More affordable homes are expected to be created in Scotland’s rural communities with the launch today of the Scottish Government’s Empty Homes Loan Fund.
Ministers announced they would set up the fund with £2 million earlier this year. However, as the scheme opened for bids today, the First Minister announced that double that amount would be available, with the extra cash being targeted to help rural communities in particular.
First Minister Alex Salmond made the announcement today during a visit to the home of the Macleod family in Drumnadrochit – a new build created alongside the conversion of the old Glen Urquhart (Drumnadrochit) High School into housing.
Mr Salmond said:
“Making more affordable housing available is a priority across the country, but the need is particularly acute in places like the Highlands and that’s why we are doubling our investment in the Empty Homes Loan Fund.
“Families like the Macleods – a nursing student and oil industry worker who have three kids – are the lifeblood of our rural towns and villages and this extra £2 million will help more people be able to afford to stay where their skills are much needed.
“Their home on the site of the redeveloped Glen Urquhart High School in Drumnadrochit is a terrific example of how vacant properties which can fall into disrepair and be a blight on our communities can be brought back to life.
“This development is imaginative and meets the needs of its community – the old high school is a listed building that has been redeveloped sensitively, and the site also now incorporated social rented housing like the Macleods’ home.
“From today we are seeking bids for loans to help bring at least 160 empty homes back into use as much-needed extra affordable housing. This is part of our commitment to deliver at least 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this parliament – with at least £730 million available for housing over the next three years.
“Doubling the Empty Homes Loan Fund is a major milestone towards achieving this aim and making more affordable homes available for families like the Macleods.”
Kristen Hubert, Coordinator of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, hosted by Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, said:
“The funding of incentives for empty home owners is a key ingredient in successfully bringing private sector empty homes back into use and we are delighted that the National Empty Homes Loan Fund has been extended to £4m.
“This should allow even more exciting empty homes projects to be funded across the country. We intend to help councils and their partners to make the most of this opportunity.”
Councillor Drew Hendry, the leader of Highland Council, said:
“The Highland Council welcomes the Scottish Government’s proposal to introduce an Empty Homes Loan Fund.
“We will continue to work with them and our partners to bring empty properties, both in public and private ownership, back into use for the good of the community.”