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Land Price Inflation (Social Housing)

Finance and Public Services and Communities – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 16th September 2004.

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Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat 2:00 pm, 16th September 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive how it plans to address the impact of inflation of land prices on the construction of social housing. (S2O-3225)

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

As part of the review of affordable housing, we have carried out an analysis of price inflation of residential land, which we will factor into the outcomes of our review.

Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat

I thank the minister and put on record the thanks of communities in the Borders for the £1.5 million additional housing support to buy land for social housing there. Is she aware of statistics that the Bank of Scotland sent me over the summer showing that, in my constituency, the average property price is now nearly £139,000, which is an increase on the previous year of 44 per cent? Is she aware of the difficulty that that will cause younger people in particular who are trying to enter the housing market or secure social housing? Will she ensure that her department works with Communities Scotland and the lenders to see whether there are productive ways for us to address the issue?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

Yes. I am grateful for the response from many organisations in the Borders to the extra resource of £1.5 million. I am sure that Jeremy Purvis will appreciate that that came out of his invitation to me to visit the Borders, where I saw at first hand some of the challenges that communities there face. I understand some of the particular issues around house price inflation that we have in Scotland, which is why we initiated our affordable housing review. I will ensure that the points that Jeremy Purvis made are factored appropriately into that review.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

I do not think that I will be part of this love-in. Given that applications for social housing in the Scottish Borders rose from 582 last year to 817 this year, which is an increase of 40 per cent, will the minister consider—for the whole of Scotland, not just the Borders—introducing the right for local authorities to acquire 20 per cent of development sites purchased by private developers for the provision of affordable housing and requiring that developers who have acquired such zoned land have a time limit for completion of the project?

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

Those kinds of issues are among the ones that we are considering in the review of affordable housing. The member will know that we are considering the modernisation of planning, into which those issues will factor.

Christine Grahame has not been part of the love-in, because I have not received terribly many questions from her on housing, particularly housing in the Borders. As you would expect, Presiding Officer, I have done some research for question time. I asked my officials to indicate how many questions I have had from Christine Grahame. The answer in my notes is:

"To inform the minister we have a written PQ from Christine Grahame just arrived on the system a few minutes ago."

I welcome Christine Grahame to her new status as my shadow. If she wants to find out more about housing in the Borders, perhaps she could have a word with Jeremy Purvis.