Hebridean Housing Partnership have revealed plans to build a mixture of homes to rent and for shared equity purchase in Horgabost, Harris, as part of their pledge to build at least 30 new homes each year.
Angus Lamont, HHP chief executive, this week spoke to the Gazette about their commitment to continued investment in housing for the isles with projects either under way, or planned, through the length of the Western Isles - literally from the Butt to Barra.
HHP have secured £2.5m to enable them to build 34 new homes for affordable rent and shared equity at Stornoway, Barvas and Habost, Ness.
The houses will be built in partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar who provided financial support and also the sites at the former Barvas School and the former Comunn Eachdraidh Nis building at Habost.
The houses – 24 at Mackenzie Lane, Stornoway, six at Barvas and four at Habost will be constructed by local builders Calmax Construction Ltd.Looking ahead to next year, Mr Lamont confirmed a site in Horgabost has also been purchased with planning permission for six houses approved.
A site for houses is being actively sought in Tarbert, Harris, while there are also plans to develop in Castlebay, Barra.
Mr Lamont said: “There is a lot of interest in all of our developments. In Horgabost we don’t actually have any houses in that area at all so we don’t have a waiting list for it but the West Harris Crofting Trust have said there is interest.
“The houses will have a cracking view of the beach and the land we have purchased is a site for six houses which we will build. The plan at the moment is for four for rent and two for shared equity sale just now but there will be a consultation with the community on that.
“This will begin potentially at the end of this year or depending on how we get on early next year. We have planning but we are just at building warrant stage at the moment.”
HHP’s commitment to building more than 30 new homes a year has been underlined by the continued development of the site at Melbost, Stornoway, where 45 homes have been finished with work underway on another 12 with a further 24 to be built shortly.
All building works, and investment works carried out on behalf of HHP, have been done by local contractors which Mr Lamont says is part of HHP’s commitment to contributing to the local communities.
Developing the land purchased by HHP on Goathill Farm is still a few years away but Mr Lamont reveals any houses built on the land will be of a similar layout to that in Melbost
“This year we are looking to finish off Mackenzie Crescent and then we will look to begin Mackenzie Lane,” explained Mr Lamont.
“Currently we have around 700 on the waiting list of which more than half will be looking for houses in Stornoway at any given time. The Comhairle also want to see us develop in rural areas which is why we’re looking at places like Barvas and Habost. We have just finished in Crowlista, Uig and Balivanich so we keep a good geographical spread.
“In Barvas we are demolishing the old school where we intend to build six houses in its place with the potential for another two in the future. Habost will be demolishing the old business unit with us building four houses for rent there.
“Going forward we are looking to continue to develop that site in Melbost while we remain keen to develop in Tarbert although we haven’t got a site yet. We are looking to develop[ in Castlebay but potentially another rural site too. We will continue to develop in Stornoway throughout too.
“In terms of numbers we will develop over 30 a year for the next five years. We also invest £3 to £4m per year into improving our existing housing stock with new kitchens and bathrooms, heating systems and windows.
“Anyone interested in the shared equity scheme should contact Tighean Innse Gall to register an interest. It is important they do so early as it can a while to go through the process.”