A new community group in Aberfeldy has been formed to stop the exodus of locals priced out of the housing market.
The Aberfeldy Development Trust hopes to build new homes to address the high cost of housing that is driving many who grew up in the village to leave for cheaper areas.
Its vow for action comes after undertaking a survey filled in by 295 residents (around 15% of the town’s population) that highlights the depth of the problem.
And other Perthshire communities, including Comrie, are also aiming to build affordable housing.
Two-thirds of businesses struggle to recruit
- 87% of respondents supported the need for more affordable housing.
- 68% of businesses said they have had trouble recruiting/retaining staff due to lack of housing.
- 43% of respondents having direct experience of friends / family members having to leave the area because they could not find suitable housing.
- 203 households – residents and non residents – will be looking for housing in the Aberfeldy and surrounding area within the next five years.
Almost a quarter are second homes
These followed a local housing strategy presentation from Perth and Kinross Council, which stated the following:
- Aberfeldy is impacted by Ineffective Housing Stock, which is defined as second homes/holiday lets.
- 10% of homes in Aberfeldy were listed as second homes – compared to 1% in PKC as a whole
- 13% were holiday lets – compared to 2% in PKC as a whole.
- That makes 23% of homes in Aberfeldy listed as either second homes or holiday lets.
36% are Airbnbs
“These are powerful findings,” said Gill Steele, one of the trust’s six founders and voluntary interim directors. “The community recognises that there is an issue.”
While other areas have similar problems with affordable housing, it seems a particular issue for the town that hosts The Golden Dram.
A recent article in The Guardian claimed that Rannoch and Aberfeldy has Great Britain’s highest concentration of Airbnb short-term holiday lets, at 36%.
“I grew up in Devon, where there are communities that have 70% holiday houses and I would hate for that to happen to Aberfeldy which has an amazing community that does amazing things,” Gill added.
“Most of the people in the trust are motivated by wanting to provide housing for everybody and keep young people in the community.”
‘We have contacts’
The group’s primary goal is simple.
“The idea is that we will build and develop community housing,” Gill said. “We are in the protest of investigating numerous sites around the town.
“Funding options include the Scottish land fund, community asset transfer and the rural housing fund, which is available for communities to build housing.”
The survey pulled up a particular need for two-bedroom houses to rent and buy.
“There is movement on that,” Gill continued. “We are optimistic that we can deliver some affordable housing in a relatively short period.”
She then answered the question of why providing affordable housing is being left to communities rather than the government and council.
“We have contacts that maybe big organisations don’t have,” Gill explained.
“So we can get support from the community and offers of land.
“People are more willing to help you as you are providing affordable housing.
“A number of businesses indicated they were willing and wanted to support the development trust.”
‘We can set our own allocation policy’
One of the key findings of the survey was the strong desire for new housing to cater for those with a local connection.
Gill said: “If Perth and Kinross Council provides housing it allocates based on a quota system and local connections are not considered.
“But as a community we can develop housing and set our own criteria, which would mean that people who get housing having a local connection.
“The key benefit of the community doing it is that we can set our own allocation policy.”
Comrie also seeking new homes
The Aberfeldy Development Trust wants to emulate a similar group in Tomintoul, which has managed to get 12 affordable homes built within 18 months of setting up.
Elsewhere in Perthshire, volunteers in Comrie are working with the Communities Housing Trust to build the case for an affordable housing programme.
Lindsay Brown, treasurer of Comrie Community Council, said: “We are trying to get a survey out for people who either live or work in the village, or who would like to move here to prove there is a demand.
“We can then work with Perth and Kinross Council and the Community Housing Trust to create some affordable housing for Comrie.
“Businesses around here are struggling to find people to work for them because people can’t afford to live here.
“As soon as a house is on the market it goes immediately for 10 to 20 per cent over asking price.
“Nobody can afford to live here.”
By Stephen Eighteen September 21 2022, 5.51am