Community owned projects are helping increase the number of affordable homes in the Highlands.
Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT) is spearheading a new community led housing development having built four new homes in the Highland village of Helmsdale, backed by £110,000 of Scottish Government investment. Local people have also been heavily involved in shaping plans within the development, as well as the overall priorities the Trust has for the area.
During her visit to Helmsdale, the Housing Minister Margaret Burgess met with one of the new tenants Mrs Amy Withey at the Rockview Place project. Mrs Burgess said
“Housing is at the heart of this Government’s ambition to create a fairer and more prosperous country.
“In the Highlands, Helmsdale and District Development Trust and Highland Small Communities Housing Trust are excellent examples of housing development led by the community for the community. It is great to see not just homes being built, but a wider community being invigorated too.
“We are committed to the provision of affordable housing across Scotland – working flexibly in partnership, and using innovative approaches to maximise investment.”
Ruth Whittaker, Chairperson of HDDT, commented:
“We are delighted and honoured to welcome Mrs Burgess here today, to perform the official opening ceremony of the Helmsdale & District Community Owned Housing Project.
“Although the homes were actually completed in perfect time for local families to move in just before Christmas 2014, we see the Minister’s visit as an acknowledgement of this community’s tenacity in addressing its housing needs.
“It is significant that our success with this innovative project is now inspiring similar community groups to emulate our pioneering delivery model.”
Calum Macaulay, Chief Executive at Albyn Housing Society, said:
“By supporting Helmsdale and District Development Trust with this ambitious and rewarding project, the Trust has been able to deliver four much needed quality new homes for Helmsdale.
“This innovative scheme not only addresses local housing need, it will provide an effective and sustainable income stream that will support and sustain community initiatives for many years to come.
“Today’s handover marks an achievement the people of Helmsdale can be justly proud of, and we wish it every success. We also sincerely hope it will inspire other groups to pursue similar community-led projects throughout the Highlands and beyond.”
Pete Guthrie, Head of Strengthening Communities for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in Caithness and Sutherland, commented:
“Helmsdale and District Development Trust is an excellent example of what ambitious communities can achieve when working together with HIE’s support. For several years HIE has provided a wide ranging programme of assistance to the community of Helmsdale, including a full time Local Development Officer.”