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Aberdeen pushes ahead with largest council house programme in 50 years

The biggest council housebuilding programme in Aberdeen in more than half a century has taken another major step forward as plans progressed for 283 new homes.

First Endeavour LLP is set to deliver the housing units at Wellheads Road in Dyce after entering an agreement with Aberdeen City Council.

The site was marketed at a Developers’ Day held by the council last year to encourage the private sector to come forward with housing provision.

Council co-leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “We are delighted to announce that we are partnering with First Endeavour LLP to provide nearly 300 council homes.

“As a council, we are committed to finding innovative ways to deliver both services and new infrastructure, including an additional 2,000 council homes.

“We are working with landowners and developers to provide much-needed local authority housing.”

Fellow council co-leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden said: “Our new-build programme is gathering momentum with a number of projects under way or about to start.

“This isn’t just about building housing – it’s about building communities and opportunities and ensuring that our city continues to prosper in an inclusive way.”

A First Endeavour LLP spokesperson said: “First Endeavour are delighted to be working with Aberdeen City Council to be building much-needed council homes in Dyce.

“These homes will be built to the highest standards to meet the needs of council tenants, including those with a disability.”

Last year 99 council homes were built at Smithfield, 80 are nearing completion at Manor Walk, 369 are earmarked for the former Summerhill Academy site, and there are plans for more new homes at Tillydrone, Kincorth, Craighill and Greenferns.

Project and programme consultancy Faithful+Gould has been appointed to help hit the target of 2,000 additional council homes across the city.

Stewart Ferguson, regional director of SNC Lavalin’s Faithful+Gould business, said: “Building upon our long-term relationship with Aberdeen City Council, we are delighted to be leading one of the most high-profile and ambitious housing programmes in a generation.

“The council’s innovative approach is based upon the ‘Building in Quality’ methodology and will positively contribute to Aberdeen’s social housing offer and the city’s prosperity.”

Source: Scottish Housing News

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Build-to-rent holds promise for long-term investment

The housing crisis is a hot topic not just in the property industry but across society as a whole. A report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said that the UK government needed to boost its homebuilding target by 50% to create 300,000 new homes each year to tackle the housing crisis.

But while we all agree more homes are needed, what form they should take is less clear.

Market dynamics in particular locations will dictate what is appropriate, but we also need to consider more fundamental shifts in demand. As people live longer, a range of options tailored to older people becomes increasingly important, as does allowing family homes to be freed up.

With more people living alone, options that suit single people’s lifestyles and budgets are vital and as the millennial generation chooses a more transient lifestyle and prioritises experience over ownership, high-quality homes for private rental are also key.

Figures from the English Housing Survey last year found that almost half of 25- to 34-year-olds live in the private rented sector, up from less than a quarter in 2006. The proportion of families living in rented accommodation has also grown. Knight Frank estimates that by 2021, nearly one in four households in England will be renting.

A major contributing factor to the increase in renting is the difficulty of getting on to the property ladder. The Office for National Statistics said in April that the house-price-to-earnings ratio in the UK had hit 7.77, the highest in the official time series going back to 2002. Meanwhile, rising student debt and a preference for living in urban locations make buying a first property even more of a financial struggle.

However, it would be wrong to assume renting has become popular purely because of the difficulty of buying. Knight Frank’s research found that 21% of renters rent to be able to live in a better area; 8% do not want the responsibility of owning a home; 6% need flexibility for work; 6% are downsizers; and 5% do not want to be stuck in one location.

For too long, renting has been seen as a last resort. But renting has moved on and is no longer the murky world of damp-ridden HMOs that many in the baby-boomer generation may have experienced in their 20s.

For many younger people – some of whom will have been used to living in modern purpose-built student accommodation during their time at university – living in a build-to-rent (BTR) property, with a strong amenity offer and a focus on service, is a natural next step that fits their requirements.

“For many younger people living in a BTR property is a natural next step that fits their requirements [after university]”

The millennial generation, after all, is less focused on the long term. Traditional mortgage lenders have not yet adequately recognised the rise in freelancing and the gig economy and the ability to move anywhere around the world at short notice is worth more to many young professionals than the prospect of home ownership.

BTR shifts the focus for the homebuilding industry, which has traditionally concentrated on short-term capital values rather than long-term stable income. Developers need to adapt and recognise that real estate is increasingly about service as much as product: more than ever before, we need to understand the customer and their changing priorities.

Successful BTR schemes will combine a single-operator management structure with high-quality, sustainable, flexible building design to attract and retain tenants while offering them lease lengths to suit varying circumstances.

Source: Property Week