norm.
He said: "We remain committed to organising and implementing a Highland Housing Fair and there will be an opportunity at the second Six Cities Festival in 2009 to do just that. The challenge is very much still alive."
Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of the Council's Sustainable Development Select Committee, said: "There is an enthusiasm within Highland to take the Highland Housing Fair forward. It would provide an excellent opportunity to ~showcase~ both the existing and developing good practice within our Area and demonstrate the very real commitment which exists to innovative sustainable construction and design in the Highlands. We are aware how successful such events have been in Finland and this would provide a first class promotional platform for the Highlands."
The idea of the housing fair is taken from Finland, where there is an annual fair held in a different community each year. It is the biggest outdoor event in Finland with several hundred thousand visitors, locals, tourists, architects and other design/building professionals in attendance. The plan in Highland is to stage an event in the autumn, lasting a month, which will showcase modern Highland design and technology, including the scheme's lay out and environmental features, innovative housing designs and modern interior designs.
The fair will be situated in the Inverness area as the main gateway into the Highlands to maximise industry involvement and visitor numbers. A site of several hectares comprising 15-20 houses along with a tented exhibition and visitor facilities will be required.
17 October 05
The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) has been asked to carry out the survey by the south-east Caithness Initiative at the Edge Area Steering Group, Dunbeath and Berriedale Community Council and Latheron’ Lybster and Clyth Community Council. Every household in south-east Caithness will receive a questionnaire from the HSCHT, the results from which are expected to provide a much clearer understanding of the different kinds of housing problems being experienced locally.
The survey will help to clarify whether any new houses are required to meet local needs, and if so what kind of houses and housing options are needed, how many and where they should be located. The survey is also designed to help clarify the level of local need for repairs, improvements and adaptations to existing homes. Free professional advice and grant assistance will be available to help tackle housing condition and heating cost issues identified.
However, the questionnaire is not just aimed at those who have a current housing need. It is intended to give every household an opportunity to express their views on local housing issues and their housing aspirations for their local areas. A separate questionnaire will also be sent out to every owner of a vacant, holiday or second home in the area to gauge an owner’s interest in improving their property, potentially with grant assistance, and in leasing it, either directly or through the Council or local housing association, to a local household in housing need.
Only Trust staff will see the returned questionnaires and all information provided will be treated confidentially although the numbers of overall responses to each question will form the basis of a report by the Trust which will be presented to the two Community Councils and the Initiative at the Edge Steering Group at the beginning of December.
Di Alexander, the Trust’s Development Manager said, “the Trust is just completing a similar survey of another Initiative at the Edge area in the Highlands - Glenelg and Arnisdale - which got a very good public response. We hope and believe that the results of both surveys will give the local communities - and the various agencies and housing organisations whose responsibility it is to assist them – the information they need to be able to bring new and additional housing opportunities and improvements to the households that need them.”
Eric Larnach, Local Development Officer for the south-east Caithness Initiative at the Edge area said, “This is a very important project, which has genuine potential to help our whole area. The availability of good quality, affordable housing is essential if we are to be able to maintain and develop thriving rural communities throughout south-east Caithness. I hope as many questionnaires will be returned as possible so that we can use the information to secure the additional housing resources that the area needs.
Anyone seeking further information on the survey is invited to contact Di Alexander on 01463 233548 or Eric Larnach on 01593 731455.
17 September 05
30 August 05
19 May 05
They agreed to seek permission from the Scottish Executive to designate parts of Highland as "pressured area status" thus suspending the Right to Buy for 5 years of council tenants who have new tenancies which were started on or after 30th September, 2002.
Designation of pressured area status helps to ensure that social rented housing continues to be available in areas where housing supply does not meet need and where the Right to Buy could otherwise lead to serious shortages.
The areas that the Council will apply to
the Scottish Executive for ~pressured area~ status are those which are
experiencing significant pressure on their housing stock with a significant
shortage of affordable rented housing and include:
~ All communities in Lochaber are also
included excluding Kinlochleven, and Fort William is included excluding
Plantation and the following streets in Claggan ~ Carn Dearg, The Corries
An indicative number of Council houses covered by the proposed ~pressured area status~ amounts to 8615 houses comprising: 586 in Badenoch and Strathspey; 2603 in Inverness; 1405 in Lochaber; 724 in Nairn; 2736 in Ross and Cromarty and 561 in Skye and Lochalsh.
Estimates based on past house purchase patterns have shown that without designation of ~pressured area status~ some 740 Council house tenants out of the 8615 would buy their homes in these areas. The number of Council houses that are likely to be retained as social rented housing because of this in the communities designated as ~pressured areas~ would be: 52 in Badenoch and Strathspey; 322 in Inverness; 78 in Lochaber, 53 in Nairn; 220 in Ross and Cromarty; and 15 in Skye and Lochalsh.
Following local consultation and based on information about demand, Caithness and Sutherland areas will not be included in the application for pressured area status.
Councillor Sheena Slimon, Highland Council's Housing spokesperson said: "The Council appreciates that many tenants aspire to being home owners. There are alternative ways to purchase housing and become owners through some of the low cost home ownership schemes such as through Rural Homeownership Grants and shared equity housing (~Homestake~). The Council will, by sending a newsletter to all tenants explain these options and offer support to tenants wishing to purchase a home other than their Council house."
27 March 05
19 March 05
18 March 05
"The Scottish Conservatives would welcome policies building on the fundamental principles of the Right to Buy scheme to maximise opportunities for tenants to become homeowners, and which propose to make shared ownership more flexible and affordable to more people.
Mary also called for further explanation as to why many homes sit empty; "It is often stated that Scotland does not function as a single housing market, but we must also recognise that many local authorities do not function as a single housing market. If you have a job in Inverness for example, a council house in Wick or Kinlochleven is of little use. With over 10,000 empty homes in Glasgow and plans to demolish 100 tower blocks, and Edinburgh 8,741 empty homes. Is it due to poor conditions of the properties or poor management and investment in the properties or other reasons?"
Mary further commented; "The cuts in the Supporting People funding for Highland over the next 3 years will be £2 million, making it very difficult for them to provide housing support and indeed to increase services, particularly following new homelessness legislative requirements. Highland Council has asked for a commitment that the funding available to support the introduction of homelessness legislation will be continued."
Mary also stated the Conservatives opposition to the Executive's proposals for a mandatory single seller survey; "74 surveys from a target of 1200 cannot be said to be a success. It also can hardly be used as an evidence base for future mandatory policy, with only one example of a survey in Edinburgh and only 5 completed in Inverness.
"Whilst we would welcome more information for purchasers, there are many aspects of the single seller survey which need to be examined: "In particular, I think we can agree that it will take longer to sell older properties due to the complexity of the survey and the extent of repair. We also await confirmation that new homes with the 10 year national Housing building guarantee would be exempt from this survey."
25 February 05