11th April 2007
PROPERTY owners are being called to play their part in the drive to provide more affordable housing in the Cairngorms National Park.
One of the main objectives of the Cairngorms National Park Plan, which sets out the long-term future of the Park, is to provide an improved and vibrant housing sector.
In a bid to meet this, the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) teamed up with the Scottish Rural Business and Property Business Association (SRPBA) last year to identify its properties within the Park that could be renovated into housing.
The CNPA is now keen to extend this project in a bid to identify more suitable properties around the Park. The project is now open to any vacant property or steading in the Park which can be nominated by the land or property owner. A qualified surveyor will assess the property to determine whether it is suitable to be turned into affordable rented accommodation in line with Communities Scotland guidance.
The current property owners will retain the property, but it will be rented out to tenants either through the owner or by a housing association.
The property must be in good condition and in need of only minor renovation work. The owner could be eligible for grants which will contribute towards the costs of turning the property into a fit for living standard.
The project is open around the Park and there are no limits on the number of properties an owner can nominate.
Fiona Munro, the CNPA’s Housing Policy Officer, said: “There is a clear lack of affordable housing in the Park and it is something that needs to be addressed particularly if we want to meet one of the National Park Plan’s aims of retaining young people and attracting new migrants.
“Our research has already shown there is a higher percentage of private rented accommodation in the Park than public sector and housing association accommodation put together.
“Many of the private properties are currently not being used. This project will put those properties back into use, which will benefit the local environment and communities and also provide much needed housing.
“We would like to hear from any property owners who could qualify for this scheme. This is an opportunity for people involved in the Park to make a real difference to its future.”
David Green, CNPA Convener, said: “The CNPA has been working on innovative solutions to provide more affordable housing in the Park as it recognises there is a huge demand for it.
“Our recently approved National Park Plan identified the need for more good quality private sector rented accommodation at affordable rents to meet local need and this collaborative approach with the SRPBA and others can help to achieve this.”
Under the scheme the costs of surveys will initially be met by the CNPA. If a property has been approved to be turned into housing, the CNPA will then assist owners in applying to Communities Scotland for either a Rural Empty Property Grant or Lead Tenancy Grant to help towards renovation work. If a grant is awarded part of it will be used to refund the CNPA for the surveying work.
Applications for the scheme must be submitted to Fiona Munro, Cairngorms National Park Authority, 14 The Square, Grantown-on-Spey, PH26 3HG by Monday April 16. Property surveying is due to take place from June.
For more information on the project contact Fiona Munro on 01479 870 540 or for information on the grants visit www.communitiesscotland.gov.uk