MP’s concerns about affordable housing in Harris and Barra

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Hebrides Housing Partnership (HHP) has responded to concerns about a lack of affordable housing in Harris and Barra raised with them by Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil, stating that they don’t have responsibility for decisions about where affordable housing is built in the islands.

Last week the MP issued a press statement saying that he had received representations from people in Harris and Barra “who are very concerned about the lack of [affordable] house building projects in these islands.

The MP concluded that this was “resulting in difficulties for young people and families wishing to remain in these areas”. 

Mr MacNeil subsequently wrote to HHP raising those concerns, and said in his statement: ”I  appreciate that Hebridean Housing Partnership may have difficulties in securing land to build houses, but some means must be found to make land available for housing in order to ensure that there are people to run our tourism, care and all the other services needed within the islands.

“It would be a sad day if employment was available, but lack of housing prevented people making their homes in our islands.”

HHP has now confirmed that they received communications on the matter from Mr MacNeil earlier in February.

A spokesperson for the housing association stated that they had “outlined” to the MP  that: “the strategic responsibility for housing lies with the local authority. They had went on to explain that the decision about where housing can and should be built in the Outer Hebrides is made by the Comhairle”. 

The housing association stated that the Comhairle “publish their plans for housing through the Local Housing Strategy, the Local Development Plan and annually, the Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP)”, and that all of the information requested is “already within the public domain either on the Comhairle’s website or our website”.

“The Comhairle and ourselves”, a spokesperson for HHP stated, “are fully committed to delivering affordable social housing throughout the Outer Hebrides.”

HHP confirmed this week that they had recently completed four shared equity units at Paric Niseaboist “giving people the opportunity to buy their own home at a more affordable price than is available on the local market”.

The housing association stated that it hoped to have flats in Tarbert under construction in April 2020 and that they are “in the process of working with the Comhairle and HIE to develop a site at Scott Road”.

In terms of developments in Barra, HHP’s spokesperson stated that the Comhairle have carried out ‘feasibility work’ on a local site and that HHP were now “in the process of purchasing a piece of land to enable some homes to be constructed”.

In Uist, HHP confirmed,  “we currently have two sites under construction in Garrynamonie and Torlum, we are tendering for a project in Balivanich and working with a local contractor on a potential project in Lochmaddy”.