Affordable housing

Centini houses in FindhornThe provision of affordable housing that is eco-friendly has long been a concern within our community. There is also much interest in co-housing, and in co-operative ownership models.

In common with many rural areas of Scotland the Findhorn peninsula suffers from a significant shortage of affordable housing both to buy and to let.

In 2004, with the assistance of the Rural Housing Service and Development Trusts Association Scotland we conducted a survey of the local area to evaluate the level of housing need.

In 2006 the Ekopia Rules were amended to allow us to become registered as a ‘rural housing body’ with the Scottish Government.

With the further assistance of Co-operative Development Scotland we have also helped to create and turn into practical reality a new model for housing co-operatives, through the following projects:

Duneland

The Duneland site in FindhornFollowing a generous offer from Duneland Ltd. and the excellent fundraising work of the “Park Housing Co-op Project” various opportunities to support community-owned affordable housing have emerged.

These projects also require the formal support of the Moray Council housing department and we are delighted that this has been provided.

In the first phase Duneland made available four housing units at the East Whins cluster – 2 x 2-bedroom flats and 2 x 2-bedroom houses at a market value (averaged) of about £175,000 for both rentals and shared ownership.

This was paid for by:

  • Zero interest loans. Over £100,000 having been secured so far.
  • Grants and donations. We raised over £100,000 for the first 4 units.
  • By arrangement with the Moray Council a “Section 75” agreement worth up to £200,000 was made with Duneland that makes this money  available for community-owned housing.
  • A variable amount of the cost was provided by the occupier of the shared ownership houses.
  • Ekopia arranged interest bearing loan finance to cover the balance.

This was a huge opportunity for the community. Recent figures provided via the Scottish Governments “Neighbourhood Statistics” website show that the Findhorn peninsula is one of only four places in the Highlands and islands where houses in the cheapest quartile are 11 (eleven) or more times higher than average earnings.

This means that without some kind of support system most of our younger members find it all but impossible to get onto the housing ladder. In addition, there is a strong commitment to providing accommodation for older community members in need of palliative care.

Park Ecovillage Trust is the delivery agent for these affordable homes. Having successfully completed this venture at East Whins, we anticipate using a similar system to support subsequent developments on Duneland and ultimately creating a diversity of community-owned property. There is now another opportunity at the adjacent West Whins cluster and we are actively exploring this.

Land & Housing Trust

This has been set up in partnership with other community stakeholders and aims to:

  • Obtain amenity land to be held for collective benefit;
  • Obtain finance to support those in housing need;
  • Own affordable housing that can be rented or held in shared ownership;
  • Provide policies so that allocations of housing support can be undertaken in an open, transparent and inclusive manner according to various agreed criteria.

TheAllocations Policy 2021 (pdf) has the details. This sets the criteria for application for housing support awards that applies to all housing support.

Each cluster of housing has its own Housing Support Policy, which sits under this allocations policy and covers what type of housing support is available.

Housing support opportunities are available from time to time. Please
see community announcements for details:

Silvertrees Housing Support (NOT currently Available)

4 one-bedroom and 4 two-bedroom flats will become available at the Silvertrees housing cluster at The Park, Findhorn. The rent levels are as agreed with the Scottish Rural Housing Fund and are controlled by Moray Council and/or the Scottish Government and the flats are owned and administered by New Findhorn Directions Ltd. (NFD).

Within Silvertrees there are 2 one-bedroom units and 3 two-bedroom units that are offered under a straight forward rental agreement. There are also 2 one-bedroom and 1 two-bedroom flats that offer the opportunity for a Right to Occupy Loan Agreement. Such an agreement provides the tenant with the ability to invest into the property, receive a reduced rent for the period of their tenancy and share in any movement in the Scottish Property index over the period of their tenancy upon repayment of the loan.

https://youtu.be/0Bb1bblRZnA

West Whins Housing Support (NOT currently Available)

East Whins Housing Support (Currently Available)

OPPORTUNITY FOR AFFORDABLE RENTED COMMUNITY CARE FLAT AT EAST WHINS

Flat 503 at East Whins has become available. The rent levels are controlled by Moray Council and the flat is owned and administered by Park Ecovillage Trust (PET). Flat 503 is a Community Care flat and is designated for community members requiring care at home whose present accommodation is unsuitable for the delivery of care. PET intends that people with health or care needs will be given first preference on 503 and only such people should apply.

Located in East Whins, the flat is a ground floor two-bedroom property with an internal floor area of around 70m2. It has good natural lighting, a generously sized kitchen, wet-room with level access shower and is equipped with grab rails throughout. There is also a sunspace and small garden area to the south of the flat. It has a combination of beech flooring, marmoleum and tiles. The oven and hob are supplied with the tenancy and hot water and heating are supplied by an air-source heat pump and solar thermal panels. A mechanical ventilation system ensures energy efficiency and good indoor air quality. The unit is designed to a high eco specification. Historical running costs for electricity average at around £95 per month. East Whins has a communal laundry that is owned and maintained by the East Whins group and is available to the tenant/s.

It would be up to the applicant to assess the floor plans and design to gauge whether the property would be suitable for their particular needs.

PET recognises that for a person with health and/or care needs, over time a situation may arise whereby the tenant is no longer able to engage directly with the landlord in relation to the tenancy and meet the obligations and conditions that go along with that. The landlord has decided that in order to safeguard itself against loss of rent and maintenance & repair costs that a guarantor will be required and the applicant will need to demonstrate that the guarantor is earning at least £18,500 per year. As an additional safeguard for PET the applicant will also need to provide two months deposit to be eligible for the property.

If you are interested and
* Have a chronic life limiting/progressive and/or disabling disease/condition
* are applying as a single person, couple where one or both of the couple have significant medical or care needs or a single parent with one or more children where the parent or one of the children has significant medical or care needs.
* have an annual income less than £24,000 for a single adult household, or less than
£30,500 for a 2 or more adult household.
* can pay rent of £508.87/month
* can cover utilities; indicative £95 per month
* can cover Moray Council Tax Bill; Band B
* have been resident in Moray or Nairn for at least 6 months
* have been a community member for two years.
* Can pay a deposit of two months’ rent
* Have a guarantor who is earning at least £18,500 per year
* and otherwise meet the criteria set out in the Allocations and Housing Support Policies.
* would be able to move in from mid-December

See also: Investment Opportunities

Soillse Cluster

In 2006, with the generous support of Duneland Ltd. we negotiated the purchase of land at a discounted price that has enabled us to provide housing support to members of the Soillse cluster.

Station House

Station HouseIn 2007/2008 we received a grant from Co-operative Development Scotland to assist with the creation of a new model for co-operative housing.

In 2008 this enabled us to form Station House Co-operative Ltd, along with our associate organisation Ecovillage Partners LLP. This was for the purpose of purchasing the historic Station House, a seven unit property in Findhorn village.

The purchase of Station House was completed in November 2008, and the work undertaken has enabled £30,000 to be available to support the provision of low cost rents at this property.

We anticipate further projects using variations on this model coming to fruition in the future.