£25 million made available for affordable homes in rural Scotland

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Some £25 million has been made available in Scotland to fund an estimated 500 new and refurbished affordable homes in rural areas. The new Rural Housing Fund aims to increase the supply of long term affordable housing in rural areas over the next three years through grants for building of new homes and refurbishing existing buildings. The funding is split into two parts. The main fund will offer grant and loan support. There will also be a feasibility fund offering up to £10,000 grant to help developers scope out potential projects and develop robust, fully evidenced, applications for main funding. Support will be available for new build, refurbishment of empty properties and conversion of commercial and non-domestic properties for residential housing. The resulting properties will have to be offered either for sale or rental at an affordable level. The fund will be available to legally constituted bodies which may include private landowners, private developers, community development trusts and housing trusts amongst others and collaboration is encouraged between different providers. ‘Good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland’s remote and rural communities. We are committed to improving lives across all areas of Scotland by making sure homes are affordable, attractive, and warm,’ said Housing Minister Margaret Burgess. ‘We know building affordable housing in rural areas presents different challenges compared to urban areas which is why we are ensuring this fund is open to rural interests, including community bodies, private landlords and landowners,’ she added. The move has been widely welcomed. Derek Logie, chief executive of Rural Housing Scotland, said that it has the potential to offer a huge boost to the delivery of affordable rural housing. ‘We are particularly pleased that community organisations can apply to the fund and access feasibility support. Developing affordable rural housing has many challenges. We hope the Rural Housing Fund will help rural communities to overcome these and deliver good quality, warm and affordable housing,’ he added. Scottish Land and Estates also welcomed the move but warned that a consistent private housing policy is still required to rejuvenate the sector. ‘We are delighted that recognition has been given to the additional problems and costs that developing new housing in rural areas brings,’ said Katy Dickson, policy officer for business and property at Scottish Land and Estates. ‘Previous schemes such as Rural Homes for Rent, which we were at the forefront of developing, were pioneering in their delivery of affordable rural housing but it should be recognised that many land-based businesses are consistently delivering homes at an affordable level without the help of public money,’ she explained. ‘We now need to see consistent private housing policy. The Scottish Government is providing this fund to assist the development of rural affordable housing while also taking the Private Tenancies Bill through parliamentary process. The Bill may result in a reduced number of landlords willing to… Taylor Scott International

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