Home Delivery: delivering rural housing across Scotland

24 February 2017

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing has outlined his commitment to deliver affordable housing in Scotland at Rural Housing Scotland’s annual conference at Birnam Conference Centre, Perthshire on Friday 24th February 2017.

Entitled Home Delivery: delivering rural housing across Scotland, the conference aims to address infrastructure, land and planning and affordability obstacles.

Alastair Cameron, Convenor of Rural Housing Scotland said:  “The Scottish Government has made a commitment to building 50,000 houses during this parliamentary term and we look forward to hearing how rural communities will receive their fair share of this investment.”

Research from Rural Housing Scotland reveals:

•  House prices have increased faster in rural areas - average rural house prices increased by 85% compared with 70% in urban areas between 2002/12         

•  Rural Scotland has half the level of social housing found in urban areas - just 13.5% of houses in rural Scotland are for social rent       

•  Lack of affordability is most acute in areas of rural Scotland - average house prices in Aberdeenshire  for example are 5.3 times average incomes 

•  There are fewer first time buyers in rural Scotland - just 38% of rural house purchases were by first time buyers compared with 47% in urban areas - in Argyll just a third were first time buyers

•  1 in 8 of all housing in remote rural areas is empty - 7.5% of houses are holiday homes and 5% are empty homes

Alastair Cameron continued:  “The scale of the challenge is considerable with significant  barriers to rural housing delivery. However affordable rural housing is vital to build thriving rural communities and we hope our conference will demonstrate how it can be delivered”.

Debbie Mackay of Savills, who sits on the Rural Housing Scotland Board said: “The RHS conference brings together policy makers, on the ground deliverers and everyone in between, to tackle the key issue effecting our rural communities – the stark lack of homes which people can afford to rent or buy in rural communities. It is our hope that everyone will go away challenged to do things differently”. 

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We know that good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland’s remote and rural communities and also that building affordable housing in rural areas presents different challenges than urban areas. This is why we launched the £25m Rural Housing Fund last February, followed by the new £5m Islands Housing Fund to increase the supply of affordable housing of all tenures in rural Scotland and on our islands. I am pleased we have had a very high level of interest, with the first homes already completed and others on-site.

“Through the Affordable Housing Supply programme  local authority areas across Scotland have been allocated a share of over £406 million in grant subsidy to deliver more affordable homes for 2016-17 – over £100 million more than last year’s allocation. This is the start of our five-year commitment to increasing the supply of affordable homes even further by setting a new target of delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes, including 35,000 homes for social rent.”

The conference also saw Andy Wightman MSP discuss barriers and possible solutions to rural housing development, along with Savills Graham Reid, Head of Development, North of Scotland, and Neil Clapperton, Chief Executive, Grampian Housing Association.

Professor Jim Hunter discussed the debate on “rewilding”, arguing that rural Scotland needs “re-peopling” and that housing policy has to support rural regeneration.  He said: “Alongside wild land, we need ‘people places’, where the landscape and environment is made better by encouraging, not preventing, new rural housing.”  He was joined by Alasdair Stephen from Dualchas Architects who will set out a radical agenda for rural housing and rural development.  He said:  “We know that a generation feels let down by the housing policy in Scotland and that radical action is needed to allow them to live, love and prosper in their own communities”.

The conference also featured a number of workshops including:

Paul Chatterton from LILAC Coop, outlined the development of the UK’s first affordable ecological cohousing project: a community of 20 households and a common house, based in Leeds. LILAC is an affordable straw bale development and is a Mutual Home Ownership Cooperative.

Moray Finch from Mull & Iona Community Trust provided a practical example of re-peopling the small community of Ulva Ferry with the development of two community owned houses for rent.

Most affordable rural housing in England is developed through rural exceptions sites. Sue Chalkley, Chief Executive of Hastoe Housing Association, one of the largest affordable rural housing developers in England, highlighted how they have successfully developed in the countryside and discuss how planning policy in Scotland could secure much more land for affordable housing.

Linsay Chalmers from Community Land Scotland discussed the opportunities for housing of the Land Reform and Community Empowerment Acts.

Michael Chisholm from Highland Small Community Housing Trust presented on the Highland Self Build Loan Fund.


General Enquiries



Key Contacts

Debbie Mackay

Debbie Mackay

Head of Planning, Scotland
Rural, Energy & Projects Division


+44 (0) 1313 440 891


Beth Hocking

Beth Hocking

Regional PR manager (Scotland)
Press Office


+44 (0) 131 247 3739