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Changing, Challenging, Collaborating

Changing, Challenging, Collaborating

At the recent Annual Homes for Scotland Lunch and Awards, of which we were once again proud main sponsors, Ken Gillespie, the new Chair of Homes for Scotland highlighted the success and progress of the housebuilding industry in providing high quality homes and the role those homes have in supporting families, jobs and the health, wellbeing and education of the population.

Building and selling homes should be simple, shouldn’t it? The demand for quality homes is there. In theory, that should be half the battle. However, there is much more to the process than first meets the eye. There is a need to identify land which is suitable, accessible, and attractive to purchasers in the community. Thereafter, the land must be promoted, often for years, through the Local Development Plan process, and planning applications pursued including negotiation of planning gain contributions. Next, a means of financing the purchase of the land and the development of infrastructure and housing must be found and, in all of this, there is a requirement to work with utility providers and authorities to ensure infrastructure to support the development is available and can be provided on time. Taken in that context, the complexity of building homes is highlighted. Effort, expense, time and patience (lots and lots of it!) is required.

How can we improve on the system and deliver badly needed homes more quickly? As Ken highlighted, this can be done by “changing, challenging and collaborating” - this was the theme of this year’s event. The aim of the industry is to be better and better each year, to be solutions driven and, importantly, to continue strengthening levels of customer satisfaction.

Addressing the audience, Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart MSP continued the theme.  He highlighted the changes (hopefully improvements) to come in the form of the Planning (Scotland) Bill.   There were examples of collaboration between the industry and the Scottish Government including the recent extension of the Help to Buy Scheme committing a further £100m over an additional two year period, the Housing Infrastructure Fund, Rural and Islands Housing Funds and the £150m Scottish Building Fund (a precursor to the planned Scottish National Investment Bank).  These initiatives in large part continue through until 2021 and Kevin invited the industry to consider and challenge the Scottish Government on what type of support should be made available looking forward beyond that time.  In turn he threw out a challenge to the industry to continue developing and improving availability of new build housing stock suitable for disabled purchasers.

The ability to change, challenge and collaborate effectively is dependent on relationships.  Once again the Annual Lunch and Awards provided the opportunity to strengthen existing and create new friendships.  While celebrating the successes of the last year there was a real sense at this year’s event that the industry is looking to build on that success, improve and take the industry to new levels.  With the launch of Homes for Scotland’s discussion paper ‘Delivering More Homes for Scotland: barriers and solutions’ we look forward to working with the sector to ensure quality homes are continued to be developed in Scotland.

Congratulations to each of the winners and recipients of commendations for their well deserved awards.

By John Strachan
Head of Property

Burness admin