Funding boost for proposed station at Robroyston

The Scottish GovernmentThe Scottish Government has given a huge boost to plans for a new railway station for Robroyston.

The new station proposals, which include a park & ride car park, are designed to provide local residents with a sustainable travel option, as well as catering for additional future demand from the 1,600 new households planned for the Robroyston area.

The Scottish Government has committed to meet 50% of the station`s currently estimated construction costs – over £7 million – through the Scottish Stations Fund. The remainder is expected to be met by the scheme promoters Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Glasgow City Council, and private developers.

This investment reaffirms the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in Scotland`s railways, ensuring that more people are able to access the rail network.

Minister for Transport, Humza Yousaf said: “I am very pleased to announce this substantial funding package for a new station for Robroyston.

This is a significant announcement, with Robroyston the first new station project to be funded by the Scottish Stations Fund, which was introduced to improve and increase access to rail across Scotland.

This announcement highlights the Scottish Government`s continued investment in rail infrastructure and services to better connect our communities and support sustainable economic growth and jobs across the country, with £5 billion of funding for infrastructure and services committed to 2019.”

Loans to help make warmer homes

£1.9bn net benefit to improve energy efficiencyNew £10 million pilot scheme has been announced which will increase energy efficiency and help repair homes across Scotland.

More people will be able to make their homes warm and water-tight through a new £10 million fund that will also boost the building trades.

The pilot scheme in Glasgow, Argyll and Bute and Perthshire will provide equity loans of up to £40,000 to home owners on low incomes to help them make essential repairs to leaking roofs and building structures.

The funding can be used either as a single equity loan or with other existing Scottish Government grants to fund more expensive measures like solid wall insulation or a package of energy efficiency works.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced the pilot ahead of his attendance at the launch of Under One Roof. The new website will provide free and impartial advice to private flat owners and help them understand their obligations when it comes to property and shared spaces.

He said: “Making sure everyone has access to a warm and affordable home is a priority for this Government which is why we have committed half a billion pounds over the next four years, meaning over £1 billion by 2021, to tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency.

We know leaking roofs and poor building structures can drive up energy bills and make them more difficult to heat, but for low income households they can often be too costly to repair.

This £10 million scheme will provide households with loans to carry out essential repair work and install energy efficiency improvements.

This will help us make homes warmer and easier to heat, with our record investment already resulting in two fifths of Scottish homes now being in the top three energy efficiency ratings – an increase of 71% since 2010.”

Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of SFHA, said: “We welcome the announcement of the equity loan scheme. It is extremely important that we invest in the energy efficiency of existing homes to provide affordable warmth and reduce carbon emissions. It is also important that we invest in existing buildings and keep them in a good state of repair.”

Housing boost for the Islands

Help to Buy scheme boosts house buildingUp to 100 affordable homes will be built in island communities through a new £5 million fund.

Speaking during a Scottish Parliament debate Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced the Scottish Government will establish a new Islands Housing Fund – backed by up to £5 million funding over three years – to increase the availability of affordable housing in the islands.

This investment is in addition to the £25 million Rural Housing Fund which is supporting the building of new homes and refurbishment of existing properties in rural areas.

Mr Stewart said:“Scotland’s islands have rich and vibrant cultures and make a huge contribution to Scottish life but we know people living there can face challenges when it comes to accessing the home they want.

Our new £5 million Islands Housing Fund will increase the supply of good quality affordable housing which is an essential part of attracting and retaining people in our islands.

Investment in this support for the islands and through the Rural Housing Fund will help us deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament and ensure we are reaching across all of Scotland in our ambitions.

“Our Islands Housing Fund demonstrates our strong and continued support for our islands, with the forthcoming Islands Bill set to provide lasting benefits for these communities for generations to come.”

More affordable housing approved

House building starts hit 7-year highThe number of affordable homes in Scotland has increased by 26% on the previous year, bringing the total number of approvals over the year to 8,067.

Official statistics published this week show that during 2015-16, the number of new house builds started, across the public and private sector, rose to 16,910, a 4% increase on the previous year and the highest number of starts since 2008-9.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the figures showed good early progress towards delivering the Scottish Government’s ambitious target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

Speaking ahead of a visit to a new housing development in Edinburgh which will provide 236 affordable homes in the city, Mr Stewart said: “We have an excellent track record on housing. The number of affordable home completions from April 2007 to end March 2016 was 60,704 – on average 24% more per year than the 38,015 delivered between April 2000 and March 2007.

“In the previous session of Parliament, we exceeded our target of delivering 30,000 affordable homes, and our bold and ambitious More Homes Scotland approach will build on that achievement.

“We have committed to investing over £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years. This is accompanied by increased housing subsidy levels and a new Rural Housing Fund to boost the supply of affordable rural housing.

“We’ve also helped stimulate growing confidence in the private housing market and supported people into home ownership, in particular through our £500 million Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme.”

Funding boost for low carbon schemes

The Scottish GovernmentBidders hoping to share a £8 million European Regional Development fund (ERDF) have been given a boost thanks to Transport Scotland.

Thirty nine projects will benefit from support of up to £10k each, enabling them to develop ideas in preparation for launch of the ERDF Low Carbon Travel and Transport (LCTT) challenge fund later this year.

Many of the bids aim to deliver local regeneration and economic development benefits, while boosting growth and creating new jobs.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands said: “We need to maximise this ERDF investment to support our low carbon travel and transport aspirations by establishing a strong network of these across Scotland by December 2018.

The Pre-Application Support Fund received a high-level of interest and I’m delighted that funding is being offered to a wide range of public sector bodies, as well as a number of community and third sector organisations to help them develop their ideas.

The quality of the applications received is pleasing and I hope that many of these will be developed to form strong bids for the full ERDF challenge fund, once this launches later in the year.”

Balfour Beatty gets £35m Perth Transport contract

Balfour Beatty gets £35m Perth Transport contractBalfour Beatty has been awarded a £35 million contract to deliver the first phase of the Perth Transport Futures Project, which will support growth in Scotland’s third fastest developing region.

Balfour Beatty will create a new grade separated junction on the A9 dual carriageway as well as a new link road enabling access to development land to the west of the city.

This is the first of four phases of the Perth Transport Futures project which aims to alleviate congestion, enhance accessibility to the city and unlock £500 million of economic growth for the local economy.

Hector Macaulay, Balfour Beatty Regional Managing Director, Scotland, said: “Delivery of this project will provide significant opportunities for local sub-contractors and suppliers, ensuring that the Perth and Kinross community not only benefits from greatly improved infrastructure, but also from the added economic benefit delivered through this scheme.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, said: “Through our National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework, Balfour Beatty and Perth and Kinross Councils have already formed a close partnership and this will help to ensure a streamlined and efficient first phase of the Perth Transport Futures Project.

Through the framework, the council is investing in the local economy and delivering added value for local residents as well as new opportunities for local SMEs, further enhancing growth in this rapidly developing region.”

The works are due to commence in September 2016, with completion expected in Spring 2019. The scheme will employ around 100 people and will provide a number of apprenticeship opportunities. 

More affordable homes for Fort William

The Scottish GovernmentNew affordable homes will be built in the Fort William area as a result of the Scottish Government investing over £2.5 million in charitable bonds.

Charitable bonds are ethical financial products – no profit is taken by Allia, a social investment charity who issues the bonds on the Scottish Government’s behalf. Allia have provided Lochaber Housing Association with a loan of over £2 million.

The interest on the loan, over half a million pounds, is converted into a charitable donation, which the Scottish Government gives to housing associations for the construction of new social housing

There has been considerable success with previous charitable bonds that have been issued with total investments now over £40 million.

This seventh bond provided development finance for 581 affordable homes, and generated over £9 million for charities of which £6.7 million will go towards the construction of new social housing.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:”Good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland’s remote and rural communities.

We have committed to deliver 50,000 more affordable homes over the next five years, backed up with investment of more than £3 billion. Announcements such as this one today marks another step on road to delivering that pledge.

Innovative financing schemes such as charitable bonds play a major role in helping us deliver this major expansion in housing supply. We invested £25 million last year and have committed to invest the same again this year and we remain the only Government in the UK to do so.

Through these bonds we are also maintaining Scotland’s leadership in financial innovation, working with partners to deliver more for less public investment.”