Kevin Reid: Building mixed tenure communities offers a blueprint for success

Kevin Reid, chief executive of the Cruden Group, reflects on the theme of this year’s Scottish Housing Day, “Housing as a Human Right”.

Kevin Reid

This year’s theme of Housing as a Human Right for Scottish Housing Day is an important and powerful one. Homes should absolutely be a place to provide safety and shelter. But a home is so much more than that. A home is a place for family and community to come together and connect, giving people a real sense of belonging.

Scotland, like the rest of the UK is suffering from a chronic undersupply of housing and while the Scottish Government is making more than £3bn available to local authorities and housing associations to support the delivery of 50,000 affordable homes by 2021, with increasing financial pressures and budget cuts, the level of investment beyond 2021 is an unknown factor.

One thing that is absolutely certain is the enormous level of demand that we are seeing for mixed tenure housing developments on regenerated sites, particularly those close to city centre locations.

At Cruden, we were very proud to be part of City Legacy, the developers of the Athletes’ Village for Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games. This landmark build really did set the blueprint for community-led housing developments in regeneration areas. Comprising 700 new homes in Dalmarnock – a mixture of private, affordable and mid-market rental, the Athletes’ Village, positioned just a few miles from Glasgow city centre, really did break the mould and saw unprecedented levels of demand, with the entire development being sold a staggering two years ahead of schedule.

Now, we are seeing that same surge in demand at our current regeneration developments located near city centres spanning the east to the west of the country. In Edinburgh, our Vision development, which sits in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat in the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh, has already completely sold out over a year ahead of schedule. This mixed tenure development of 149 houses and flats has been an enormous success story. All of the homes here are priced under £200,000, therefore all under the Help to Buy threshold. It offers close proximity to the city centre and importantly family living with a real sense of community.

In the west, our King’s View development tells the same story. Positioned just two miles from Glasgow city centre, King’s View is one of Glasgow’s eight Transformational Regeneration Areas (TRAs) and is a partnership between Cruden, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association and the Scottish Government. Again, King’s View is made up of new homes for private sale, mid-market rent and social rent, 375 in total. Demand is strong for our 3rd phase, with only a 4th phase remaining for future development.

There are many common threads that weave through all of these developments. The first is the very nature of their ‘tenure blind’ design, so that there is no way of telling which market each property is for.

The second is affordability, either to buy or rent, providing accommodation to people that are integral to local communities. We have found that it’s emergency service workers, teachers, and NHS staff who are attracted to these homes. Key workers previously struggled to get on the housing ladder, but these affordable developments are now allowing them to move into their own property.

Lastly, it is important to recognise the location of these developments which are all close to city centres. This means that residents living here have good access to employment options, health care services, schools and childcare, and other social and community facilities. So, the home really is the foundation for improving people’s quality of life, and can be life-changing.

Equally importantly, we’ve worked collaboratively throughout with housing associations and local authorities to take an equal role in the decision-making and making the most of our complementary strengths.

Housing associations and local authorities have an undeniable wealth of expertise and understanding of placemaking, neighbourhood development and managing the development throughout its lifetime. Meanwhile Cruden bring not only an expertise in building innovation, site assembly, infrastructure and commercial sales, but our strong heritage in successful regeneration projects has allowed us to build thriving new communities across Scotland and to ensure that we leave a lasting legacy. By providing apprenticeships, training and employment for the community, providing support and donations to community projects through our Cruden Foundation, and recruiting local sub-contractors, we are also making a substantial boost to the local economy.

It’s a compelling combination that is seeing huge success across the country. Scotland needs more homes, people need to feel a sense of community and housing is very much a human right. Building mixed tenure developments on regeneration sites is a proven winning formula and one that I hope that we continue to build on throughout the nation for decades to come.

  • Kevin Reid is chief executive of the Cruden Group.

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