Bid to cement plan for 8000 new homes

New council houses will be targeted at young families and professionals. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
New council houses will be targeted at young families and professionals. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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THOUSANDS of extra affordable homes are to be built by the city council across the Capital over the next decade.

Tenants will get cut-price internet access, triple glazing and land for growing fruit and vegetables under proposals aimed at transforming the public perception of council houses.

A new package of measures includes plans for “discount cards” and specialist loans, payable to homeowners living in mixed private and council house accommodation, for shared improvement and repair work.

And residents would be offered cheaper gas and electricity once a deal is signed with a low-cost supplier.

If new investment – increasing the planned number of homes from 3000 to 8000 – is approved, the measures would bring the city’s council house sector into line with counterparts in Germany and many other European countries, where renting from local authorities is much more mainstream.

It is not yet known exactly how many of the new homes will be reserved for existing and future council tenants.

However, fresh blueprints indicate there will be a mix of council houses, homes for mid-market rent and affordably priced properties.

City leaders have also revealed they are in talks with housing associations about matching their commitment, potentially delivering 16,000 affordable homes.

According to the council’s projections, around 48,000 in total will be needed across Edinburgh over the next decade.

Housing leader Cammy Day said: “This puts council housing on a different level.

“I think it will bring forward a different market for council housing. It will be high-quality, energy-efficient housing and will create a completely different buzz within communities.

“With the benefits cap and welfare reform, people are really struggling, and these measures are designed to help.”

Shelter Scotland, the housing and homelessness charity, welcomed the plans.

Director Graeme Brown said: “At a time when 27,268 households are on the waiting list for a home in the city and 447 homeless children will wake up in temporary accommodation this Christmas, the council’s commitment is a big step in the right direction to tackling the chronic shortage of affordable homes.”

However, industry representatives have urged the council to avoid focusing on affordable homes.

A spokeswoman at Homes for Scotland said: “Based on the agreed targets for home-building in Edinburgh, there is a ­significant gap between ­housing need/demand and supply.

“This applies to both private and ‘affordable’ housing which is why we are calling for a significant increase of homes across all tenures across the country in our manifesto for next year’s Scottish elections.”