7000 affordable homes plan rests on Government money

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CITY leaders today announced plans to build nearly 7000 new affordable homes in Edinburgh – but only if the Government provides the cash.

A document to be submitted to ministers outlines the extent of the housing crisis in the Capital, with close to 6000 families likely to be classed homeless next year.

Senior councillors said there is enough land in the city to solve the problem and said the council and its partners can use the economic slowdown to their advantage by buying up sites at knock-down prices. Around 100 hectares of land across the city have been identified, which would form a "land bank" for the next five years.

Registered social landlords and public bodies could then provide the necessary 6677 homes.

But all this will only be possible through the Scottish Government's Affordable Housing Investment Programme (AHIP), which last year handed just 36 million to the city.

Councillors want that more than doubled in 2009 to 83m, rising to a total of more than half-a-billion pounds by 2014.

Their plea is almost certain to fail, as the Government has requested an analysis of what would happen with a standstill budget, or a modest ten per cent increase. In both scenarios, only around 3000 homes could be provided.

City housing leader Paul Edie said: "It is clearer than ever we and our partners could be building significantly more badly-needed affordable homes in Edinburgh.

"We are confident that we could approve 6700 new affordable homes over five years if we can secure the necessary funding from the Scottish Government.

"Currently, we are looking at a shortfall of 12,000 affordable homes over ten years, so this strategy would go some way towards addressing this."

The new Strategic Housing Investment Plan will be considered by the council's health, social care and housing committee next week. The report will then be put out for consultation, before submission to ministers in November.

Last year, the council approved 625 affordable homes at tender stage, through a record investment of 44.4m, partly funded from AHIP money.

The council's director of services for communities, Mark Turley, said the current level of Government support "will not enable the council to develop an affordable housing land bank".

"It would enable the council to approve between 600 and 700 affordable homes per year," he said. This is insufficient to meet affordable housing need in the city."