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Society AGM celebrates new build progress across Highland

Albyn Housing Society’s ambitious plans to build 750 new affordable homes across the region by 2020 have made a concrete start.

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Albyn Housing Society’s ambitious plans to build 750 new affordable homes across the region by 2020 have made a concrete start according to its recent AGM report which recorded 130 completions across nine Highland communities during the past financial year.

Announced in April, the new build programme comprising homes for social rent, shared-equity purchase and mid-market rent (via its new subsidiary Highland Residential (Inverness) Ltd), has so far been supported by almost £11m in Scottish Government grant funding as well as £6m of £30m private placement funding secured by the Society earlier this year.

This success, according to the Albyn Housing Society Board, has been achieved in spite of a challenging climate of increasing rent arrears, largely created by the ongoing roll out of Universal Credit. Over the past year, staff have succeeded in reducing rent arrears by 20 per cent by working closely with tenants and support agencies, while also increasing the society’s major repairs investment by 80 per cent on the previous year.

Douglas Russell, Chairman at Albyn Housing Society, said: “By its very nature, Albyn Housing Society is an ambitious organisation. The past year in particular has demonstrated its commitment to rapidly increasing the supply of quality affordable homes across the region, while maintaining the highest standards of service to its customers and navigating notable challenges such as the troubled roll out of Universal Credit.

“This couldn’t have been achieved without the support of the Society’s dedicated and knowledgeable staff, the Highland Council, the Scottish Government and our other partners. Innovation has also played an enormous role in transforming the way we deliver services and new build programmes, and two shining examples are the FitHomes development planned for Dalmore, and the approach to mid-market rent being taken by Highland Residential.

“We look forward to hearing more on other exciting projects in the coming months.”

At the AGM, vice-chair Gavin Sinclair stood down after six years on the Albyn Housing Society board, with Douglas acknowledging his welcome contribution to shaping the business and its governance. The board now plans to recruit two new tenant members and an additional member with an appropriate business background.