SCOTLAND’S Housing Minister Alex Neil cut a sod of earth as work on the first new council houses to be built in Edinburgh for a generation finally got underway yesterday (tues).
The city will see an addition of 215 new homes built as work on the site of three former high rises in Gracemount gets underway – with at least 67 for rent.
The rest will be for shared equity sale or mid market rent.
The homes, constructed by developers Cruden Group along with Hart Builders will, be a range of sizes and styles, such as flats and colony houses, with the first council homes available in winter 2011.
Minister for Housing and Communities Alex Neil said that they were long needed.
He added: “This is a historic day for the nation’s capital. After 30 years, council houses are once again establishing a firm foundation in Edinburgh.
“The City of Edinburgh Council has enthusiastically embraced these positive measures, helping to boost supply and deliver quality, affordable rented homes for people in the city.”
“It’s great news for Edinburgh but it’s also symbolic of what’s going on throughout the rest of Scotland where we are now building 3,500 council houses which compares to six council houses four years ago.”
The construction work is the latest major milestone in the City of Edinburgh Council’s 21st Century Homes programme, which aims to build 1,300 mixed tenure homes for sale and rent across the Capital over the next eight years.
The council has successfully secured £7.5m worth of funding from the Scottish Government to support the programme from three separate rounds of bidding.
Councillor Paul Edie said that this was great news for the people of the city.
He added: “This is an exciting time for residents in Edinburgh as they can now see our new council homes taking shape. I’m confident these modern homes will set the standard for other councils across Scotland to follow.
“Nothing is more important to people than decent housing. It impacts on health, well-being and educational attainment. I am delighted that the first council homes in a generation are being built during my time as Housing Convener.
“The city faces an acute shortage of housing which is becoming a limit on our prosperity. This is something we are working closely with the Scottish Government on and their £7.5m investment in this programme is vital to meet this goal.
“The 21st Century Homes programme is a vital element of our ongoing long term regeneration plans for the Capital.”
But Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland said that still more will need to be done.
“While the new council houses in Edinburgh are a welcome move forward and great news for those people lucky enough to get them, the total planned across Scotland is still very low – just 3,300 against a backdrop of 160,000 households stuck on waiting lists.
“The investment of £80million by the Scottish Government only scratches at the surface of the housing crisis in Scotland and I urge it to prioritise and protect funding for housing in the forthcoming budget.”