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Scots planning bill is an ‘opportunity’ to deliver affordable housing

Words: Laura Edgar
New homes / Shutterstock_84968503

The Planning (Scotland) Bill is an opportunity to put in place a system that delivers a longer-term, increased supply of affordable housing, according to the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA).

In its response to the inquiry into the planning bill, the SFHA noted that while the Scottish Government’s target to build 50,000 affordable homes, is “extremely welcome”, this bill must make provision for increasing the supply of affordable housing beyond this parliamentary term, which ends in 2021.

The representative for housing associations in Scotland, which has 126 members providing affordable housing, has proposed a number of changes be made to the bill in a bid to increase the supply of affordable housing of all tenures. These include:

  • The SFHA supports the provision for simplified planning zones (SPZs) for housing, but for them to meet housing need and deliver wider policy benefits, they should be developed based on local housing needs, including what type and tenure is required.
  • The bill should make provision for the transfer of land at existing use value in order to increase the supply of affordable housing.
  • Planning approval, or the purchase of a site with the intention of the development for housing, does not always lead to delivery of homes in the near future. SFHA believes that the use of Compulsory Sales Orders for land that has not been developed, and has lain empty for five years, would help to increase housing supply.

David Stewart, policy lead at SFHA, said: “Longer-term investment in affordable housing will have wide-ranging benefits for Scotland and its people.

“Building affordable housing results in economic growth as it creates jobs and apprenticeships.

“Good-quality, warm, affordable housing has a vital role to play in improving the nation’s health, as not only is it vital for a person’s mental and physical well-being, but it can allow people with specific needs, such as older or disabled people, to stay in their own homes.

“The planning bill presents a significant opportunity to commit to longer-term housing investment which will not only provide much-needed homes but allow the government to continue to tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland.”

Read more:

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RTPI Scotland: Clearer national roadmap for development needed 

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RTPI Scotland: Ministers need to consider issues beyond planning system 

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