Cairngorms set to ratify homes rule

Residency conditions may be attached to all housing in the Cairngorms national park after a study found that demand for homes is far outstripping supply.

In its first draft local plan, published last week, the Cairngorms National Park Authority sets out a list of restrictions that could be included in the final document, depending on the response from consultees.

The conditions would demand that anyone applying to build a home in a settlement must fit one of the following criteria:

- Have lived in the park for at least three years.

- Be the head of household who is, or whose partner is, taking up permanent full-time employment in the park.

- Be elderly or disabled, live in the park and require more suitable accommodation.

- Be a person having to leave tied accommodation in the park.

In all cases, applicants must prove that they are unhoused or inadequately housed.

The proposals were drawn up after residents identified the shortage of affordable housing as their greatest concern and a study by Heriot-Watt University estimated that at least 600 affordable homes are needed over the next five years. At present, around 115 homes are completed in the park each year.

"If those 600 homes were assumed to be only 25 per cent of the total needed, it suggests that the park would need to build 2,400 homes over the next five years," the plan states. "Such a figure is unlikely to be sustainable and would represent a four-fold increase in rates of building."

Approximately 20 per cent of all houses in the park are second homes, with many others occupied by people who have retired to the area. Only Aviemore and Carrbridge have more under 16s than over 60s.

Don McKee, the park authority's head of planning development and control, said that the document has been heavily influenced by local opinion.

When adopted, the plan will replace those of Moray, Highland, Aberdeenshire and Angus Councils, all of which cover parts of the park.

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