The small island of Iona – population 177 – is to benefit from a £361,000 investment from Argyll and Bute Council towards building five new houses for rent.,
They will be the first houses for rent to be built on the island for over 30 years, and the development will more than double the social housing available for rent on the island, which has a total of 69 households.
The Strategic Housing Fund grant was agreed by the council’s community services committee, in recognition of the importance of affordable housing in maintaining and developing the area’s economy and growing its population.
The council’s Policy Lead for Housing, Councillor Robin Currie, said, “The Economic Summit held recently in Dunoon recognised developments such as this as being critical to the aim of the council’s Single Outcome Agreement which is, to build economic success and a growing population.
“As an islander myself – I live on Islay – I can’t emphasise enough the importance of affordable housing in attracting people to live on our islands, accommodating growing families and providing homes for incoming workers. The challenges and costs of building on Iona have been overcome through close partnership working between our housing team, West Highland Housing Association and Iona Housing Partnership, who have pulled out all the stops to get the funding package together. We are all absolutely delighted that this funding is going ahead.”
The development of 2 x 3-bedroomed and 3 x 2-bedroomed terraced homes will be undertaken by the West Highland Housing Association with additional funding from the Scottish Government of £426,000, a further £150,000 from Iona Housing Partnership and West Highland Housing Association private finance of £227,000.
Murray Sim Chair of West Highland Housing Association, said, “West Highland Housing Association are delighted to have this opportunity to work with the Council and Iona Housing Partnership.”
A spokesperson for Iona Housing Partnership said, “Iona Housing Partnership is delighted at the outcome of the meeting today and look forward to the development being completed much sooner with this crucial award from the Council. IHP would also like to thank those who have supported the Glebe Field Project for the last decade by raising funds to both buy the land and then enable the plans to be ready for building. This will help the local community to consolidate the regeneration success that is happening by providing much needed homes for those who are committed to staying on the island permanently. IHP are looking forward to working with West Highland Housing Association to deliver the scheme as planned.”
Iona has shown its determination and potential for growth with a population increase from 125 in 2001 to 177 shown in the 2011 Census, and with the number of households increasing from 57 in 2001 to 69 in 2011.
One of 23 inhabited islands in Argyll and Bute, Iona has limited infrastructure and the development of five properties has a number of challenges that impact on the overall costs. A major archaeological survey was required at the cost £43,000. Further, the sewage outfall that is required will be around 300m creating one of the longest sewage outfalls for affordable housing in Argyll.
The time and cost for transporting raw materials and labour to a rural island location for such a development can add between 30 - 45% dependant on the location of the Island and its transport links to the mainland.