AN ambitious five-year housing plan has been drawn up outlining how more than 600 homes could be built in East Renfrewshire over the next five years.

Proposals set to be submitted to the Scottish Government by East Renfrewshire Council lay out how the authority will deliver affordable homes between 2020 and 2025.

These include 561 units of social rented housing and 50 “rental off the shelf” purchases, with around 10 per cent of new units expected to be suitable for particular needs, such as wheelchair users.

Cabinet members will be asked to approve the plan at a meeting tomorrow.

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The Scottish Government’s affordable housing supply programme aims to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by 2021, with East Renfrewshire set to receive £6.3million of funding in 2019/20 and £6.7m in 2020/21.

Council priorities include providing housing to meet a range of needs, including family homes and those suitable for the elderly.

They will pick the developments with the “greatest certainty over timing and deliver-ability”.

The scheme, known as the Strategic Housing Investment Plan, will run beyond the government funding currently announced. 

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“However, Scottish Government guidance advises councils should plan for funding to continue at the 2019 level,” a report to cabinet members reveals.

“To help meet need and demand across the council area, the plan is intentionally weighted to building in the Eastwood area, with proposals to build approximately 299 social rented homes in Eastwood with the balancing 263 homes being built in Levern Valley.”

Work has begun on plans to purchase 50 properties from the open market to support new-build projects. These purchases, known as “rental off the shelf”, will also target the Eastwood area, adding to the social rented stock.

They will attract a Scottish Government subsidy of 50 per cent of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £50,000 per purchase.

In addition to the government programme funding, the council can subsidise the building of affordable homes through money raised from commuted sums, whereby developers pay the council a sum in lieu of providing the required affordable housing, and through second home council tax discounts.

Once the plans are submitted, the government will set out the agreed projects to be funded in East Renfrewshire.

“Demand for new social rented housing, especially new council housing, continues to exceed supply,” the report by the council’s director of environment Andrew Cahill states.

“The need to identify available sites is an on ongoing challenge and to assist with this additional staffing resources have been made available. 

“However the private ownership of a number of sites means that development timescales cannot always be controlled by the council.”

It adds: “Members should be aware that the programme is heavily reliant on the private sector bringing forward developments, presenting an element of risk in delivery timescales which may result in uncommitted resources being redistributed by the Scottish Government.

“Whilst some of the sites in the plan are owned by the council, some are brownfield sites, where significant abnormal works costs may be incurred on these sites. This has to be factored into the calculations when assessing if a proposed development is viable.”
Consultation on the plan was carried out with stakeholders.