A Western Isles councillor has called for a seminar to be held later this year to address housing issues in Uist and Barra.
Following a meeting of the Uist Economic Taskforce Working Group meeting recently, Uist Councillor, Iain Archie Macneil said: “Housing remains a key component for the economy of Uist and for all our islands, but too many housing matters remain unresolved.
“Now is the time to lay the groundwork for a new policy approach to housing in Uist and Barra.
“We need to explore new and innovative ways in which the demands for future housing for residents and businesses alike can be addressed.
“Access to future-fit housing affects jobs and especially recruitment and retention. We need to work together, all the agencies involved and the whole community.”
In reference to plans for new housing, Mr MacNeill added: “At present, the number of new homes proposed for Uist and Barra under the Affordable Housing Programme’s distribution of funding has not been equitable, this needs to change.
“The most recent population estimates report a continued trend in population decline across the area, despite fluctuations associated with project activity.
“There are many challenges related to housing investment that we need to find solutions for.
“Some of these have previously been highlighted in research by the North Uist Development Company in 2018 and before that in the 2016 report ‘The Uists: Housing and Community Needs Survey’.
“I am now calling for a Housing Seminar to be held in the very near future in Uist to consider and address a range of housing issues so that we can unlock the economic potential in the Uist and Barra area and address population decline.
“I will be working with the newly formed Uist and Barra Housing Working Group and all agencies involved to try to make this happen as soon as possible.”
Mr Macneil also said he would be writing to the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Comhairle, Hebridean Housing Partnership, Tighean Innse Gall, the Crofting Commission, crofters and landowners to join forces and to support the Housing Seminar.
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