Whitebeam Homes

Our plans

Scotland is experiencing a chronic shortage of affordable homes. Rural and island settings are not immune, and as ‘Scotland in miniature’, Arran is typical.

We have established Whitebeam Homes to administer our property, and to build up a fund to purchase properties available on the open market.  This will move us on from the initial generous contribution of £100,000 from The United Reformed Church, which has a long-standing commitment to securing affordable homes.

The company has two approaches:

  • to use charitable funds to buy homes available on the open market, taking professional advice from surveyors and lawyers to ensure management of risk
  • to act as a factor on rented property for owners who do not wish to sell, but would like to see their property used.  We have been approached by a few owners on Arran, and would like to hear from others.

Published policies will make clear key issues: whether property is available for sale or for rent; how decisions about allocation will be made. The basic intent is that they should be for local people or people moving to Arran to take up work, who cannot afford to buy or rent through other routes.  Having established our first initiative on Arran, we are looking to move to other areas, including mainland Ayrshire.  The trust will be responsible for management of the properties and relationships with residents, though this may be devolved to others.

Our work supplements new building of affordable homes on the island by social housing providers.

A survey on Arran in 20071 identified a need for 150 new units of affordable housing in the period 2008-13. Local people find it hard to compete on the open market for housing, particularly due to Arran’s accessibility to the Central Belt.

Opportunities

A number of factors make this the right time to initiate this project:

  • There are significant numbers of houses for sale on Arran and the mainland, at prices lower than they were three years ago
  • This approach fits with key national outcomes promoted by the Scottish Government—resilient communities; sustainable places; tackling inequalities; offering employment opportunities and a good start in life for our children
  • It provides a good, practical way to use money to help local people, and at the same time to build and sustain the community
  • It is an opportunity to provide homes in the communities where applicants already live
  • It is making a difference in Arran, and we believe the model can be used in other parts of Scotland, island and mainland, rural and urban
  • It supplements scarce resources for building new, affordable homes, injecting cash and short-cutting the often tortuous planning and building processes.