About the group:
The UCT Housing Working Group was first established in December 2020 at a time when UCT was examining possible affordable housing options connected with a community buyout of part of Lael Forest led by Lochbroom Community Renewables (LCR). The group very soon widened its focus to look at any and all affordable housing matters within the Lochbroom Community Council area. The urgency of making progress on this issue was reinforced by the results of the community survey carried out by UCT in 2021. This found that just under 80% of respondents regarded affordable housing as their 1st or 2nd priority.. In addition, nearly 90% of the people who completed the survey regarded housing as an area ‘with room for improvement’.
The aim of the group is therefore to collect information and data on the current housing situation in Lochbroom, explore potential paths for action and seek to work with the community, landowners, local and Scottish government and other stakeholders in the housing space (such as the Communities Housing Trust and housing associations).
Projects (partially) completed:
• Housing Needs Survey: the group commissioned (through the UCT Board) the Communities Housing Trust to carry out a survey of needs, attitudes and priorities towards housing in the Community Council area. Part of the funding came from the Community Benefit Fund. The survey was conducted between February and April 2022, with extensive publicity organised by the housing group on local Facebook, and the Ullapool News. Response levels were bolstered by a concerted campaign to ensure those ‘less online’ received paper copies of the survey – especially in outlying areas such as Dundonnell. We anticipate releasing the final version of the report on the results of the survey by the end of September 2022. This will summarise the main findings, show the greatest areas of need in terms of types of housing, locations and the kinds of people (age group, current accommodation status etc) who most urgently need help with housing.
Once we have the completed housing needs survey report, we propose drawing up an outline action plan to tackle the housing crisis in our area. We also intend to carry out an audit of the housing stock in Ullapool before Christmas 2022, with the objective of identifying any suitable vacant or dilapidated properties or otherwise suitable sites within the village where we could explore the feasibility of future affordable housing at these locations. This would be carried out where appropriate in conjunction with Highland Council’s Empty Homes Officer. If resources permit, we would like to extend this project to Braes and Dundonnell. Equipped with the data and results from the housing needs survey, we will be in a stronger position to talk to housing stakeholders about possible affordable housing projects in the Lochbroom Community Council area. We would hope to start looking at specific sites within the next six-eight months.
We are always keen to have new members join the group. If you care about the ability of everybody in the community to find somewhere decent to live, and have time to participate in developing a plan of action to address this crisis, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or drop into the New Broom and speak to one of the team to let them know of your interest.