Highland Council: we need 24,000 homes in 10 years

Highland Council said it has agreed a number of strategic objectives with the aim of finding solutions to the area’s housing shortage.

“It is anticipated that 24,000 new houses will be required in Highland in the next 10 years,” said the council. “This is around double that which would normally be built.”

The future demand for housing is based on an updated 10-year Housing Needs Demand Assessment, which incorporates economic modelling based on potential increases in jobs connected to the development of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Free Port.

“Highland Council and its partners are on course to meet the challenge of building 24,000 houses, but over 20 years,” said the council.

“To accelerate this will require additional investment of around £2.8 billion.

“Some solutions to future housing supply can be addressed through benefits flowing from the Social Value Charter from Renewables and from future retained business rates relating to the Green Free Port.

“The Housing Challenge will be explored in a future summit with partners, following which a Housing Challenge Action Plan will be developed.

“The summit will explore the Council’s agreed objectives including levering finance from different means; finding varied mechanisms to build new housing; flexibility regarding the ownership of housing; and finding new ways to maximise the supply of land.”

Council convener Bill Lobban said: “Affordable housing is an issue that is raised everywhere we speak to communities across the Highlands.

“For this reason, it is a high priority in the Council’s Programme and Members today have declared a Highland Housing Challenge.

“There are also many wider socio-economic benefits in providing more housing, including boosting the construction industry, regeneration of town centres and reversing depopulation of communities.

“The economic benefits continue over the longer term, through savings on housing benefit, and wider benefits including reduced homelessness, increased employment, and improved health benefits.”

Council leader Raymond Bremner said: “I have recently written to the Government to raise the issue of the Council’s Housing Revenue Account historic debt on the basis that other local authorities have had some success in this.

“Any debt write-off will be essential in freeing up investment which can be directed towards increasing the supply of affordable new build housing to meet the increasing demands of our communities.”