Lar Housing has a good plan - Angus Robertson

St Kentigern's church on the Union Canal at FountainbridgeSt Kentigern's church on the Union Canal at Fountainbridge
St Kentigern's church on the Union Canal at Fountainbridge
For years, I have walked my dogs along the Union Canal and around Fountainbridge.

Tucked away next to the bridge by Broughton High School, St Kentigern’s church stands. Until recently, it was largely dilapidated. As a former tour guide, I have an in-built curiosity about old buildings and their use and have always wanted to see inside, especially after its impressive facelift.

Recently my curiosity was sated as I was shown around by its developers, Lar Housing Trust.

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Lar is a charity that builds affordable housing. They renovate historic buildings as well as create entirely new and environmentally sound developments. This one incorporates ground source heat pumps, among other things. The residencies they have created—ranging in size but all at around half the cost of comparable private rentals—are impressively designed and homely.

Lar Housing Trust’s funding model is equally notable. With a 55-million-pound Scottish Government loan, Lar has managed to create a stable growth model that utilises public funds as well as private investment. No grant funding is used, meaning all public funds accessed are reimbursed in full. The result is much-needed affordable housing. Win-win.

Over 23 developments have been built across Scotland by Lar, and a further 10 are either in planning or under construction.

Under the leadership of CEO Ann Leslie and Chair Ken Mackintosh—who many will remember as a previous Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament—Lar Housing Trust has proven a sustainable funding and building offer we should be embracing with both hands.

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