NEWCASTLETON HOUSING NEEDS STUDY 2016

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In response to a proposal to consider housing as part of the proposed upgrade to Buccleuch House the Club Community Trust – Buccleuch House asked Rural Housing Scotland to undertake a housing needs study for the village.  Fieldwork was carried out in Oct 2015.  385 households received a questionnaire, 84 responded (22%) which is considered average for this type of analysis.

The findings are summarised below:

The village population is aged with 37% aged 60+ versus a Borders average of 29%. There are marked increases in the older groupings since 2001. The village has seen small declines in young people (13.5% in 2001 to 13% in 2011) but a greater drop in its young people of 13% to 11% respectively.

  • Over 41% of all households in the village consist of single people (Borders average of 35%)
  • 25% of all households are aged 65+
  • 18% contain dependent children
  • A further 23% are couples with no dependent children.
  • 25% of the population are retired with a further 10% economically inactive.
  • Main areas of employment are retail, care and construction with higher than average levels of skilled trades, lower level sin professional occupations.

There are 92 social rented properties in the village, including 12 amenity houses and 4 sheltered houses for elderly residents.  Number of bids for vacant properties is low averaging 6 compared to other areas within the Borders where the average is 13 bids.

Average house price in the village was £114k calculated across the 13 properties sold in 2015, this compares to £174k as a Borders average.  Langholm average £106k and Hawick £125k.  Currently 9 houses for sale ranging from £75k to £210k.

HOUSING NEED

Of the 84 responses, 6 households indicated that they had a housing need. This represents 7% of respondents or 1.6% of all households in the village. The households in housing need comprised 4 single households, 1 couple & 1 family. Three of the single households were aged 60+ including one aged 75+, whilst one single household was aged 45+. Both members of the couple in housing need were aged 60+, whilst the family household comprised 2 people with one an elderly relative requiring their own home.  The majority of the limited housing need in the village comes from its elderly residents.

OTHER VIEWS

  • 31% stated that Newcastleton had no need for further affordable housing because there was already enough social housing and limited demand.
  • A further 17%, whilst agreeing that no further affordable housing was required, also stated that more low cost home ownership was required but not social housing.
  • 49% agreed that more affordable housing was required – over half 22 of these thought that housing for elderly people was required.
  • 30% wanted to see more low cost houses for sale
  • 14% wanted to see more social rented houses built and only 3 respondents felt there was a need for housing for young people.

CONCLUSIONS

The housing need evidenced by the survey is amongst the older population of the village seeking to move to smaller and more affordable rented housing. Many commented that traditional housing was expensive to maintain and too large for their current needs.

Anecdotal feedback from the community had suggested that there was an unreported housing need from young people in the village for affordable home ownership. However, the survey did not highlight this and just three respondents to the survey felt that housing for young people was required in the village.  The limited demand for the regular social housing re-lets suggests that this tenure of housing is not difficult to access.

The low price of many of the house sales in the village suggests that there are also low cost home ownership opportunities available. Half of the house sales in the village were at or below the Scottish Government Open Market Shared Equity threshold price of £85,000 for a 1-bedroom property. 3 were sold for below £65,000. In total 10 of the 13 were sold for prices below the threshold price for a 3-bedroom property in the Scottish Borders.

Notwithstanding the limited demand for housing revealed by the survey, Newcastleton does need to address the migration of younger people from the village and the growing number of older people in the area.

The community also point to an issue with the number of empty properties in the village both for sale and not having been put on the market – highlighting that these properties are becoming a blight on the village and could offer starter homes for young people.  The issue appears to be that young people and families do not have sufficient income to buy and renovate the properties for sale.

There would appear to be two routes to tackle the problem of empty homes:

  1. help owners to improve their houses for sale which could then be sold on at affordable rates; this could be achieved by using funds from the Scottish Borders Empty Homes Loan Fund to enable owners to renovate the houses for sale.
  1. help young families buy the empty properties (and renovate them); this could be achieved by young families using the Open Market Shared Equity scheme to buy the empty homes either before or after they are renovated. The Open Market Shared Equity Scheme allows people on low to moderate incomes to buy homes that are for sale on the open market where it is affordable for them to do so. The scheme is currently open to help all first time buyers.

NEXT STEPS

The Trustees see the way forward as follows:

  • To provide information about the open market scheme for first time buyers and the empty houses scheme for owners and buyers.
  • Ask Link, who manage the scheme, to include remote rurality in the scheme via rural Housing Network.
  • Encourage local lawyers and estate agents to inform buyers.
  • To share the survey findings with SBC and the housing associations.
  • Clarify with housing associations what their social housing policy is and whether local people have priority.
  • Invite local housing associations to a meeting.
  • Make people aware that the Welfare Benefits Department and the CAB can advise people on low income about home improvement -boilers, insulation etc. Via the Community Council?
  • Share findings of the report locally.

The Trustees will follow through on the above and report back to the community once advance have been made.