Housing sector

Scotland’s housing sector can build back better – Diana MacLean

The number of new homes being built in Scotland fell to the lowest level for over 70 years in 2020.

Those of us in the Scottish housing industry would do well to wonder about the second half of this statement.

Earlier this year, exclusive analysis by Riverside Scotland for The Scotsman showed the number of new homes being built in Scotland fell to the lowest level in over 70 years. The number of new homes fell by more than a third in 2020.

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During the first lockdown in spring 2020, construction sites were closed and projects were delayed. Funding sources dried up and projects remained unfinished. As in many other sectors of our economy, housing construction has slowed as people’s lives have been disrupted.

Riverside Scotland Chief Executive Diana MacLean

Figures show that 14,834 new homes were added to the national housing stock in 2020. This figure was down from 22,673 in 2019 and ended three years of increases. Local authorities and housing associations in Scotland completed 4,200 new homes, down 28.9% from 2019.

The impact of the pandemic has certainly been felt in the housing sector, but the concern is that a failure to recover from the 2020 downturn could have a long-term effect on housing availability across the country. Scotland.

Last year, the Scottish Government unveiled its new 20-year housing strategy, which planned to provide 100,000 affordable homes over the next decade, at least 70% of which would be social rent.

At a time when the cost of living continues to rise, it is vital that affordable housing construction recovers from the lows of the pandemic.

The housing crisis does not only affect buyers and sellers. This creates a widening chasm of affordability over the price of putting a roof over your head.

It is estimated that around 8% of the Scottish population has experienced homelessness. If the 2020 pandemic-induced housing construction lows are not resolved, this number could unfortunately increase.

As an organisation, we are keen to play our part in helping the Scottish Government build back better.

We currently own 2,300 homes across Scotland, but we have exciting plans to build 100 new homes a year over the next three years, increasing our social housing stock by 13%.

Across the UK, Riverside’s own housing construction was down 24% in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20, mainly due to the impact of site closures during the Covid lockdowns.

However, within our own organization, we expect housing construction to rebound by 95% in 2022, which for us represents a 48% increase in housing construction from 2019 levels.

Currently we have three projects, delivering a total of 190 homes under construction, with support from the Scottish Government.

Despite our small size in Scotland, with financial support from the Riverside Group, we are currently building Scotland’s largest modular social housing development to date in Dundonald, South Ayrshire.

The groundbreaking £9.8million project is being delivered in conjunction with Connect Modular, part of The Wee House Group, and will provide 63 much-needed affordable homes in the village. The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022.

As part of our commitment to improving the availability of housing stock in Scotland, we have a strong focus on our role of helping the Scottish Government provide more affordable housing for people.

The 2020 and 2021 closures disrupted housing construction across the country and had a ripple effect on people stuck in private rentals or temporary accommodation.

As an industry, we need to be bold in our efforts to tackle the housing crisis in Scotland.

Together, we can overcome this 70-year low in housing construction.

The post-war recovery in Scotland was accompanied by an increase in development in major cities. In the 1950s, social housing transformed Glasgow’s chronic housing crisis, accounting for 35% of the city’s housing by 1960.

As we recover from the disrupted years of the pandemic, it is time for all of us in the housing sector to press ahead with our plans to build new, high quality homes and help the Scottish Government deal with the housing crisis. .

Diana MacLean is chief executive of Riverside Scotland