Glasgow & West Scotland

North Lanarkshire Council pledges to build 1,000 new homes

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Media captionThe council said the investment in the new houses would be worth nearly £160m

Scotland's biggest council landlord has said it is planning to build 1,000 new homes.

It will be the biggest single investment in council houses for a generation, according to North Lanarkshire Council.

Nationally, housing campaigners said it was only a step towards tackling the shortage of affordable housing across Scotland.

There are more than 12,000 on the council's waiting list.

Together with previously announced plans, the council intends to build a total of 1,800 new homes over the next 10 years.

More than 600 have already been built or are in the process of being constructed.

Waiting list

The council said the investment would be worth nearly £160m. The sites will be decided later.

Like most councils, North Lanarkshire has a substantial housing waiting list, though in the past two years it has fallen from about 13,000 to just over 12,000.

The size of the council's waiting list is second only to Edinburgh and South Lanarkshire.

The Scottish government says it wants 50,000 affordable homes built over the lifetime of this parliament - with 35,000 for rent by councils or housing associations.

The right to buy council homes was completely scrapped in Scotland in July, although in recent years it had been restricted.

'Setting up home'

The Labour-run council's housing convenor Barry McCulloch said: "This is a massive investment for the people of North Lanarkshire. As Scotland's biggest council landlord we understand that modern, accessible housing is a key priority and I'm delighted we will be able to deliver 1,800 new houses by 2026.

"We already had an extensive new-build programme in place, but we are determined to do what we can to meet considerable need. The quality of our new houses is unbelievable.

"They are energy-efficient, accessible and adaptable, which means the needs of people can really be taken into account. It means we can deliver a wide range of housing, including housing for older people, disabled people and young people setting up home for the first time."

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Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr McCulloch called on the Scottish government to meet 50% of the cost of building new social housing.

However, Local Government and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart told the programme: "The government are providing North Lanarkshire with £23m this year and a minimum of £55m up until 2020 to enhance their programme, and I hope that programmes can be enhanced right across the country to meet our ambitious target of 50,000 new houses - 35,000 of which are for social rent."

He added: "The Scottish government have committed £3bn of investment over the course of this parliament.

"Obviously, we will talk to partners about how that investment is allocated but that money in itself is to help lever in money from housing revenue accounts and from other resources that councils and housing associations have."

'Three full Hampdens'

According to housing charity Shelter, in March 2015 there were 317,000 council houses in Scotland but 150,000 on waiting lists.

At the rate new lets were being made at that time, it would have taken seven years to clear the national waiting list even if nobody joined it.

Adam Lang, who is the head of policy at Shelter Scotland welcomed the new homes but said at least 12,000 new affordable homes were needed each year to meet demand.

He said: "I think in the context of the housing crisis that Scotland faces as a whole, it is a first step, it is a small step.

"I think 150,000 households on the waiting list for a home, it's easy to throw these numbers around, but that is the equivalent of three full Hampdens filled with households who don't have a home of their own or are waiting for an appropriate home."

Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland last year released research which argued that at least 12,000 new affordable homes needed to be built each year to tackle what it called "Scotland's housing crisis".

In North Lanarkshire, 1,900 homelessness applications made between 2015-16 - in Scotland as a whole the total was 34,600.

Waiting lists and homelessness should not be confused with rough sleeping.

For instance, they will typically include people in temporary accommodation, private rented accommodation or people with friends or relatives who want a home of their own.

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