COULD new homes be built on the former home of East Dunbartonshire Council – Tom Johnston House in Kirkintilloch?
That’s the question being asked by Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Fiona McLeod, who is also suggesting that other pockets of ‘brownfield’ land be assessed for housing.
It follows the launch of a new campaign by charity Shelter Scotland, which wants to make Scotland’s private rented sector fairer for all.
‘Rethink Renting’ is calling for an end to the short-term renting cycle which sees tenants forced onto short-term tenancy agreements – often as short as six months.
Shelter Scotland claims many people cannot afford their own home in East Dunbartonshire, with 4,339 households on the council waiting list.
The charity says an increasing number of families are forced into the private rented sector for long-term housing needs. An estimated 2,000 households rent privately in East Dunbartonshire.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Short-term tenancy agreements do not provide the stability and security individuals and, in particular, young families in East Dunbartonshire need in order to live a settled life and bring up children.
“Too often we hear of people being moved on, evicted or rents increased unreasonably, forcing people into the destructive and unsettling cycle of having to move house – every six months in some cases – preventing them from ever being able to put down strong roots or build a stable environment in which to live.
“Often, children’s education can suffer as a result of frequent moves to other schools.
“We want to build a private rented sector that is fit for families and individuals and protects all tenants – a sector that provides long-term homes not short-term housing.”
Mr Brown added: “The benefits would not just be felt by tenants. Landlords too would see a more constant and predictable income, with less downtime between rents and happier, more stable relationships with their tenants.”
Shelter Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to bring in reforms.
Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Fiona McLeod said: “John Swinney MSP, Finance Minister, recently announced a further £38m for house building in Scotland in the Scottish Government’s budget, which the local council can apply to.
“We are in a difficult situation locally with limited land supply and more than 4,000 people on the council’s housing list – we have to make the best use of the land we have.
“I see Tom Johnston House lying empty on a generous-sized site, as well as other pockets of brownfield land which must be assessed for affordable housing use before any other use is considered.
“There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution for all Scotland’s housing problems, but the Scottish Government is doing what it can within its limited powers to help families in these difficult financial times.”
The council is currently working on the sale of Tom Johnston House.
The local authority relocated its HQ to Southbank Marina in August last year, in a move that is expected to save around £350,000 a year.
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