Community controlled housing associations are often losing out on the chance to develop new social housing because local authorities are giving priority to larger regional and national associations, according to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations.
On the day of its Annual Conference in Glasgow, addressed by Housing Minister Kevin Stewart, the Forum says that under pressure to maximise output, some councils seem to be ‘seduced’ by large and often mono-tenure project proposals, regardless of whether the project will have the right impact on the local community.
The Forum says it believes some of the larger associations have an aggressive policy of buying sites whatever the cost, even if that means high density developments to make them stack up financially.
The Forum also says that the new housing will often have the impact of displacing tenants from stock owned by the local association.
GWSF Chair Peter Howden said:
“Some of our members are telling us that for the first time in a while they’re now included in the local authority’s development plans, which is something we really welcome. But others tell us they’re being squeezed out in favour of larger regional and national associations.
“We recognise that not all local associations are in a position to develop, but those that want to should be being encouraged by the local authority to make that contribution. We know that regional and national associations have a big role to play, but surely the programme is big enough for all associations to contribute if they’re in a position to.
“When our members develop, they do so with an intimate understanding of the wider regeneration needs of the community – something they’ve built up over the last 40 years or more in many cases. And they build quality homes which stand the test of time.
“If a local association builds, it can manage the impact this might have on its existing stock and demand, but it’s much more difficult to do that if it’s another association’s project which displaces tenants from your stock.
“You could say it’s a case of the low hanging fruit. When it comes to the difficult and messy business of acquiring and doing up poor private tenements, most of the larger regional and national associations are nowhere to be seen.
“The Forum will be monitoring things closely in the coming months, and we hope to see community controlled associations able to make their full contribution to the new supply programme across the GWSF area.”