At a recent meeting of East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet, ambitious plans for affordable housing were set out in three interlocking plans, which ensure our people are at the heart of everything we do.
The three plans combine to realise our vision that – “Everyone in East Ayrshire can afford access to a quality home that meets their needs and aspirations, and is located within a safe and attractive neighbourhood in which they are proud to live.”
The Housing Asset Management Framework (HAMF) ensures that the Council’s housing stock meets the present and future needs of our tenants; that resources are used effectively and efficiently and that resources are maximised for further investment in existing and new stock.
This approach will not only focus on the fabric of our buildings but also on the stability of our neighbourhoods and the framework will inform our strategic approach through the Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) and the Housing Investment Programme (HIP).
The team behind HAMF has developed a matrix, informed by guidance from the Scottish Housing Regulator, which separates our homes into three categories – red, amber and green. Once homes are categorised a cross-service review team, involving services including Legal, the Health and Social Care Partnership and Vibrant Communities, discuss potential solutions.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council said: “Our ambitious house building and improvement programmes are transforming the lives of so many residents in our communities and our Housing Asset Management Framework is a key element of our arrangements. Over the past two years, our teams have been undertaking a thorough review of the Council’s housing stock and implementing a range of actions to ensure that our houses meet the needs of our tenants.
“Our approach has increased the percentage of our properties assessed as performing well, with little or no concerns and we are focused on increasing this even further, by working closely with our communities to support regeneration and put people are at the heart of everything we do.”
In Catrine, Newmilns, Auchinleck and Muirkirk, the Council has been engaging with tenants and residents through information events. All residents were invited and were given the opportunity to provide ideas and discuss different options for streets within their area. These discussions will continue over the coming months to ensure that our residents are involved in the decision making process for their communities and inform any housing management actions.
Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “The Housing Asset Management Framework will ensure that the housing stock being retained is performing well and meets the needs and aspirations of the people we serve. We have interrogated our housing stock and can show robust statistics and information to explain long-term voids. This information helps to shape discussions with our communities on the best way forward for everyone.
“We are focused on future proofing our communities, not just our buildings. It is therefore vitally important that we address void properties as they have a negative effect on our neighbourhoods. This work will be carried out in partnership with local people; we will be carrying out consultations and answering residents’ concerns, every step of the way.”
The Strategic Housing Investment Programme is a five-year rolling plan that is supported by funding from the Scottish Government. It clearly sets out progress to date and future activity of the Council’s ambitious house building programme.
287 new or reconfigured homes have now been completed, including the first development built by our strategic partners, CCG (Scotland) Ltd, in Dalrymple. This award winning development has helped to regenerate Dalrymple and has created a sense of connection between neighbours in the area.
Our strategic partners, CCG are committed to building 152 homes in East Ayrshire and the new build programme will help to increase the supply of specialist housing to meet particular needs. As part of SHIP, the Housing team is working closely with colleagues from the Health and Social Care Partnership to ensure that specialist assisted living facilities, like Cessnock Road in Hurlford, meet the future needs of our residents.
The Housing Investment Programme (HIP) report highlighted the success achieved by the team to date and investment plans for the coming year, which will see work being carried out on 520 properties.
The award winning team has successfully achieved Scottish Housing Quality Standard for all properties, where it was practically possible to achieve the standard and over the next year investment will continue in our properties, ensuring that homes are maintained to a high standard and achieve appropriate standards of energy efficiency to help tackle fuel poverty.
The HIP team will also roll out their innovative approach to working with local communities. This ‘people first, not fabric first’ approach, initially developed in Bellsbank, saw the team develop a strong partnership with the NHS with person centre support being provided to communities in a number of important areas including Pharmacy First, alcohol and drug concerns and the promotion of NHS initiatives to reduce demand on services.
Community activities based around cooking on a budget also took place during the summer thanks to a partnership between the HIP team, main contractor Engie and Centrestage.
Councillor Whitham added: “I am so proud of our HIP team and the wonderful work they have carried out in Bellsbank. They put the community at the heart of everything they did and looked for ways to help community groups, supporting and encouraging positive change in the neighbourhood.
“The team worked with CANI, a mother’s group from Bellsbank, directly supporting the youth club and helping to introduce a dignified food programme, helping those who need it most in a compassionate way. There are now 70 children and young people attending the youth club each week and this has led to a decline in antisocial behaviour.
“This work exemplifies the importance of transformational change, and why we should put people at the heart of everything we do. Each small act of kindness creates a ripple effect that positively impacts on local people and neighbourhoods.”