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Housing Minister Kevin Stewart officially opens new Blairgowrie housing development

The newly built Blackthorn Place is a joint project between Hillcrest Homes and Perth and Kinross Council

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An £8 million affordable housing development in Blairgowrie which has delivered 71 high-quality rural homes was officially opened on Monday by Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP.

The newly built Blackthorn Place is a joint project between Hillcrest Homes and Perth and Kinross Council. Mr Stewart was given a tour of the site before declaring the development open.

The Minister was welcomed by Hillcrest’s Chairperson Alan Russell, Chief Executive Angela Linton and Director of Development David Zwirlein along with Councillor Bob Brawn, Perth and Kinross Council’s Housing and Communities Convener.

Mr Stewart also met with some of the new tenants who discussed the huge difference that their new housing had made to them.

Constructed by Stewart Milne Homes, the development has created 71 new affordable homes – 37 of which are being managed by Perth and Kinross Council and 34 by Hillcrest.

Forty-six of the new homes are available for affordable social rent and another 25 have been allocated for mid-market rent, aimed at people on modest incomes who may not be in a position to buy their own home.

As well as rented housing, the development includes 13 homes that were marketed by the council to buy on a shared-equity basis, providing an opportunity for people to get on the housing ladder.

Blackthorn Place was built using a subsidy of £1,942,550 from Perth and Kinross Council’s allocation from the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing Investment Programme.

The development was designed to include a mixture of social rent, mid-market rent and private ownership to create an inclusive and vibrant community. Construction began in October 2017, with the final houses being completed this month.

All of the new homes have been developed to be energy efficient in order to save tenants money on energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint. Solar panels, gas central heating, smart meters and high-performance insulation are included.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “It was a fantastic to see first-hand the difference these new energy efficient homes are making to tenants’ lives. Not only will they provide safe, warm, affordable places to live, these quality homes will contribute to a thriving local community.

“This development is testament to our effective partnership working with local authorities, housing associations and developers, keeping us on track to achieve our ambitious target of 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.”

Hillcrest Chairman Alan Russell, who welcomed Mr Stewart to the development, said: “We’re delighted to have delivered these 71 homes in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council in such a beautiful area.

“The rural locale, as well as the variety of homes offered give families a fantastic opportunity to have an affordable home in an area they can flourish in and be proud of.”

Councillor Bob Brawn said: “Providing much-needed affordable housing, for a variety of different kinds of tenants, in rural communities, like Blairgowrie, is very important.

“All these new homes will provide additional high-quality accommodation in the town and enhance the lives of the people who live in them. Providing good quality housing here will also make people want to remain living in Blairgowrie, which is good for the town’s economy and community.

“Building more affordable housing is a key priority Perth and Kinross Council. Our multi-million-pound building programme, combined with our work supporting new builds through our housing association partners, has seen over 500 additional homes delivered right across Perth and Kinross since 2012. This includes over 200 new Council homes. Most of these new properties have been built in areas where there is an acute shortage of affordable housing for local people.”

Richard Fawcus, Stewart Milne Homes North Land Director, said: “We are committed to working with housing associations and local authorities to deliver affordable housing to meet the demand across Scotland. This has seen us provide more affordable homes than we are required to on our developments.

“Through great design, we are demonstrating that we can create inclusive communities that work for everyone.”

Pictured: Hillcrest tenant Karen Leith and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.