Lack of new homes is ‘costing jobs’

HOUSEBUILDERS are warning that a squeeze on land for development is stifling economic growth and forcing companies to relocate their workers.

Housebuilders could feel the squeeze on land for development. Picture: Getty

Two property company bosses have raised concerns that too few homes are being built to meet demand, which is also forcing up property prices.

Sandy Adam, of Springfield Properties, and Ken Ross, of Ross Developments and Renewables, claimed that urgent action was needed.

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Adam, who recently became chairman of Homes for Scotland, said only five of Scotland’s 32 local authorities had an “effective” land supply as defined by the Scottish Government. “We are 55,000 house plots short. The figures are shocking and we need to do something,” he said.

Ross said demand in Aberdeen is being determined on “outdated population projections”. He referred to data from Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (ACSEF) revealing that 40,000 jobs were available, but research by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce highlighted a mismatch between job vacancies and the provision of homes for workers.

“Businesses serving the oil and gas sector are choosing to service their Aberdeen interests from lower-cost bases in other parts of the UK or, more worryingly, on mainland Europe or elsewhere in the world. There are important indications that the Aberdeen housing market area is becoming dysfunctional,” he said.

“Housing completions continue to fall well behind strategic targets because of current land supply constraints.”

Ross claimed these circumstances will be exacerbated by a strategic development plan for the Aberdeen area that is based on a population of 500,000 against the National Registrar for Scotland’s 2012 projection of 567,000 by 2035.

Ramsay Milne, chairman of the Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Planning Authority, disputed the claims: “The claim that our strategic development plan is unambitious is patently untrue. We are planning for major growth and the facts prove it. We are making plenty of land available for homes in support of wider economic development.”

He said a report for the Scottish Government last month commended the area for the way it had dealt with housing issues and its plans were of a “more ambitious scale” than anywhere else in Scotland.

Another report for the Scottish Government in January also backed the strategic development plan.

“The plan is flexible enough to cope with population growth to well in excess of 500,000 and is reviewed every five years.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was committed to increasing the supply of new homes. A statement said: “Scottish planning policy requires planning authorities to provide a generous supply of appropriate and effective sites in development plans.

“Our revised Scottish planning policy, which is due to be published in June, will continue to place a strong focus on delivery.”