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Housing: LIVE Park explains (Part 1)

Hello – Housing is one of the biggest issues for planning in the National Park, but it’s a complex issue and is perhaps the one section of the LIVE Park Main Issues Report that might seem a bit heavy-going for some people to read!

With that in mind, this is the first of three blog posts that we hope will clearly explain how the Planning Policies we’re suggesting in the Main Issues Report can help ensure the right housing is built in the Park.  (For full details of our housing proposals, you should read pages 57 – 67 of our Main Issues Report.)

So, are you sitting comfortably?  Then let’s begin…

What are the housing issues in the National Park? 

In a nutshell, it’s a highly desirable place to live, which means that housing is very expensive. Over the last 10 years, 7 out of 10 houses in the area were bought by people from outside the National Park. People buy homes for retirement, second homes, lifestyle changes and, especially in the south of the Park, for commuting to the central belt.

The National Park is one of the most expensive places to buy a house in Scotland. This makes it difficult for people living and working in the Park to find a home. It also makes it difficult for people to move into the Park unless they are able to afford relatively expensive houses.

The Park has a declining and an ageing population. More housing is needed to help address both of these issues – to attract people to the area and to keep them here, and to ensure that the housing in the Park meets the needs of everyone in its communities.

Lochgoilhead housing

So why not just build more housing?

It’s not that simple. At the moment, we have lots of land identified as suitable and available for housing in our current Local Plan, yet very little is being built. The recession has affected development rates all over Scotland.  The lack of housing development we’re seeing in the Park is also a reflection of the challenging nature of developing in a rural area such as the National Park where sites tend to be small scale and often technically challenging to develop due to topography (or the type and surface of land that is available), infrastructure  (whether that is access to power, water or even roads) or landscape issues (many areas within the Park need to be protected from development).

Our Local Plan identifies a very ambitious target of around 75 new houses being built in the National Park a year.  This completely contrasts with previous planning policies which were intended to limit housing development within the Park. We need to make sure that we continue to safeguard the outstanding landscape and environmental qualities of the area from development pressures, but we think more housing is crucial to help address predicted population change we discussed above, and the high levels of housing need and demand within the Park.  When we’ve been out talking to communities around the Park, many have echoed this and expressed concerns about keeping services like shops going and providing facilities such as primary schools within the local area.

So, we think that we should still strive to see around 75 new homes being built within the National Park every year, but we want to hear people’s views on this – do you agree that we should aim for this level of housing growth within the Park?

Part 2 of our Housing blog will be posted soon.

In the mean time, please let us know your thoughts or to make a formal response to the Main Issues Report.

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