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Call for new first minister to make it easier to build homes in Scotland

Call for new first minister to make it easier to build homes in Scotland

Housebuilders north of the border are calling on Scotland’s new first minister, Humza Yousaf, to engage with business and remove obstacles hampering the delivery of new homes.

The appeal coincides with government housing statistics reporting a 12 per cent fall in new starts, down by 2,580 to 19,227, in the year to the end of September 2022. There was also a 27 per cent drop in housing association approvals to build new homes.

Homes for Scotland, HFS, chief executive Jane Wood said: “His appointment presents the perfect opportunity to review the regulatory areas and other issues creating blockers to residential development across sectors to ensure that housing in Scotland meets the needs and aspirations of everyone living here.”

The trade body, which represents 200 Scottish housebuilders, has warned the government’s target to build more than 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 will be difficult to hit.

Recent planning guidance for new developments to comprise at least 25 per cent of social housing, and the introduction of Passivhaus energy standards by the end of 2024, have caused concern.

Supply chain capacity fears over Passivhaus

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations said Passivhaus would result in higher building and maintenance costs and that supply chain capacity is insufficient to deliver these homes at scale.

Scottish Property Federation director Robin Blacklock said: “There’s been a wider concern among the business community about the direction of policies and their relationship with businesses.”

The Scottish building industry has said while it supports the country’s ambitious net-zero targets it’s worried about the practicalities of achieving them.

Scotland has pledged to be net-zero by 2045 – five years earlier than England with both Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils aiming to be net-zero by 2030. It also hopes to take one million homes off the gas grid with alternative energy sources such as electric heat pumps by 2030.

“There is a concern about meeting time scales as we’re still trying to recover performance after the Covid pandemic,” said Mr Blacklock.

Blacklock added developers and housebuilders would be seeking to develop a positive relationship with Mr Yousaf where business is seen as a means for achieving new housing objectives.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders would like to see a speedier response to planning applications as this was one of the biggest hurdles facing SME housebuilders.

Mr Yousaf has taken an active interest in housing in particular tackling the shortage of homes for key workers in remote parts of the country. He has also said he would increase council tax on second homes across the Highlands, islands and north-east to limit holiday homes.

He narrowly beat Kate Forbes on the 27th of March to become the first minister. His Scottish National Party government is in a coalition with the Green party, which commentators predict will require careful handling.

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BDC 318 : Jul 2024