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West Dunbartonshire Council buys back homes from private owners

Daily Record logoDaily Record 04/05/2021 Lennox Herald

Council housing chiefs bought back 15 ex-local authority properties from private owners last year.

The authority has also secured more than £500,000 from the Scottish Government to help support the move to claw back homes they once owned and sold off.

They say of the plan to purchase ex-council houses sold to tenants through the now-defunct Right to Buy: “Not only does the scheme assist with tackling homelessness and housing need and some common capital works, it also contributes towards the More Homes agenda by adding additional stock to the council’s portfolio that it the right type and size and in the right location.”

In documents prepared for a forthcoming meeting of the West Dunbartonshire authority’s Housing and Communities Committee tomorrow (Wednesday), housing bosses reveal that despite restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, they manage to complete 15 such buyback purchases in 2020/21, helping to provide “new homes to households in housing need”.

Papers also tell of progress on the council’s Affordable Housing Supply Programme, comprising the New House Building Programme – originally tasked with creating over 1,000 affordable homes in the area by 2021.

The authority have completed seven new-build developments in West Dunbartonshire since 2013, totalling 183 homes, including developments at Brucehill’s Hill Street Square and Alexandria’s new Creveul Court development.

The Alexandria town centre development saw 22 new homes created to the area’s first dementia-designed blueprint, providing; “high quality new housing to a demographic identified as in housing need”.

A further 423 new homes are in the pipeline at sites including the former Haldane Primary complex on Cook Road, at Dumbarton Harbour and at Aitkenbar in Bellsmyre.

Delays mainly related to the Covid pandemic have hit construction timetables, with just 16 homes at Aitkenbar handed over – a further handover of the remainder of the 55 is expected by May.

It has also provided knock-on effects to financing with the new-build budget element of the council’s Capital Programme taking a hit to the tune of £474,000 in additional costs for the developments at Creveul Court, St Andrews in Clydebank, Aitkenbar and Haldane, billed as being as a result of Covid-19 and equating to around £1800 extra per property.

Handover of some of the 45 council properties earmarked for the new-look Dumbarton Harbour has also been delayed following the collapse of original contractor Cullross (Dumbarton Harbour Ltd).

Covid restrictions and winter weather impacting on planned brickworks also meant the handover of homes will take place between May and planned completion in August.

The authority notes: “a large number of the new homes are completed within a short timeframe culminating in late summer”.

Housing chiefs say they have also: “identified potential future sites for new council homes to address existing and new housing need”, including plans for 26 new cutting-edge energy efficient homes on land in Bonhill’s Pappert estate, although they note: “costs for this project will be high in relation not only to the Passivhaus elements but the ground conditions within the site”.

Passivhaus technology is the new blueprint for high levels of comfort for tenants alongside sparing use of energy for heating and cooling.

It is estimated they will cost £20,000 more per property than the average housing unit.

Just under £1.5m has been secured in additional Affordable Housing Supply funding for the area recently to finance land acquisitions, buy backs and an increase in government grant cash for the Dumbarton harbour-front project, says the authority.

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