Herald building set to be converted

THE FORMER Arbroath Herald building is set to be transformed into housing after a local housing association secured funding from the Scottish Government.

The building on Burnside Drive is set to be converted by Servite Housing Association, along with other properties in the town, thanks to the innovation and investment fund.

It is thought that up to 20 new tenants could be welcomed into the former Herald building once it has been completed and Servite chairman Bill Roberton was delighted to announce the proposals.

He said: “This is wonderful news for the people of Arbroath. This investment will enable us not only to meet housing need but also to ensure a much loved building in Arbroath is given a new lease of life.

“Without this funding, 20 people would not have access to a new home and we would not have been able to invest new monies in the local economy and provide new housing outcomes.

As well as the Herald building, other developments in the town, as well as Forfar and Inveraldie, are also set to benefit from a slice of cash from the fund.

Councillor Jim Millar, housing spokesperson at Angus Council, was also delighted with the funding and added up to 66 new homes could be created.

He explained: “I am delighted with the success of our partnership bid with our local registered social landlords. We can never receive enough money to build affordable housing, but we have secured resources for a total of 66 new homes in this round.  

“This is a boost to those seeking new affordable housing. It will enable us to push forward with our programme of building of affordable and energy efficient homes and reduce the pressures on our waiting lists.”

The announcement also means that jobs in the construction sector will be created and Angus South MSP Graeme Dey welcomed the news.

He said: “The announcement of this funding will mean not only an increase in the number of homes built in the local area, but will also provide valuable jobs in the construction sector. In total through this first tranche of funding there will be 2,700 new homes built across Scotland.”

However, Angus Housing Association issued a warning on the back of the announcement saying the Scottish government need to make more money available for affordable housing.

Association chairman Bruce Forbes said: “In the context of this overall picture, to describe this paltry substitute to the real investment needed as a boost for jobs and wonderful news for those families in desperate need of new homes is naïve.

“I would ask Councillor Millar and Mr Roberton to reflect on their press release from last week and ask themselves whether or not they have prematurely sent out the wrong message in their rush to congratulate each other at being offered some crumbs from the Scottish Government’s table, while the majority of the homeless in Angus continue to starve.

“I would also like to invite them both to join Angus Housing Association in unreservedly calling on the Scottish Government to re-instate the cuts in the Affordable Housing Investment Programme in its forthcoming spending review.”

However, Councillor Millar responded by saying: “We have the unedifying sight of the director of Angus Housing Association rushing into print to complain about what is, in the current financial situation, a welcome investment in Angus.

“This appears to be on the basis of masking his own organisation’s inability to gain any funding through a competitive bidding process to access Government funds.

“Everyone is working to secure better value for money from public investment in housing development and, ultimately, organisations will either come on board or be left wallowing in the swell.”

Bill Roberton, chair of Servite, responded: “Everyone is aware that the current climate is extremely difficult and that the funding cuts we have seen to the housing budget have hit hard, both in terms of the number of houses being built and the knock on effect in the construction sector. However, the reality is that funding has significantly reduced and demand for affordable housing in Angus is rising. So within these parameters housing providers can either decide not to develop or they can seek to find solutions which allow the provision of housing to continue. Servite has chosen the latter and will continue to find ways to provide affordable housing now and in the future and in doing so will work proactively and positively with the council and other willing housing providers to do so.

“We remain delighted that our bid to the Scottish Government was successful and this will allow us to complete the development in Arbroath which will provide 20 affordable properties in the town.”