The council’s Business Continuity Committee on Thursday (14 May 2020) approved £28,900 from the Strategic Housing Fund be awarded to the Colonsay Community Development Company (CCDC) towards purchasing land at Scalasaig, Colonsay in order to deliver much-needed affordable housing for the island.
CCDC has had positive discussions Colonsay Estate to purchase land to purchase the land. The Development Company has already secured £375,000 in funding from the Scottish Land Fund and the council contribution will bridge the funding gap.
CCDC’s plan is for six affordable housing units in the first phase of its development – three for rent and three for low-cost home ownership. There will also be three affordable self-build plots.
The low cost home ownership and the self-build plots will have a Rural Housing Burden attached to ensure that the housing remains affordable when sold.
This development will complement the West Highland Housing Association plan to build five affordable houses at Lower Kilchatten.
Councillor Robin Currie, Policy Lead for Housing, Roads and Infrastructure Services, said: “Argyll and Bute’s economic future is based on growing its population. Affordable housing, particularly on our islands, is key to that.
“That’s why we’re delighted to support a community-led initiative that provides exactly what the island needs – housing that will encourage people to stay on the island or attract new families and businesses. The development will also provide new job opportunities through construction, stimulating the local economy further.”
In December 2004, council decided to exercise its discretion to reduce the discount for council tax for second and holiday homes across the whole council area from 50% to 10%. Subsequently, on 18 May 2006, the Strategic Policy Committee agreed that this revenue should be used flexibly, depending on local circumstances, for the establishment of:
A Landbanking fund;
An Empty Homes Strategy, and
To promote additional investment in infrastructure capacity, where further development of affordable housing is otherwise constrained.
In line with Scottish Government guidance, which states that additional income rising from the reduced discount of council tax on second and holiday homes be retained locally by the local authority and used specifically for the provision of affordable social housing, the Strategic Housing Fund (SHF) was created to allow for allocations in support of priority projects emerging from the Local Housing Strategy (LHS).
There are around 100 homes on the island of Colonsay, of which 30% are deemed ineffective in terms of meeting local needs i.e 25 are second/holiday homes and a further five are empty/long term unoccupied. ACHA and West Highland Housing Association currently provide 10 houses for social rent which amounts to only 10% of the total dwelling stock or 14% of the occupied stock.
This is well below national levels. An affordable housing need has been identified on the Isle of Colonsay and has had representation in the council’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) since 2014.