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23 August 2023 |

Taking action on Rural Housing

For our members in the Highlands and Islands, the lack of affordable and quality housing is a growing issue for their ability to recruit and invest. That’s why we have started to engage with the new Housing Minister, Paul McLennan MSP.  

We recently brought together members of the SCDI Rural Commission with Highland housing developers with Mr McLennan to discuss the issues and the forthcoming Remote Rural Housing Action plan due later this year. 

Key discussion points included: 

  • Housing shortages throughout the Highlands and Islands are restricting growth of existing industries and jeopardising the opportunities for emerging industries to locate and grow in the region. 
  • Construction Inflation costs are impacting the industry and driving increased cost per unit on affordable and mixed market housing, new builds and retrofit/repurposing of older housing stock. 
  • High interest rates are affecting mortgage markets and new home purchases. 25,000 new homes per year are needed to meet demand in Scotland and cannot be achieved by current capacity. 
  • Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) can be part of the solution towards meeting demand however caution is needed to the mitigate risk as several large MMC companies have failed despite being in close proximity to large urban markets. Rural MMC solutions need to be considered carefully.  
  • Construction Skills and Apprenticeships need to be supported through investment and the industry needs to be seen by young people as a positive long term career opportunity. 

Next Steps 

SCDI has been invited by the Minister to provide a position paper on the issues.  Our Regional Manager, Grant Campbell, is a member of the Highlands and Islands Regional Economy Partnership Group and will work with partners to develop solutions. We know that these challenges are shared by other rural areas of Scotland and that there are also major housing issues for urban areas too. We considering what we can do to help tackle them.  

If any of our members have information about how housing issues are affecting them and views about what can be done, please contact Gareth.williams@scdi.org.uk