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CNPA Board Meeting – progress report for housing

5th October 2006

The progress made towards a housing policy that meets the social and economic needs of the communities of the Cairngorms National Park will be on the agenda at a Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) meeting tomorrow.

The monthly meeting of the CNPA board takes place on Friday 6 October at 1.30pm in Braemar Village Hall, where CNPA staff will present an information paper on how the Park’s housing policy is progressing.

The board agreed on the 19th May 2006 that, as an organisation, the CNPA should seek to intervene in the housing market to achieve more sustainable communities in the Park. Tomorrow’s information paper, updates members on investigations into the range of actions endorsed by the board in May, including the use of residency criteria, and increasing public and private investment in affordable housing.

Gavin Miles of the CNPA’s Local Plan team explained: “We are making good progress with our partners in finding a range of practical mechanisms that can be used to ensure that new housing in the Park will meet the economic and social needs of the Park’s communities and tackles the issues of access to and the affordability of housing.

“The challenge facing the board is to ensure that enough new housing is built to meet the needs of the Park’s communities and that it continues to meet those needs over time. The information paper allows us to update the board on the range of practical mechanisms that we think have real potential to meet those needs in the future.

“As a result of our research we have been able to develop our thinking on issues such as the use of residency criteria and how to maximise the contribution of the private sector to the housing needs of the Park’s communities. We are working closely with our partners to refine these mechanisms for the National Park so the board can consider and endorse a suitable toolkit for housing provision early next year.”

Fiona Munro, the CNPA’s Housing Policy Officer added: “One of the areas that this information paper for the board highlights is the gap in ability of Park households to access the housing market by comparing incomes with house prices. About 50 per cent of all households in the National Park have an income that would be too small to secure a mortgage for nearly 80 per cent of the properties sold. That is the crux of the issue. The information paper also looks at research and practice in other parts of Scotland, the rest of the UK and abroad before running through a selection of mechanisms that are considered to offer a range of practical ways in which the CNPA and partners, including developers, may be able to create a more sustainable balance within the housing market of the Park.

“Most people recognise that delivering housing in rural areas for those on rural incomes is a complicated and emotive issue, not just in the National Park but across Scotland. There are no magic wands that can simply remove all the problems, but we are working hard to give the board and the Cairngorms National Park the most effective tools for the job.”

Following tomorrow’s update at the meeting, CNPA staff will continue to refine the range of possible mechanisms that could be introduced to support the Park’s housing policy. These will be discussed fully with local authorities, Communities Scotland, developers and landowners to develop realistic and effective ways of delivering housing for the Park area and the Park’s communities. This information will feed into changes being made to the Local Plan which will go on deposit in June 2007.

This board paper can be accessed in full here.