The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust
The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) is a not for profit charity specialised in working with rural communities to secure long-term solutions to local housing needs. HSCHT often help communities work with local housing partners such as Local Authorities and Housing Associations to increase the range of alternative housing options available while focusing on the specific requirements of each community. The range of housing options available are vast and will be discussed in more detail shortly.
The Local Consultation
The local community feel there is a clear need for alternative housing options in the area. In order to establish demand HSCHT were invited by the Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust to hold a local consultation in the Templar Arts and Leisure Centre (TALC) in Tarbert. The event ran over two days and aimed to establish an understanding of the main housing needs in the area. The attendees discussed a range of housing options, many of which fill the gap between social housing and market value property for example, self-build plots and finance or rent to buy.
The first session was on the 23rd August and ran from 2pm to 7.30pm to allow those who had work commitments to attend in the evening. We had a steady inflow of individuals and couples visit us that expressed their interest in alternative accommodation. The majority of the enquiries focused on housing that would meet individuals current and future needs, affordable to either rent or buy, and located in the centre of Tarbert or Skipness. In addition, local landowners attended the event to express their support for additional housing in the area.
The local consultation continued on the 24th of August from 9am to 1pm to ensure we offered everyone the opportunity that wanted to attend. Along with their own housing concerns, attendees often raised the issue of young families in housing need but very few families actually attended the events.
Housing for Families
On more than one occasion we were informed that there were several young families living in inadequate accommodation due to high market prices and a limited supply of housing, although very few attended the events. In an attempt to reach out to the younger generation and those with busy lifestyles, we launched an online housing survey on Facebook via local Tarbert and Argyll pages. We hope that this online strategy will reach a wider audience including those that wish to move back to the Tarbert and Skipness area.
It is important to encourage those who are currently living in unsuitable housing to have their voice heard as this will be the building blocks to providing evidence of a need for housing in the area. The Tarbert and Skipness community currently have a great opportunity to take advantage of existing Scottish Government mechanisms to deliver a housing project quickly. For this to happen though we need those who have a housing need to talk to us and express their requirements otherwise they will miss out on this opportunity.
Home Argyll – Register your interest!
We asked every individual that passed through the TALC doors whether they had registered their interest with Home Argyll. The responses received varied from ‘yes’ to ‘what is that?’. Home Argyll is a partnership organisation made up of the following five partners: Argyll and Bute Council, Argyll Community Housing Association, West Highland Housing Association, Dunbritton Housing Association and Fyne Homes. These partners determine where to provide additional social housing based on the housing waiting list therefore if an individual has a need for social rented housing in a specific area it should be highlighted through Home Argyll. It is easy to register your interest online but to make it even easier, here is the link: https://www.homeargyll.co.uk/
How do HSCHT assist communities and individuals?
HSCHT understand that some individuals and families may want a home to call their own or a specific housing tenure but cannot compete with open market prices. It is therefore our objective to identify communities where an increased supply of affordable housing would further enhance their economic and social benefits. As HSCHT is a not for profit charity our aim is to provide community benefit to support the longevity of each community we work with. This is achieved by complementing existing housing provision and working closely with housing partners. With 20’ years’ experience, we have a range of unique housing solutions on offer:
· Rent to Buy
· Shared Equity
· Live-Work Units
· Self-Build Loan Fund
· Faulds Memorial Fund
· Discounted Serviced Self-Build Plots
· Deferred Plot Payment
· Empty Homes
· Other housing options
You can find out more about HSCHT on our website: http://www.hscht.co.uk/
Housing for Businesses and Service Providers
HSCHT acknowledge that businesses often struggle to recruit and retain staff due to a shortage of available housing in rural settlements which subsequently causes a negative economic impact on their business and surrounding area. Furthermore, a lack of suitable housing in Tarbert and Skipness can inhibit any new business start-ups. The online survey provides the opportunity for staff from local businesses or owners or those wishing to start a new business in Tarbert or Skipness to raise any issues they may have as a direct consequence of housing and to tell us how we can help.
Population projections for Argyll and Bute indicate an increasing need for service provision from the NHS and emergency services. HSCHT encourage those specialising in service provision to ask their staff to complete the online housing needs survey as their presence in rural communities is essential. It is imperative to ensure an appropriate range of housing options is available to meet key service provider’s needs into the future.
The housing event in Tarbert attracted 25 individuals over the course of two days. The information gathered over the two-day event is invaluable, but we need more people to come forward. If there are families, individuals or couples living in Tarbert, near Tarbert or wish to move to Tarbert or Skipness that cannot find suitable housing, we urge you to complete our online survey that can be found on Facebook or www.hscht.co.uk/surveys to register your interest in acquiring housing that meets your needs. Unfortunately, if there is insufficient demand for alternative housing options in Tarbert and Skipness there will be no strong evidence to support future housing development.
Tarbert and Skipness are located in a beautiful area in Argyll & Bute. Our aim is to improve the social and economic welfare of both settlements by increasing the availability of affordable housing options but it all starts with you. Please, register your interest either through Home Argyll, our online housing survey, or by talking to a member of the Tarbert and Skipness Community Trust. There is always a solution!
Online survey link: www.hscht.co.uk/surveys
This blog will feature a wide variety of HSCHT’s developments and types of projects located throughout the Scottish Highlands. It will also include the latest news and updates regarding the trust.