Annual progress of Aberdeenshire local housing strategy discussed

The progress being made to deliver Aberdeenshire Council’s five-year local housing strategy has been outlined to councillors.

An annual report on the strategy, which began in 2018 and runs until 2023, was considered by the Communities Committee at its meeting on Thursday (Sept 3).

The document focuses on six priorities relating to affordable housing; energy efficiency, fuel poverty and climate change; homelessness and housing options; independent living; minority ethnic communities; and private sector housing.

It aligns with Scottish Government guidance on the development of local housing strategies and since it was developed has also taken account of recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group.

In turn, that led to the development of the rapid rehousing transition plans, which replace actions related to homelessness in existing local housing strategies. 

A report before councillors highlighted that 24 out of 33 indicators in the strategy are currently on track, and that the impact of Covid-19 and the work being done to address has been taken into consideration.

Highlights include the establishment of an affordable housing hub, the development of a ‘matchmaker’ scheme to make it easier for people wanting to buy an empty property to connect with property owners, and a successful bid for funding to support the installation of energy efficiency measures in properties.

Over the past year, a total of 249 properties were built in towns across Aberdeenshire under the authority’s new build programme. Work has now begun on a further 297 properties.

Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling said afterwards: “Aberdeenshire Council has delivered more affordable housing than it has in recent times which clearly demonstrates that the policy direction we are taking is absolutely being delivered by our teams who are to be commended.

“This annual report highlights the very good progress which has been made and, on behalf of the Communities Committee, I would like to thank all those officers who have been involved in the development and delivery of this five-year local housing strategy.”

Committee vice-chair Cllr Doreen Mair added: “There is much to be commended in this annual report and I would particularly like to thank the service for its commitment over recent years in resettling more than 200 Syrian New Scots in Aberdeenshire.

“This has been a very complex and carefully-managed initiative that has seen nearly 60 families safely settled in Aberdeenshire and I am delighted to see our towns and villages embracing their new neighbours and helping them find their place in the community.”