Work has started on a housing development in St Andrews which will see the first new Council homes in the town for 17 years.
While welcoming the construction of the 29 affordable flats at Abbey Walk, St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson insists they need to be the first of many to address the housing crisis which has forced many families out of the town.
The £3.2 million development, being built by Robertson Homes, will be made up of 22 two-bedroom and seven three-bedroom homes, and should be ready in September next year – but there is a shortfall of over 1000 homes for rent in the area.
Cllr Thomson said: “As I’ve highlighted on numerous occasions, the lack of affordable housing in St Andrews is a major issue.
“We have a town where a huge proportion of the housing stock is owned by absentee landlords, who lease their properties as expensive student lets.
“Many streets have next to no permanent residents, and the houses that do come up are only available to those with substantial incomes.”
As well as there having been no new Council homes built in the town for 17 years, Cllr Thomson pointed out there had been no new affordable homes of any kind completed in St Andrews since March 2007 – more than seven years ago.
“Many people who grow up in St Andrews often find that they have to move out of the town to find affordable accommodation,” he said.
“It is excellent news that the construction of 29 new affordable homes has commenced at the Abbey Walk site.
“Given the erosion of the town’s stock of affordable housing over the last 30 years, it is particularly significant that the homes will be Council housing for rent, with no right-to-buy.
“Whilst the 29 new homes will only go some way towards tackling the huge level of unmet housing need in St Andrews, the development does represent an important step.
“It will hopefully be followed by the development of further new affordable homes, as other sites within the town become available.
“It is also a further indication that the Labour administration is delivering on its commitment to provide 2700 new affordable homes across Fife by 2017.”
Councillor Judy Hamilton, executive member for housing, visited the site at Abbey Walk to see the work get underway, and said the new homes were badly needed in St Andrews where there was a high demand, but very low turnover, for affordable housing.
She added: “The new properties will be allocated to existing tenants, where possible, such as those looking to downsize or families needing more bedrooms.
“This means that we can then offer their vacated homes to other families on the housing list too.”