Scotland’s new housing minister Keith Brown has visited Ayr to see the progress of Ayrshire Housing’s latest project.
It involves the creation of 25 houses for rent alongside the retention of key parts of the Roman Catholic Church’s former Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.
After over eight years of planning and protracted negotiation, Ayrshire Housing bought a former Ayr church last year. The building is located in the Dalmilling neighbourhood close to the town’s racecourse.
Paul Torrance, Ayrshire Housing’s Chair said “It’s good that Mr Brown is taking the time to see the sort of challenging projects that housing associations have been good at delivering over the past 35 years. But can he assure us that difficult but very worthwhile schemes like this one will be developed in the future? The results of the current bidding round for government grants need to be properly assessed. We need to be convinced that claims of better value for public money do not mask a damaging loss of impact in terms of regeneration and community care, and high quality and secure employment in the construction industry.”
Mr Brown said “We are looking at new mechanisms such as through the pension funds and feed in tariffs to support additional housing investment. I also do think that it is important to look at the wider community benefits that can be got through our investment in housing.”
The total cost of the project is £2.8m. It is being supported by a grant of £1.6m from the Scottish Government to ensure that the rents are affordable.
Earlier in the day, Mr Brown saw work underway on South Ayrshire Council’s first council houses in 30 years, This development also in Dalmilling is being supported by Ayrshire Housing which is providing its project management expertise to the Council.