Warning that North Lanarkshire could lose millions in council house funding

North Lanarkshire Council assistant chief executive Des Murray with Housing convener Allan Graham at the recently built council houses in Oakdene Avene in Tannochside
North Lanarkshire Council assistant chief executive Des Murray with Housing convener Allan Graham at the recently built council houses in Oakdene Avene in Tannochside

An MSP has warned North Lanarkshire could lose out on millions of pounds if the speed of council houses being built is not increased.

Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle has called for greater progress on house building which, in a submission on the Local Development Plan, he described as “disappointing”.

Mr Lyle pointed to figures that showed North Lanarkshire Council received £23m from the Scottish Government towards affordable housing in 2016/17 with that figure set to increase to £24.5m for 2017/18.

He claims the council only built around 65 homes last year; despite potential for around 250 at an average cost of £100,000 per unit.

Mr Lyle has called on a working group to be established to identify potential areas for future house building.

He said: “I am proud that the £1.7bn invested by the Scottish Government has meant high quality, energy efficient, affordable homes have been built the length and breadth of the country.

“However, it is time to call out the lack of housebuilding here in North Lanarkshire. In my submission to the Local Development Plan I’ve made clear my desire for a housebuilding working group to be established that can ensure this investment can be met.

“The First Minister has outlined those local authorities who cannot spend money allocated to build houses will lose it; I don’t want to see investment in North Lanarkshire being lost so I’m calling for action now.”

The council’s assistant chief executive Des Murray assured Mr Lyle every penny of Scottish Government funding is spent.

He said: “North Lanarkshire Council is undertaking one of the biggest local authority new build programmes in Scotland which has already delivered 417 new homes, including 76 in Mr Lyle’s constituency and a further 45 in the planning stage in Bellshill alone.

“This is part of our plans to complete 2,150 new homes over the next decade and are currently on site at 10 different locations with construction of another 235 homes well underway.

“We have consistently ensured North Lanarkshire’s budget for affordable housing is fully spent and I assure Mr Lyle we have plans in place to spend the allocated budget over the next three years.

“I am therefore surprised by Mr Lyle’s comments and would be happy to meet and explain the scale and strategic objectives of both our new build programme and the wider affordable investment programme.”