The Local Housing Strategy Guidance states that early engagement with key partners and stakeholders is key to identifying priorities and agreeing, through a range of options, how to deal with the priorities identified. Consultation began at the very beginning of the development of the Local Housing Strategy 2017-2022.
During the development of the draft strategy, a stakeholder conference was held in March 2016. The aim of the conference was to build on the vision, priorities and outcomes from the 2012-2017 LHS and assist in defining the forthcoming LHS aims and objectives. A total of 41 partners and stakeholders participated in the one day event.
Four half day workshop sessions were held in May 2016 to inform the definition of the key LHS priorities, together with a range of viable options for addressing them. The participants were specialist stakeholders drawn from across the council and its partnership organisations.
Another four half day workshop sessions were held in May to systematically appraise potential strategic options for inclusion in the LHS, and identify key actions for ensuring their delivery. The outputs from these sessions inform the LHS outcome and action plans, and will inform the delivery plans which will be produced subsequently. Again, the participants were specialist stakeholders drawn from across the council and it partner organisations.
Former consultation on our LHS (2017-22) opened in August 2016 and closed on the 31st October 2016. This included:
- A set of questions were developed to help direct feedback on the Strategy, these were then developed into an online questionnaire.
- Letters were sent out to wide range of stakeholders who we weren’t able to email. The letter points people to the website for the online survey or request a paper copy.
- The consultation was widely publicised – press releases, using social media, SBC website and partnership organisation websites
- Numerous flyers, posters and copies of the consultative draft of the strategy have been printed and distributed through the Scottish Borders
- A wide range of equalities groups that were involved in this process
- 41 partners and stakeholders participated in the conference held in March and the option and appraisal sessions in May
- 23 responses were received from the formal consolation
The main housing issues noted by the respondents tend to reflect the priorities for the 2017-22 LHS. Just under half of all respondents noted the lack of affordable housing as a main housing issue. Other issues which emerged from the consultation include; the lack of specialist housing for older people, the poor accessibility of housing to allow younger people to remain in the Borders and the need for the supply of housing to reflect demand (i.e. the right housing in the right place).
The LHS Vision
In terms of the vision for the Council’s 2017-22 LHS, over half of all respondents felt that it is strong enough to reach our ambition for housing in the Scottish Borders, with the strategic nature making it “strong, ambitious and easy for people to understand”. It was noted, however, that it would only be a strong enough vision if there is enough funding in place to support it and there is the right level of involvement from all relevant partners. The respondents who felt that the vision isn’t strong enough noted that it was “very vague” and, given the extent of the problem, there needs to be greater emphasis on the lack of affordable housing in the Borders.
The LHS Priorities
Just under half of all respondents felt that the LHS priorities reflect the main housing issues in the Scottish Borders. Despite this, some respondents highlighted the need to address the specific locality differences facing the Borders, i.e. “not all areas in the Scottish Borders face the same challenges”. Just under half of all respondents (10) also felt that there are no emerging priorities that are currently missing from the 2017-22 LHS. However, some comments were made in relation to the need to retain economically active people, ensuring the appropriate support provision is in place for elderly people in their homes and the need for increased support for owner occupiers who may be “stuck” in unsuitable properties.
LHS Priority 1
Just under half of all respondents felt that the actions proposed for LHS Priority 1 are the right ones to tackle the issue of housing supply. However, similarly to comments made above, some respondents felt that there needs to be a greater focus on the affordability of housing in the Borders and the need for greater locality planning at a sub-area level. A comment was also made regarding the potential inclusion of mid-market rent properties in the Borders, given it is an attractive alternative to mortgage finance and there is enough demand in the area to justify its inclusion. The issue of a number of sites having been identified in the housing land audit but remain undeveloped was also highlighted, and the need for the Council to interrogate these sites to justify their inclusion in the LDP.
LHS Priority 2
Almost half of all respondents felt that the actions proposed for LHS Priority 2 are the right ones to tackle poor housing quality and improve energy efficiency. However, some of the actions that respondents felt should be included within the 2017-22 LHS are; tackling the lack of access to the gas grid in rural areas, focusing on the high levels of fuel poverty in the older population and increased funding to help private owners maintain their homes.
LHS Priority 3
Half of all respondents felt that the actions proposed for LHS Priority 3 are the right ones to tackle the issue of homelessness in the Borders. Having said this, some respondents highlighted the need to work collaboratively is crucial in order to tackle the issue effectively, e.g. to reduce the length of stay in temporary accommodation, to establish an effective relationship with employability services and ensuring there is an effective care system for homeless people to help tackle the problems that are associated with homelessness.
LHS Priority 4
Over two thirds of respondents felt that the actions proposed for LHS Priority 4 are the right ones to support independent living throughout the Borders. Some respondents noted that the “actions appear focused and appropriate” however we need to ensure that “adequate support” is in place to allow people to live independently for longer. It was also noted that the successful implementation of this priority is dependent on effective locality planning, and an opportunity for H&SC partners to maintain positive working relationships with RSLs in the Borders.
- Considered all consultation responses received
- Produced a summary report identifying the main points raised
- Submitted the summary report to the Scottish Government as part of the peer review process
The content of the responses was collated, reviewed and analysed. A number of key themes emerged from the responses which are reflected in the LHS, around the diversity of the Scottish Borders and the consequent need for appropriate local solutions; the need for affordable housing across the Borders; the housing needs of the ageing population; and the need to address poor quality and energy inefficient housing. The information from the consultations was used throughout the drafting of the LHS, to inform the development of the priorities, the options, and actions. As the LHS moved towards its final draft, the material from the consultations contributed to the sense-checking/validating the Strategy, particularly around the vision, the range of issues covered by the LHS, and the LHS priorities.
Local Housing Strategy
Following on from the three month consultation period the LHS was submitted to the Scottish Government for Peer Review, this process took approximately fourteen weeks. All comments from the consultation, peer review, workshop and appraisal sessions will be incorporated into the final draft of the LHS. The final strategy will be launched in June.