Minister hails the first council houses in Dunbar for 37 years

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Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil paid a visit to the first council houses to be built in Dunbar for 37 years.

He met new tenants William (Raymond) and Ella Walker, during his tour of the Brunt Place/James Court site where 88 new homes are under construction.

The first to be built in the town since 1974, the £7.4 million contract, awarded to Ogilvie Construction Ltd, is backed by almost £2.2 million funding from the Scottish Government.

The new properties range from one-bedroom flats to three-bedroom houses, with two and three-bedroom homes for wheelchair users.

The first three phases of the six phase development are now complete and the first tenants have moved in. The area was allocated for housing in the East Lothian Local Plan 2005 and the planning go-ahead for the project was granted a year ago, with building work starting in August.

In total, the Scottish Government is supporting 267 new council houses in East Lothian across the three rounds of funding.

Mr Neil said Scotland was experiencing a sharp rise in council house building with more than 700 new homes planned nationwide by the end of March 2011. Ministers have allocated almost £80 million to help 23 local authorities kick start building projects over three years that should result in over 3,000 new council homes while supporting around 2,000 construction jobs.

Mr Neil said: “Council houses are springing up all over Scotland with hundreds planned this year. That compares to six built by the previous administration between 2003 and 2007.

“Scottish Government funding has helped local authorities to continue to reverse the decades of decline in council house building. That is good news for families across the country that want access to high quality, affordable homes.

“This government will continue to work hard to safeguard jobs, support the construction industry and keep the economy moving.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, East Lothian Council’s cabinet member for housing and community safety, commented: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Neil to Dunbar to see the completed first phases of this development and to meet some of the tenants. East Lothian Council is committed to providing high quality, modern and attractive homes for our tenants and we are happy to be funding this along with the Scottish government. This Dunbar development is just one of the excellent building projects we’re are currently undertaking.”

Jonathan Fair, chief executive of home building industry body Homes for Scotland, said: “This, quite literally, represents concrete proof of the benefits public sector investment in housing is having on the private sector in terms of protecting jobs, skills and capacity.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Building more council houses is one of the ways to tackle Scotland’s chronic shortage of affordable homes.

“We welcome these new council houses which are good news for people stuck on waiting lists.

“Shelter Scotland has been campaigning fervently for more affordable homes to be built and, while today’s news is a step in the right direction, we urge the Scottish Government to make investment in housing a national priority.”