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How can Housing Developments Support Smaller Communities?

3 min

Image Credit: Communities Housing Trust
Construction work has begun on a community-led development in the main village of Inverarish. Housing Industry Leaders explores how the project is showing how housing developments can support people in smaller communities.

The project is being led by Raasay Development Trust with the support from the Communities Housing Trust.

It will include homes for social rent with Lochalsh & Skye Housing Association, and community-owned homes for affordable rent with Raasay Development Trust.

There will also be five affordable self-build plots available, two with Raasay Development Trust and three with the Communities Housing Trust.

All the plots will be discounted with the Rural Housing Burden, which assures affordability in perpetuity for the local community.

There Is A Huge Demand For Affordable Housing

Raasay has seen a recent increase in demand for affordable housing, with 32 people on the Highland Housing Register waiting list. These new and much-needed homes will prioritise people with a link or who need to live on the island.

Chair of Raasay Development Trust, Iain Hector Ross, explained that it is essential to implement affordable housing because it will boost the economy of the community: “Raasay has a clear and present need for new affordable housing stock to meet the growing demand from young islanders choosing to stay and others wanting to move to the island for increasing work opportunities.

“We are fortunate that the island is enjoying an era of growing economic confidence and opportunity, where young people now see a long-term future for themselves here.”

Quality housing is vital to support that future and we hope that the delivery of these new homes is just the first step towards providing every young islander with an affordable option.

The community-owned site was purchased by Raasay Development Trust from North Raasay Sheep Stock Club, with funding from the Scottish Land Fund in 2020.

Further key funding has been provided by the Scottish Government’s Rural & Islands Housing Fund, and the Ecology Building Society, who may also be able to provide mortgages for the self-build homes.

Jon Lee, Community House Lead at Ecology Building Society expressed that seeing more self-builds will help build towards a more sustainable future: “We’re excited once again to work alongside the other funders to support this development on Raasay.”

Providing funding for affordable, energy-efficient, community-led housing and encouraging sustainable self-build particularly chimes with our mission to build a greener society.

Affordable Housing Will Encourage Diversity In Communities

Providing affordable housing for small and island communities is vital to helping to grow communities. In these areas, where population levels are fragile and housing demand outstrips supply, every house plays a key role in safeguarding the future of the community.

Bigger communities have more access to council and housing association homes and support, compared to smaller ones. Funding and projects like this one are highlighting this need for smaller communities to be provided with the same support.

Affordable housing has been shown to have a wide range of positive effects on people’s health and well-being and will help to establish long-term communities. Encouraging diversity and creating new job openings will boost the economy as more people will want to move to the area, stimulate regeneration and cause more people to want to stay. This will have a positive effect on the community because there will be fewer empty and abandoned homes and therefore, less crime in the area.

Skye-based James MacQueen Building Contractors began construction work on site this week, and it is expected that the work will be completed in summer 2024.