Members of North Lanarkshire Council have approved a plan spelling out its social housing priorities up to 2026.
The council’s Housing and Regeneration Committee endorsed the plan which covers various projects including a target of 1730 new homes in this period such as major developments on the former site of St Columba’s School in Coatbridge and Gowkthrapple in Wishaw.
Numerous homes are also to be constructed as part of the council’s plans for town centre regeneration across North Lanarkshire, with key sites including the former YMCA building in Motherwell.
The council is also running the largest “buy back” scheme in Scotland, which seeks to purchase former council properties from private ownership and return them to social rent.
Since 2010, 100 homes have been obtained, including several at Ravenscraig.
Connectivity is also an important aspect of the plans, with the council pledging that by 2023 “enabling technologies” will be included as standard in new homes.
A pilot scheme will be implemented at the Kerr Grieve Court retirement complex in Motherwell.
Climate change and fuel poverty are also shaping strategy, with the council having previously pledged to be net zero for carbon emissions by 2030 and also to significantly reduce the number of residents currently living in fuel poverty – believed to presently be as high as one third of the social housing sector which also has carbon emissions almost twice as high as the UK average.
During the meeting SNP councillor Alan Valentine asked about proposals to dispose of void properties and the the present levels of energy efficiency in North Lanarkshire homes, as those which do not meet the minimum standard cannot be rented out.
A further, stricter energy efficiency standard requires that by 2032 homes attain even better levels of energy efficiency – currently only around four per cent of existing council homes meet this standard and it is thought that almost half are unable to attain it.
A council officer clarified that the council would be unable to re-let houses which were below the required energy efficiency minimum but existing tenants would be able to remain in those properties.
Councillor Tommy Morgan said that recent Scottish Government announcements may have “kicked the legs out” from the plan as £280 million had been cut from Scotland’s social housing budget.
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“There’s clearly no priority here for social housing or it has slipped down the list,” he added.
Head of planning and regeneration Pamela Humphries said that the Scottish budget remained at around £3.4 billion, roughly in line with previous years, but costs were increasing and talks with the Scottish Government were continuing.