In the run up to our Place Challenge 2015 event (28-29 October) we asked some of our partners in the event to outline why they think the Place Challenge and the topic of Town Centre Living is important. In the first blog in the lead up to the event Kevin McGowan, Regeneration Strategy Team Leader from the Social Justice and Regeneration Division of the Scottish Government, sets out some of the issues that will be considered at the Place Challenge 2015.
A strong and well-functioning housing system has a vital role to play in supporting the development of a more productive, more cohesive and fairer Scotland. Housing remains a high priority for the Scottish Government, which has made clear its commitment to deliver at least 30,000 affordable homes during the lifetime of this Parliament.
In 2015-2016 we plan to invest around £463 million. Over the current Parliamentary term (2011-2012 to 2015-2016) the Government’s planned spending on affordable housing will therefore be more than £1.7 billion. This investment is delivering a diverse range of housing to meet people’s housing needs.
We recognise that creating more good quality homes in town centres, close to shops and facilities, is an excellent way of bringing life back into town centres, particularly in the evenings and at weekends. A growing residential community also supports local shops and businesses. Most town centres have plenty of under-used or empty property on upper floors or around the edges of the town centre. Conversion to residential use is often the most appropriate long-term use, although it may need financial incentives to make it commercially viable.
We have taken action to promote town centre living in the Town Centre Action Plan. In addition, the co-produced Joint Housing Delivery Plan for Scotland outlines our work with partners to deliver actions to help improve the housing system, including specific actions to help deliver diverse housing projects in town centres. The Place Challenge event provides an opportunity to share our collective experience and build on the learning to date to help unlock housing potential within our town centres.
By Kevin McGowan
The Place Challenge 2015: Town Centre Living event will take place on 28-29 October in Arbroath. Please note that the event is fully booked, but you can keep up to date on Twitter using the hashtag #placechallenge15