Defining Westray’s Housing Needs

Westray Development Trust has for some time been looking into housing need on Westray. This work included engaging with the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust which sent a representative to the island during regatta weekend 2016 to carry out consultation with the community. The results of this work suggested that there is some need for housing on the island and we used this to look at some development options.

However, before the Trust proceeds with the purchase of any properties or land, it needs to get the definitive answer on the actual demand and type of property requirement. Therefore, we have devised a short questionnaire which is available online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MKVG89Q , via links on the Westray Facebook page or in paper form from the office if you’d prefer. The survey results will give us the information we need in order to make a decision on whether to proceed or not.

We thought it would be helpful to explain what we consider to be a housing need. We would suggest that a housing need is anyone who may already be housed but who also has a desire to move out of their current home for any number of reasons. These reasons could include, but not limited to:

  • A young person or couple wanting to move out of the family home or set up their first home together
  • An older person or couple who want to downsize to a more manageable, adaptable home
  • A person currently living in sub-standard accommodation
  • A person or family wanting to move back to Westray but is struggling to find suitable accommodation
  • A family wanting to move into a larger home

We would be very grateful if you could take the time to complete this questionnaire and/or pass it on to anyone that you know might have a housing need now (or in future) including family members and friends who currently live elsewhere but would be looking to move to Westray. Please be assured that your answers will be treated with strictest confidence and any public access to the answers will be limited to collective, anonymous results.

We recognise that everyone’s need will vary and therefore if you wish to speak to the Trust in regards to your own, individual requirement for housing, please get in touch to make an appointment. We are contactable:

9am until 4pm, Monday to Friday on 01857 677858;

Or through email: general enquiries to admin@westraydevelopmenttrust.co.uk or direct to Andy, Operations Manager on andy@westraydevelopmenttrust.co.uk;

Or drop in to the office at Quarry Road during office hours;

Or send us a message on Facebook/Messenger – https://www.facebook.com/westray.developmenttrust.5

We would be delighted if you could provide us with your responses before 5pm on 23rd February so that we can review the responses and make a decision at the next Board meeting (6th March) on if/how to proceed with the project. If you need more information please get in touch as above.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Housing Project

Shane Scott, the architect working with the Trust will be visiting Westray on Wednesday 20th December and will be available for a discussion from 10-5 in the Hofn. If you have an interest in the housing project, then please drop in at any time. If you would prefer a private meeting with Shane or the Trust, please let us know.

Westray Housing Needs

The Trust is continuing to explore the Housing Need of Westray and at present we area inviting tenders to assess two potential plots of land and a vacant property for their development suitability. The costs of this tender will form part of an application to the Island Housing Fund and if successful will lead on to a full application for development assistance.

If you have a housing need, or perhaps can predict one in the near future please contact the Trust office on 01857 677858

Westray Housing Needs

Over the last two years The Trust has been working with Orkney Islands Council, Orkney Housing Association Ltd and the Islands Small Communities Housing Trust to consider what Westray’s housing needs are now and, what could the future need look like.

In summary The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust was commissioned to provide a detailed study into the opportunities available to help to progress the aims and objectives of the Westray Development Trust. The report provides an overview of the development opportunities for land, commercial properties and for housing. Detailed consideration was given to the most suitable sites, and the main findings from a series of community consultation exercises was explored. The report also investigated potential partnerships and examples of funding mechanisms to aid the delivery of the most viable projects identified. Part of the process was to discuss potential site with the Orkney Isles Council’s Planning Department. They provided some general advice as each planning application would be considered in its own merit.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

THE RURAL HOUSING FUND & ISLAND HOUSING FUND –  The Rural Housing Fund is a £25m fund launched by the Scottish Government in April 2016, with a further £5m specifically earmarked for island communities, The Islands Housing Fund, announced in September 2016. The aim is to support development in rural areas by making grants and loan funding available to viable rural and island housing developments.

SCOTTISH LAND FUND – The Scottish Land Fund is designed to allow communities across the whole of Scotland, the opportunities to enable communities throughout rural and urban Scotland to purchase land and buildings to create independent, resilient communities. Community groups can apply for assistance with projects from £10,000 to £1m.

COMMUNITY SHARES – Community Shares can part fund development costs, where shares are offered to members of the community in order to raise the required finance for development.

CROSS-SUBSIDY  – Where we define cross-subsidy we take this to mean the sale of an asset or part of an asset to provide funding to support the delivery of an objective which requires additional funding support.

PARTNERSHIPS – Securing partnerships can be essential to delivering a project. Some examples which are relevant and can be replicated in Westray and where partnership working has played a key role in making projects viable are as follows:

RURAL HOUSING BURDEN – The Rural Housing Burden is a mechanism used to protect the long-term affordability of homes for sale.

LONG LEASE – The Housing (Scotland) Act was amended by The Scottish Parliament to allow Rural Housing Bodies to create leases of 21 years or more. This enables private lending to be available to projects involving leases which can be of benefit to many community led projects.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT’S INFRASTRUCTURE FUND – A new fund of up to £50 m is available in 2016/2017 to assist with projects across Scotland to help the government to reach its target of 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY – e.g. community benefit funds or income from renewable energy schemes. As Westray Renewable Energy Ltd is a trading subsidiary of the Westray Development Trust, there may be some potential to invest in some community projects which include housing or commercial opportunities.

LOW COST HOME OWNERSHIP – LIFT SCHEME. Eligible applicants are able to purchase between 60% – 80% of the property price, depending on their individual financial situations.

LOW COST HOME OWNERSHIP – SHARED EQUITY Shared equity homes can be provided separately from the LIFT scheme by a community group or developer.

OPEN MARKET HOUSING –  With agreement from the landowner it may be appropriate to sell part of a development site at the full open market value.

SELF-BUILD The term “self-build” is widely used, although we include this to mean people who employ a builder to build their home from beginning to end.

CO-HOUSING –  Co-housing can be a way to achieve lowimpact living, affordability and a sense of community in a project KEY WORKER HOUSING Key worker housing is mainly used to describe homes that are rented to people who are working in the area from a range of professions, on a short-term basis.

REFURBISHMENT OF EMPTY PROPERTIES – Refurbishing properties can be a good way of returning existing housing stock back into use, although it is important to recognise that all properties are not suited to being refurbished and then providing an affordable property.

SPECIAL NEEDS HOUSING Suitable housing can be driven by the needs of a particular family with particular care requirements, or with mobility issues for example.

HOUSING SUITABLE FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE –  Housing for varying needs building standards provides housing suitable for elderly people.

WESTRAY COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT In order to gain the maximum contact with local people to engage with, HSCHT attended the annual Westray Regatta and the Island Picnic on 30th and 31st July 2016. Seven people responded to a short face to face questionnaire

CONCLUSIONS OF THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT REGARDING HOUSING OPTIONS: The discussions with members of the community who attended the Island Picnic were helpful to determine the types, tenures and timescale of the housing required by local people over the next few years. The main preference to satisfy the housing aspirations was for self-build. Unfortunately, without access to land or to available finance this method of providing housing can be difficult to achieve. Therefore, if support mechanisms were available to assist the community then this may be achievable for some families. Rented housing and purchasing on the open market were the next preferred options with rented housing being more attractive to those who are new to the island, setting-up new households or thinking about returning.

The full report developed by Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust can be found at HSCHT 2016 Report and the Council’s report at 2015.06.05 Westray Housing report.

The Trust is planning an open meeting to discuss their plans in the near future, details of which will be displayed in the shop windows and social media sites shortly.

Housing Needs Assessment Update

The Housing Needs Assessment tendering process is about to commence on the 12th February. With partial funding and support from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise we aim to develop a broader understanding of the housing needs of Westray now and also into the future.

We intend to use this information, should a need be identified, to apply to the Scottish Land Fund for grant assistance to purchase the land and assist with any early development costs.

The full briefing paper can be found by following this link, Westray Housing Project Consultation Brief but you will find a summary below.

To compliment this study, the board has asked Andy to attend the Rural Housing Scotland conference, which is being held in Dunkeld in February 2016.

The Purpose of the Housing Needs Brief is…..

To fully appreciate all aspects of the island’s social and financial economy and how best to support this with a housing development agenda, the Trustees require a strategic study of:

  • Knowledge of the current and future staffing needs of the major commercial operators, service providers and authorities on the island in the form of testimonials.
  • An understanding of the potential to develop partnerships with the commercial operators, service & utility providers and authorities.
  • Knowledge of structured housing development options, such as Rural Housing Bodies.
  • Identification of the available land plots and access to services of each plot
  • Knowledge of the potential capital and revenue funding opportunities to purchase land and develop housing and/or commercial units.
  • An understanding of the community’s expectations and attitude towards housing and housing development
  • A housing valuations study, incorporating local, Orkney wide and national valuations
  • The potential to link in with any of the other projects and initiatives currently being developed by the Trust.
  • Knowledge of a range of available exit strategies
  • Identify potential partners (such as Local Authority, Housing Association or other Registered Social Landlord) to manage the lettings/maintenance/sales, and the costs of this.

This work will identify opportunities for the Trust to participate in housing provision, and inform the Trustees with regard to next steps.  This might include submitting funding applications for land/asset purchase (such as the Scottish Land Fund) and capital development (such as the forthcoming Scottish Government Rural Housing Initiative).

Key skills we are looking for in the consultant are….

In order to gather this intelligence, the following required skills and experience will be required:

  • Preparation of business plans to inform decision making and to be used in support of funding applications
  • Working with community organisations involved in owning and managing domestic and commercial assets
  • Working with community organisations involved in owning and developing a housing project
  • Proven effective communication with volunteers in community organisations and with the wider community
  • Knowledge of funding schemes and initiatives beneficial to both developer and purchaser
  • Knowledge of the Community Empowerment Bill and Land Reform Act

Their key Tasks will be…….

In order to  present a robust business case for funding bids for land/asset purchase, and go on to develop a range of domestic and commercial properties, on Westray, the following key outputs are required. Where possible, the maximum use of local workforce/materials and use of sustainable systems/products, etc are to be considered.

  • A report of the land availability, currently marketed or otherwise
  • An options appraisal for each area of identified land, detailing the potential of developing a range of both domestic and commercial properties
  • A report of funding opportunities for; land purchase, domestic and commercial property development and revenue costs of developing these.
  • An appraisal of the current and future employment needs of the main employment providers and their attitude towards supporting a housing project.
  • A comparative study of the current market values of a broad range of commercial and domestic properties on Westray, in Orkney and National
  • The delivery of and a report of community engagement exercises, exploring local people’s attitudes towards a housing development project
  • A report, including running costs, of organisations with the ability to manage the lettings and maintenance of the domestic and commercial properties
  • An exploration of emerging opportunities to link with any local and national projects, maximising the benefit of developing housing and commercial properties.
  • Identification of areas of land where the potential exists to use legislation to transfer ownership, for the purposes of building development, to the community.

If you have any questions about any aspect of this project, please contact the Trust staff team on (01857) 677858

Housing Needs Assessment

In partnership with the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Westray Development Trust is developing a study that will provide the board with sufficient information on which to base any thoughts on housing development.

If you have any questions about this project, please do not hesitate to contact Andy on 01857 677858.

Subject to the funding being approved the following brief will form an Invitation to Tender:

Westray Housing Project Consultation Brief

Background

The island of Westray is situated approximately 18 miles North of the main island of Orkney (“The Mainland”). The current population of 588 (Census 2011) is mainly concentrated with the boundaries of Pierowall village.

Westray Development Group formed in 1998 and within 4 years became Westray Development Trust (the Trust) and subsequently registered as a Scottish Charity and Company Listed by Guarantee. Together with its wholly owned trading subsidiary, Westray Renewable Energy Ltd, the group’s vision is to develop the economic, social and cultural sustainability of our community by harnessing the quality of our resources, people and island environment. The Trust has a board of between 6-15 volunteer trustees who represent a growing membership, currently standing at approx. 140.

The charitable objectives of the Trust include provisions to regenerate the community of Westray by the maintenance or improvement of the physical, social and economic infrastructure whilst also providing housing for those in necessitous circumstances.  It is also a priority to address depopulation which has seen a drop of just over 1000 residents in 100 years / improved quality of life / attract young people & families to live and work on the island?

Westray is a versatile island that has a high degree of intradependence, necessitated by historically poor transportation links with The Mainland. This has left a legacy of being able to “get things done” and high levels of commercial activity. The two main industries of agriculture and aquaculture dominate the island and the success of which the community depends. Currently one of the major employers has plans to expand their business and double the workforce however, there are some concerns as to where the new employees will be recruited from and where they will live.

At the time of writing there are 9 houses for sale on the island ranging from a traditional stone built, two bedroom property that lacks insulation and heating systems, listed as offers in excess of £45,000 to a five bedroom house, currently used as a guest house, listed as offers in excess of £220,000. There is very little movement in the property market with the most recent purchase seeing a retiring couple move to the island.  The Trust wishes to explore opportunities to improve housing provision on the island and thus to stimulate socio-economic growth.

A recent study, conducted in partnership with the Local Authority and Housing Association concluded that “Although there was not a large numerical response it is clear that Westray is generally well positioned in terms of social rented housing provision, but that some local households, many of them younger people looking for their first home, would benefit from some assistance towards the development of self-build properties or off the shelf purchase in the private market.

The Council will continue to investigate the potential for assistance with self-build projects and finance, as well as any other schemes that may be launched nationally. We will continue to work alongside The Westray Development Trust offering support and advice on any future housing related issues or developments” (Orkney Islands Council, 2015 “Westray housing needs survey”) In isolation, this report is not enough to inform the Trustees of all the options and considerations that are needed in order to fully realise our stated vision.

Purpose of the Contract

To fully appreciate all aspects of the island’s social and financial economy and how best to support this with a housing development agenda, the Trustees require a strategic study of:

  • Knowledge of the current and future staffing needs of the major commercial operators, service providers and authorities on the island in the form of testimonials.
  • An understanding of the potential to develop partnerships with the commercial operators, service & utility providers and authorities.
  • Knowledge of structured housing development options, such as Rural Housing Bodies.
  • Identification of the available land plots and access to services of each plot
  • Knowledge of the potential capital and revenue funding opportunities to purchase land and develop housing and/or commercial units.
  • An understanding of the community’s expectations and attitude towards housing and housing development
  • A housing valuations study, incorporating local, Orkney wide and national valuations
  • The potential to link in with any of the other projects and initiatives currently being developed by the Trust.
  • Knowledge of a range of available exit strategies
  • Identify potential partners (such as Local Authority, Housing Association or other Registered Social Landlord) to manage the lettings/maintenance/sales, and the costs of this.

This work will identify opportunities for the Trust to participate in housing provision, and inform the Trustees with regard to next steps.  This might include submitting funding applications for land/asset purchase (such as the Scottish Land Fund) and capital development (such as the forthcoming Scottish Government Rural Housing Initiative).

Key Skills

In order to gather this intelligence, the following required skills and experience will be required:

  • Preparation of business plans to inform decision making and to be used in support of funding applications
  • Working with community organisations involved in owning and managing domestic and commercial assets
  • Working with community organisations involved in owning and developing a housing project
  • Proven effective communication with volunteers in community organisations and with the wider community
  • Knowledge of funding schemes and initiatives beneficial to both developer and purchaser
  • Knowledge of the Community Empowerment Bill and Land Reform Act

Key Tasks

In order to  present a robust business case for funding bids for land/asset purchase, and go on to develop a range of domestic and commercial properties, on Westray, the following key outputs are required. Where possible, the maximum use of local workforce/materials and use of sustainable systems/products, etc are to be considered.

  • A report of the land availability, currently marketed or otherwise
  • An options appraisal for each area of identified land, detailing the potential of developing a range of both domestic and commercial properties
  • A report of funding opportunities for; land purchase, domestic and commercial property development and revenue costs of developing these.
  • An appraisal of the current and future employment needs of the main employment providers and their attitude towards supporting a housing project.
  • A comparative study of the current market values of a broad range of commercial and domestic properties on Westray, in Orkney and National
  • The delivery of and a report of community engagement exercises, exploring local people’s attitudes towards a housing development project
  • A report, including running costs, of organisations with the ability to manage the lettings and maintenance of the domestic and commercial properties
  • An exploration of emerging opportunities to link with any local and national projects, maximising the benefit of developing housing and commercial properties.
  • Identification of areas of land where the potential exists to use legislation to transfer ownership, for the purposes of building development, to the community.

Management and Output

The Operations Manager of Westray Development Trust will be the principle point of contract for the commission and to whom all enquiries should be addressed.

The work is weighted more towards developing a view on the local need, therefore it is anticipated that the consultant would spend considerable time on Westray with the collation of the wider information and report writing being conducted remotely. As such Tenders should reflect the additional costs of travelling and working on a remote island.

Remuneration

This is a fixed-term contract with a specified fixed budget and is to including travel, accommodation, administration and all other aspects of delivering the study on time.

The successful candidate will be contracted on a self-employed basis and will be liable for all tax, insurance and pension contributions.

Fifty percent of the agreed budget will be paid on appointment with the remainder on receipt on approval of the final report.

Budget

The maximum budget allocated for the purposes of fulfilling this contract is £9000 and is to include all costs associated with the delivery and production of the key tasks.  The work is part funded by the Westray Development Trust and The Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Procedure for Tendering

Invitations to tender will be accepted in a written format of no more than 3 pages of A4 in either electronic or hard copy with an attached CV. A scoring matrix is attached and is based on:

  • The clarity of the proposal and its proximity to our specified key tasks
  • The stated capability of the organisation including relevant and recent experience
  • The skills and experience of the key personnel
  • Quality assurance statements and production of testimonials
  • Assessment of the risks and constraints of the organisation and/or key personnel.
  • The intended methodology to achieve the required outcomes
  • Access to resources
  • Timeline and allocation of tasks
  • Price

Timeline

12th February 2016                           Invitations to Tender sent out

8th March 2016 (Noon)                   Closing Date

15th March 2016                               Initial Assessment

16th-23rd March 2016                       Review period with tenderers

4th April 2016                                      Final Assessment

5th April 2016                                      Awarding of contract to successful Tenderer

6th April 2016                                      Feedback VC/Skype available for unsuccessful Tenderers

8th April 2016                                      VC or Skype meeting with successful Tenderer

8th July 2016                                        Work to be fully completed with reports submitted