Focus on housing to tackle population decline

Housing in Argyll and Bute will be a key focus of ‘repopulation zone’ actions planned by the council to reverse the area’s population decline.

The national repopulation zone approach sees pilot areas taking steps to address their own particular challenges, and their experiences then being used to develop effective repopulation initiatives elsewhere.

At its Policy and Resources Committee meeting today, the council agreed these areas as pilot zones for research into issues affecting local population levels:

•          Rosneath Peninsula – Helensburgh and Lomond

•          Kintyre (Tarbert to Southend)– MAKI

•          Tiree and Coll – OLI

•          Bute – Bute and Cowal

In addition, councillors agreed that a pilot project is taken forward with a focus on addressing housing needs across the whole of Argyll and Bute.

This pilot project will include employing a settlement officer for a year, funded by the council and HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise), to examine the availability and quality of housing across Argyll and Bute, and factors such as cost, legislative barriers, land supply, and infrastructure.

The council will develop work around these repopulation zones alongside the Western Isles, Highland and North Ayrshire Councils who have also identified zones in their own areas.

Today’s decisions will go to the next meeting of CoHI (the Convention of the Highlands and Islands), as part of discussions about an inter-agency response to the acute population challenges in the Highlands and Islands.

Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council said:

“Having enough housing and of the type that people need is obviously key in making it possible and desirable for people to live their lives here in Argyll and Bute.

Our population is falling, and is predicted to continue to fall. To keep our communities and our economy going, Argyll and Bute needs local people to stay and others with key skills and investment, to move here.

The next meeting of COHI is on 25 October. We will take that opportunity to press COHI and the Scottish Government on the importance of addressing Argyll and Bute’s population challenges quickly.”

For more information see item 10 – Addressing our population challenges - at today’s Policy and Resources Committee.

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