Scottish property: Housing shortfall ‘will lead to crisis’
SCOTLAND is facing a housing crisis with local councils planning for 180,000 fewer homes than are needed for the nation’s growing population.
The warning is contained in a new analysis of the nation’s housing needs at a time when the Scottish population is at its highest ever level.
Unless there are more homes, the analysis suggests, Scots will face rising house prices, a struggle to secure rented accommodation and family friction as young people are forced to spend years living with their parents.
Planning experts Geddes Consulting studied the housing plans of local authorities in the four main city regions –south-east Scotland, Glasgow and the Clyde Valley, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and Tayside and East Fife.
Overall, it says, according to the plans drawn up by the Strategic Development Plan Authorities (SDPAs) that cover the four areas, 352,670 new homes will be needed over the next 12 years. However, the same authorities have set aside land capable of siting just 173,000 new homes, leaving a shortfall of 179,000 homes.
Bob Salter, the director of Geddes Consulting, said it was imperative that Scotland’s local authorities set aside more land for building homes.
He said: “The worry is that such a modest housing land release for such a large number of emerging families will mean that the backlog of housing needs will continue to rise and, given the lack of new homes to buy, house prices will increase unnecessarily.”
The demand for houses is expected to rise with Scotland’s population, which last year hit 5,254,800 – driven upwards by the arrival of 32,700 new residents, the largest number of immigrants for more than 50 years.
Yet, at the same time that the population is growing the housing market has collapsed as a result of the recession, with many new housing projects coming to a standstill. Local authorities are required by the Scottish Government to allocate land on a range of sites, which can be used to meet their future requirements.
Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire have stated that they will require 35,630 homes before 2027, but, according to their most recent development plans, their land supply is enough to cover just 16,000 new homes, leaving a shortfall of 19,630. Glasgow and Clyde Valley have stated that they will require 183,500 new homes before 2025, but the land set aside for building will allow 85,000 new homes, leaving a shortfall of 98,500.
The South East of Scotland (SESplan), which covers East Lothian, Edinburgh, parts of Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian, have a projected need of 107,500 new homes but have set aside land for 60,000, leaving a shortfall of 47,500.
Similarly, the TAYplan, which covers Dundee City, Angus, East Fife and St Andrews and Perth and Kinross need 26,040 but have land ready for 12,000, leaving a projected shortfall of 14,040.
Professor Glen Bramley, a lecturer in urban studies at Heriot-Watt University, said the consequences of a housing shortage would ripple out across Scotland. “A shortage means house prices rise and only the most affluent can afford to buy. This means the middle classes may rent instead of buy and they in turn push out other people from the rental market, which puts more pressure on social housing. It will mean young people have to live longer with their parents and that has its own problems if the house is small.”
However, Professor Gwilym Pryce, Professor of Urban Economics and Social Statistics at Glasgow University, said he was sceptical of setting targets for house-building based on demographic projections. “The problem with such targets is that population projections are notoriously complex and have wide margins for error. When these projections are positive, we gamble on their accuracy and build lots of new homes, often of poor quality in less than optimal locations and of the wrong type.
“This is potentially problematic because these dwellings have the potential to be around for a long time and cause long-term problems if the population declines.”
Cosla, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which represents Scotland’s 32 councils, defended the current plans. “Local authorities identify housing land requirements in their local area and allocate a range of sites to meet these requirements. These proposals are then subject to scrutiny and examination by a wide range of stakeholders prior to adoption by ministers.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There is no question that Scotland faces a major challenge in the future to deliver the required level of housing to meet demand. Scottish Government policy expects planning authorities to allocate a generous supply of land to meet identified housing requirements.”
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