Community-led housing can help rural Scotland thrive

It is time for more community-led housing to help rural Scotland thrive.

Scottish Green MSP Ariane Burgess has called for community-led housing to be rolled out at speed and scale using a network of building hubs to help rural Scotland thrive. 

Such a programme, she said, would help to ensure young people and families in particular, who are currently struggling to find affordable homes, can stay and contribute to local circular and well-being economies.

The Scottish Government  has a commitment to build 11,000 new affordable rural homes in Scotland by 2032. Ms Burgess said the pace of that can be accelerated by looking at existing community-led models. 

In her Members’ Debate at the Scottish Parliament Ariane Burgess said:

“This can be done by setting up construction hubs - staging areas for materials and equipment at key locations, so we aren’t starting from scratch every time.

“Materials would be purchased in bulk for a number of projects. This would reduce costs, and carbon emissions from hauling long distances, and create local employment, utilising the often overlooked North Highland circular economy and community wealth building potential.”

Ms Burgess, the Scottish Greens housing spokesperson, added:

“This model is not just for the Highlands, it could work in other parts of my region and in the south of Scotland.

“The Rural and Island Housing Fund and the Scottish Land Fund are game changers and with Scottish Greens in Government both of those funds have been secured with a commitment to increase them.

“Scottish Greens also secured the commitment to ensure community housing trusts are adequately funded so that they can support the delivery of our enhanced rural home building plans. These trusts are crucial for communities finding the confidence and building capacity to take on their home building and place-making projects”.

She referenced projects including Community Land Scotland, Assynt Development Trust, Communities Housing Trust, Gairloch and Loch Ewe Action forum, Staffin Trust, Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust, Invergarry Development Trust, Woodland Trust, Hope Co-Housing and South of Scotland Community Trust as positive examples. 

“Communities know what they need. They have a proven track record and tremendous network for peer-to-peer learning. Community-Led Housing enables rural communities to thrive and is an investment in people and place.

“Let’s support communities to get on with it and follow their lead. Let’s deliver on the Bute House Agreement commitments, fund the enablers, invest in the set-up of the staging posts for materials and prioritise a dedicated workforce. Let’s start rolling out community-lead housing at the scale needed to reach our ambitious commitment to 2032.”