A housing association is set to spend £110 million on building and upgrading houses in Edinburgh and the Lothians over the next few years.
Dunedin Canmore, one of Scotland’s largest landlords, will spend over £80 million building new homes over the next five years, subject to approval.
They will also invest £30 million in upgrading existing homes – more than double the initial amount planned.
The announcement was made at the launch of a new affordable homes development in the north of Edinburgh by Councillor Joan Griffiths, the city’s new housing leader.
Griffiths told press at the launch that the project was a “brilliant example” of cooperation between the Council and a housing association, according to The Edinburgh Evening News.
“It’s great to be here to mark the start of work on Dunedin Canmore’s new development in Muirhouse.
“This will provide much-needed affordable housing in the north of Edinburgh, with homes for social and mid-market rent,” Griffiths told The Edinburgh Evening News.
The Muirhouse development will consist of 80 new properties: 64 homes for social rent and 16 for mid-market rent, catering for those on “modest incomes.”
Developers said the project would be a mix of one and two-bedroom flats, traditional four-in-a-block flats, and larger family houses.
Dunedin Canmore owns and manages almost 8,000 homes, and became part of the Wheatley group in 2014.
The Wheatley Partnership are a nation-wide provider of housing, comprising of six registered social landlords, a care organisation and two commercial subsidiaries.
The joining of the partnership gave a boost to the five-year investment programme of Dunedin Canmore, with a major increase in expenditure that it is hoped will lead to the upgrade of tenement buildings.
The housing association is currently building another 162 houses on sites across the capital. Plans are being developed for a further 353, and new proposals being compiled for hundreds more.
The new affordable homes include 111 in Craigmillar, 21 at Seafield Road and 30 in North Berwick. Building will also take place in Gorebridge, Wallyford and Musselburgh.
The chair of Dunedin Canmore Tom Mitchell said the schemes would benefit thousands of people across the city.
According to The Edinburgh Evening News, at the launch Mitchell remarked: “The homes in Muirhouse are a great boost to the local community. I look forward to seeing these – and hundreds more – being completed as we work with our partners to tackle the acute shortage of affordable housing in Edinburgh.”
The increased budget being allocated to the improvement and upgrade of thousands of homes is an important step in tackling Edinburgh’s affordable housing problem.
Mitchell went on to say: “Complementing our ambitious new-build programme is a comprehensive plan to refurbish and upgrade our existing homes.
“In due course, thousands of people will benefit from having modern, comfortable, fuel-efficient affordable homes,” he said.
The Vice President Services (VPS) of Edinburgh University Student’s Association, Jenna Kelly, told The Student that investing in existing homes is a “very positive” move.
She elaborated: “Fuel-poverty is something which is often overlooked when exploring affordability in housing; however, over a third of households in Scotland are fuel poor with a tenth living in extreme fuel poverty.”
Edinburgh has a serious problem within the housing sector, in particular the market for affordable homes.
The Council revealed last year that almost 150 households bid for every Council and housing association property available to let in Edinburgh, with the city’s population predicted to grow by around 30 per cent over the next decade.
The impact of this shortage is being increasingly felt among students of the University.
Kelly told The Student: “Our students are being forced to look further North and South of the city to be able to afford rent prices, which brings in a new problem of transportation costs for commuting to classes and study spaces.
“With roughly 80,000 students in the city, students are having to begin their accommodation searches as early as January in order to find a clean, safe flat in the location they need, with a legitimate contract, which they can afford.
“It’s not easy and is something which needs to be addressed, before an inability to find somewhere to live stops students coming here,” she concluded.