Affordable homes first for Aberdeenshire
The completion of the first stage of an innovative £10 million partnership project to build 133 affordable homes in the Marr area of Aberdeenshire was celebrated by partners at a handover ceremony in Banchory today.
Communities Scotland, the Executive’s housing and regeneration agency, supported a partnership contract between Grampian Housing Association, Aberdeenshire Housing Partnership and Bancon Developments to build the homes at Hill of Banchory, Stonehaven and Kirkton of Skene, and also provided a grant of £6.9 million. The partnership project, which means affordable housing can be developed more cost effectively, is one of the first of its kind in Scotland.
Today partners celebrated the benefits of the joint single tender approach with the completion of the first 10 houses by Banchory Contractors (part of Bancon Developments). Grampian Housing Association are currently interviewing potential tenants for the 10 shared ownership properties which will allow tenants to part-buy, part-rent the properties.
Speaking at the hand-over ceremony, Communities Scotland Grampian area director, Gordon Smith, said he was delighted to see the benefits of the scheme now coming to fruition. He added:
‘This is a milestone in our ‘Building a Better Deal’ initiative which aims for a more efficient and economic approach to the construction and maintenance of social housing. This approach will not only benefit residents but has ensured better overall value for money from public investment.’
Grampian Housing Association chief executive, Alan Moat, said:
‘In an area where access to owner occupation is particularly difficult, we
are pleased to be able to provide these homes for shared ownership. This scheme offers an affordable route to home ownership for households where ownership through a traditional mortgage route is just not a realistic option against a background of very high property values.’
Alister Leitch, chair of Aberdeenshire Housing Partnership expressed delight at the provision of much needed new affordable housing in Banchory. Increasing house prices are making it exceptionally difficult for people to get good quality housing and this scheme, which will be quickly followed up with housing for rent provided by Aberdeenshire Housing Partnership, is an example that must be followed up throughout Deeside and beyond. Mr Leitch added:
‘Once again innovation is to the fore in the north east and we are pleased that communities are reaping the benefits’.
Bill Beattie, managing director of Bancon Developments, said:
‘We are delighted to complete the first batch of new homes on programme. This bulk procurement approach has so many benefits for all involved. We certainly welcome the long-term nature of the scheme which enables us to plan confidently for the future and which also means we can employ more apprentices and trainees.’
Since the tender was approved in March last year Mr Beattie confirmed that Bancon Developments have been able to recruit two trainee site managers, one adult apprentice, three young apprentices and two labourers on a ‘Build and Train’ basis.
Benefits of the scheme as highlighted at the launch are:
* a closer and more corporate working relationship which ensures a more effective planning approach between the construction industry and their clients;
* the creation of new job opportunities within the industry due to better long-term planning;
* improved overall building quality and longevity;
* homes being built faster for early occupancy;
* lower future costs for residents as a result of higher levels of energy efficiency in the homes;
* improved risk management, leading to reduced administration and building costs; and
* a two-year fixed price contract.
Work has already begun on the remaining affordable homes at Hill of Banchory where a further 58 houses and 26 flats will be built. A total of 26 houses and nine flats will be built in Stonehaven and four houses will be built at Kirkton of Skene. All building work will be complete by July 2005.
Source: Communities Scotland, www.communitiesscotland.gov.uk