NEARLY 2000 social housing homes could be built in North Lanarkshire, according to ambitious plans agreed by councillors. 

Members of the local authority’s housing and regeneration committee endorsed proposals to back major developments between now and 2026, including on the former site of St Columba’s School in Coatbridge and Gowkthrapple in Wishaw.

Numerous homes are also to be constructed as part of the council’s plans for town centre regeneration across North Lanarkshire. 

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The former Orrs department store in Airdrie, Bank Street in Coatbridge, and the former YMCA building in Motherwell are among the key sites to be earmarked for homes.

The council is also running the largest “buy back” scheme in Scotland, which seeks to purchase former council properties from private ownership and return them to social rent. 

Since 2010, 100 homes have been obtained, including several at Ravenscraig.

Connectivity is also an important aspect of the plans, with the council pledging that by 2023 “enabling technologies” will be included as standard in new homes. 

A pilot scheme will be implemented at the Kerr Grieve Court retirement complex in Motherwell.

Climate change and fuel poverty are also shaping strategy, with the council having previously pledged to be net zero for carbon emissions by 2030 and also to also significantly reduce the number of residents currently living in fuel poverty – believed to presently be as high as one third of the social housing sector which also has carbon emissions almost twice as high as the UK average.

During the meeting, councillor Alan Valentine asked about proposals to dispose of void properties and the present levels of energy efficiency in North Lanarkshire homes. 

Those which do not meet the minimum standard cannot be rented out.

A further, stricter energy efficiency standard requires that by 2032 homes attain even better levels of energy efficiency – currently only around four per cent of existing council homes meet this standard and it is thought that almost half are unable to attain it.

A council officer clarified the council would be unable to re-let houses which were below the required energy efficiency minimum but existing tenants would be able to remain in those properties.

Councillor Tommy Morgan said that recent Scottish Government announcements may have “kicked the legs out” from the plan as £280 million had been cut from Scotland’s social housing budget.

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“There’s clearly no priority here for social housing or it has slipped down the list,” he added, before asking if the plan was workable given recent developments.

Head of planning and regeneration Pamela Humphries said that the Scottish budget remained at around £3.4 billion, roughly in line with previous years, but costs were increasing and talks with the Scottish Government were continuing, but confidence remained that the targets in the plan would be met.