We do not build houses. But as the organisation responsible for planning in the National Park, we try to make sure new buildings are of a type needed by people who live and work locally. This is to help address the projected decline in population in the National Park. New affordable homes can help retain and attract people to live in the National Park and support local businesses and help retain local community services, such as primary education.
We do this through:
- our Local Development Plan which set a target of 75 new homes a year and allocates land for housing and set housing policies which are designed to address the pressures of second homes and encourage more affordable homes to be built.
- Engaging and working with local communities to help identify local housing need and supporting them in creating Local Place Plans.
- Working closely with local housing associations and the councils to find out what’s needed.
- Being involved in the various Local Housing Strategies.
What is the housing need and demand in the National Park?
There is huge pressure for new housing in the National Park mainly from those seeking to retire or find a property to use as a second home or for a lifestyle change including hybrid working options post pandemic. There is pressure in the southern area of the park for those commuting into the central belt. There are also homes used for short-term letting which can bring economic benefit to the park but it is also in some cases affecting the availability of homes to rent for locals. You can find out more here about short-term licensing and control areas. This pressure increases house prices and creates a critical need for affordable housing for those working in the National Park on lower incomes. Local Authority housing need and demand assessments (produced by Stirling and Argyll and Bute Councils) have shown that there is specifically a need for smaller sized households and more modest sized family homes. There is also a need for homes suitable for an ageing population such a bungalows or sheltered housing.
What is affordable housing?
Affordable housing is housing that is available to people on modest incomes who generally cannot afford to buy or rent housing on the open market. Affordable housing includes social-rented housing via housing associations or local authorities (also known as a Registered Social Landlord), mid-market rent, shared equity, discounted sale and self-build housing. Affordable housing tends to be restricted to ensure the housing is provided to households that are unable to address their housing needs independently in the housing market and that need some form of assistance.
For a more detailed explanation of definitions of affordable housing please look at our Supplementary Housing Guidance and the Scottish Government Planning Advice Note 2/2010: Affordable Housing.
What are we doing to deliver more affordable housing?
Our Local Development Plan has detailed housing policies and also identifies land for housing and the types of housing required (a mix of open market and affordable). We work with the four local housing authorities that cover the National Park and other housing partners, such as housing associations and private developers, to ensure that there is enough land and sites identified within the National Park to meet housing needs and demands, and that funding for new affordable housing development is in place.
Further info and links:
• Our four local authority partners are: Argyll and Bute Council, Stirling Council, West Dunbartonshire Council and Perth & Kinross Council.
• The affordable housing providers operating within the National Park are Stirling Council Housing Service, Rural Stirling Housing Association and Link in the north and east area of the Park and Dunbritton, Fyne Homes and Argyll Community Housing Association in the west and south of the Park. Hillcrest also operate in Perth and Kinross council area. These associations and local authorities have properties to rent or buy a share in, or you can register your interest in an affordable home with them. In Argyll there is a central website – Home Argyll where you can register interest.
What are we doing about second homes and short-term lets?
We are currently considering the use of Short-Term Control areas, see further information here.
In terms of second homes, there is some ambiguity around the term, however tends to be described as a home that is not the owners only residence and therefore is used by its owner or medium/long-term tenant as an alternative residence for themselves (usually occupied for 6 months of less). An owner also might use the house as their second home but then let out to holiday makers at other times. It is therefore often hard to distinguish between second homes and short-term letting properties. Those that do live in their second homes for 6 months or more within a year often contribute significantly to the community. However, those properties that are empty for long periods offer very little benefit to the community where they remove affordable housing stock from the market or the economy. The increased trend in second homes is generally having an impact upon affordability of housing stock in the National Park by driving up prices and reducing the availability of housing within the market. There is currently no clear definition of a second home and no legislation or control powers that enable us to tackle the issue of second homes or data available for us to fully quantify the exact number of second homes vs short-term lets as those registered as second homes via council tax may also be rented out to holiday makers as a short-term let. However, most short-term lets tend not be registered as a second home as they pay business rates.
What are we doing about long term empty homes?
Long-term empty homes are a wasted resource at a time when the National Park needs more homes and also we need to tackle climate change. Our policies support bringing homes back into use, subdivision of existing homes to create smaller properties and also change of use to housing, where the existing use is not a protected use such as tourism or retail use. We work closely with both Stirling Council and Argyll and Bute Empty Homes Officers. An Empty Home Officer can offer help and support if you own an empty property, wish to report an empty property or wish to buy an empty property.
Further info and links:
• Stirling Council Empty Homes
• Argyll and Bute Council Empty Homes
• West Dunbartonshire Empty Homes
Where are new houses being approved and built?
Our annual Monitoring Report and Housing Land Audit (see here) provides an overview of how many houses are being approved and built across the National Park. The headlines from the last 5 years (2017-2022) are:
- Since the Local Development Plan was adopted in 2017 there has been an average of 77 units approved and an average of 43 units completed per year.
- Affordable housing (social rent) delivery since the Plan was adopted has included:
- 26 new homes at Succoth by Dunbritton Housing Association
- 73 new homes at Callander by Rural Stirling Housing Association
- 26 new homes at Balloch by Cube Housing Association
- 5 new homes at Luss by Link Housing Association
- 4 new homes at Callander by Stirling Council
- We have also approved a number of affordable homes that offer different models – such as discounted sale and rental properties for key workers. None have been built in the last 5 years given housing provider’s priority to tackle housing waiting lists for social rent.
- Of the open market housing approved, eight of these are required to provide a financial contribution (commuted sum) towards affordable housing provision elsewhere in the local area.
I want to build a new house or housing development. What do I need to know?
Our Local Development Plan and associated guidance documents, particularly our Housing Guidance, is the first place to start. This will tell you the location and type of housing that is supported.
We offer a pre-application service and we have a range of planning advice leaflets including advice on how to make a valid application, and undertaking pre-application consultation for a major application. For further advice you can contact our Development Management Team on tel: 01389 722024 or email: email@example.com
We also have a new requirement to keep a self-build register which is a list of people interested in acquiring land for self-build housing. This is currently being set up and a form will be available soon on our website. In the meantime, please get in touch with our Development Planning team at 01389 722600 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can add you to the list which will be published in due course.