THE first homes to be built under a new Scotland-wide housing initiative are under construction in Musselburgh.
The LAR (Local Affordable Rented) model, bringing together government cash and private investment, is intended to help people who do not qualify for social housing but cannot afford private sector rents. Edinburgh and the Lothians are one of the target areas, where the biggest need has been identified.
Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil visited the Pinkie Mains development in Musselburgh to launch the Local Affordable Rented Housing Trust, a charity set up to provide long-term mid-market rented housing across the country.
It is being funded by a £55 million Scottish Government loan, with matching private investment expected to lift the overall funding package to more than £100m.
Housebuilders and developers are being invited to work with LAR and local authorities to help meet growing demand for affordable housing.
In Musselburgh, East Lothian Council and Taylor Wimpey are set to deliver the first LAR homes – four one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom flats – which are expected to be completed by December.
LAR builds on the Scottish Government’s National Housing Trust initiative and means almost 4000 new affordable homes have been approved since 2012, through a range of innovative financing mechanisms, unlocking up to £500,000 of housing investment.
Mr Neil said: “We continue to lead the way in the UK in developing innovative financial models, such as guarantees, loans, grant recycling and new sources of private funding to accelerate the supply of affordable homes. These pioneering approaches help us to make taxpayers’ money stretch further.
“LAR will deliver up to 1000 homes for mid-market rent, offering tenants high quality, affordable homes across Scotland, supporting local communities, tackling inequality and addressing housing need.
“These homes will be in addition to the 30,000 affordable homes, of which at least two-thirds will be for social rent, that will be delivered by the end of this parliament. And there is potential for this model to be extended more widely to meet the significant demand for mid-rent housing.”
Raymond Williamson, chairman of LAR, said his team were looking at development sites across Scotland where they could buy homes which had been completed or were being built.
East Lothian housing leader Norman Hampshire said: “We have brought around 100 new council homes on stream recently and are working with the Scottish Government and our partners in the private and social-rented sectors to assure a good supply of affordable housing in East Lothian”.