A major step has been taken to tackle Shetland’s housing shortage thanks to a windfall for Hjaltland Housing Association from the Scottish government.
Hjaltland will receive over £1.2 million to help build 24 homes in a major Tingwall scheme, and a further eight units it has planned for Brae.
Until now funding from the government has not been forthcoming thanks to the gloomy economic climate, but that all changed when yesterday’s announcement came through.
The news comes a week after the final instalment of a £600,000-plus government investment to help build 15 flats at Lerwick’s North Star site.
The association had believed this week’s funding pledge would not amount to much in comparison. In truth, it is effectively double the North Star site allocation.
Hjaltland’s Brian Leask said he was delighted with the news. “We got about £1.2 million for Strand in Tingwall, and £340,000 for Ladies Mire in Brae, and that’s on top of the £620,000 they gave us previously for North Star.
“Last week they did say there would be a second tranche of money coming through. We didn’t think it would amount to much. But the second tranche of money is more than the first tranche.”
As well as helping to cut Shetland’s lengthy waiting lists for rented accommodation, the investment also represents good news for the local construction industry.
“In the past we’ve been putting through 60 to 70 units a year,” Mr Leask said. “I think the Shetland construction industry has been relying on that, so another three schemes to be allocated is good news for us and the construction industry.”
The grants have been paid out from the government’s innovation and investment fund. Housing minister Keith Brown said: “Despite the draconian cuts in capital spending imposed by the UK government, we have shown that investment in new affordable housing can boost the economy through the direct impact on construction and related jobs.”