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Families move into first new 'workers homes' in Aviemore

By Gavin Musgrove

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Some of those involved in the project – including Mark Tate (centre) gathered at the homes in Aviemore as they took shape towards the end of last year.
Some of those involved in the project – including Mark Tate (centre) gathered at the homes in Aviemore as they took shape towards the end of last year.

Four families who work for local businesses in and around Aviemore have moved into their new homes in the village thanks to a pioneering project.

The high-quality homes at the Cairnview Road development were built for Highland Housing Alliance by Upland Developments Limited and will accompany an existing 10 Cairn Housing Association homes near to the new hospital at Dalfaber.

The HHA homes will be rented to the new tenants at mid-market rent levels which are typically more than local authority and housing association rent levels but less than private rent.

Designed and led by HHA and the Cairngorms Business Partnership respectively, last year local businesses came together to form the Cairngorms Housing Partnership.

Members pay a small fee that allows their employees to take priority for available mid-market rental properties subject to meeting relevant criteria, in a bid to ensure there is substantial housing stock for the local workforce.

Following the success of the pilot scheme in Aviemore, around 30 more mid-market rent properties across Badenoch and Strathspey will be made available over the next couple of years, beginning with a further two in Kincraig in late Autumn.

Mark Tate, CEO Cairngorms Business Partnership, commented: “The lack of housing that is available for people who want to live in, work in and care for the national park is one of the major challenges for our businesses, economy and communities.

“We are delighted that businesses have come together to invest their time and money in finding practical solutions to this long-standing problem.

"We first spoke about this idea at a housing summit we held in November last year and, thanks to our partners at Highland Council and HHA, it is amazing to see families enjoying new homes they otherwise would have struggled to access just seven months earlier.”

Gail Matheson, chief executive at HHA, said: “To ensure that we future-proof Highland communities and local economies, then it is imperative that we provide high-quality housing at affordable rates.

“Alongside key partners and stakeholders, HHA has delivered fantastic, new housing options in Aviemore and it’s brilliant to see families start to enjoy living at Cairnview Road.

"We’re now focused on replicating this scheme to other communities in Scotland as we address the acute demand for high-quality homes for local employees and their families.”

One of the new tenants is local businessman Stephen Bruce who, with his partner Chris Lewis, operates both Kilted Fudge and Aviemore Post Office.

He said: “Without this scheme and the home we have managed to secure we were in danger of having to move out of the area from where it would have been extremely challenging to operate the local post office so putting this essential local service and the great team who work with us at risk.”

Convener of The Highland Council, local councillor and Aviemore resident, Bill Lobban said: "This is a small but significant step in ensuring we deliver affordable housing for people to live and work in Badenoch and Strathspey.

"It is the result of close partnership working between the Highland Council, Cairngorm Business Partnership and Highland Housing Alliance with support for the Scottish Government and is part of the mix which will include building more affordable homes for the local rental market and potentially the control of short term lets."

Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes, and Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, attended the summit in November along with her colleague Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government.

The local MSP commented “It is hugely exciting to see families move into these new homes. This demonstrates that there are various housing models available to support people working in Badenoch and Strathspey.

"I pay tribute to the various partners for delivering these houses, which I hope are just the start.”

The CBP, with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, is now investigating how the pilot can be rolled out across other local authority areas in the national park as well as working with Communities Housing Trust and other partners to explore 'even more ambitious solutions to this perennial problem'.

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