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May 1, 2019

Local response to national crisis

Arran is often described as Scotland in miniature because on this one island, there’s considered to be an element of all that people love about Scotland. But when it comes to the issue of housing need, the island has become a magnification of a national malaise. With so many houses being bought as holiday homes or as somewhere to retire to, prices have skyrocketed, forcing local workers to move off the island to find accommodation. Now the local development trust has come up with a radical plan to build houses and allocate them according to ability to pay.


A community group wants to build dozens of homes on Arran based on economic need as a solution to the small island’s affordable homes’ crisis.

Campaigners say the island’s house prices are as unaffordable as London with the annual wage on Arran sitting at £24,000 – with house prices going for 10 times that figure.

Arran Economic Group (AEG), a community group formed by campaigners and local businesses, now wants government cash to build dozens of affordable homes aimed at local workers, which will be given out based on economic rather than social need.

The Scottish government is considering a bid from the Arran Development Trust – a company set up by the AEG – for £8.5m from its rural and islands housing fund to build 43 houses and supply 14 self-build plots, which will be prioritised for the island’s workforce.

Figures from North Ayrshire council shows that in some areas 40% of homes are for holiday lets. Sliddery, on the south of Arran, has nearly half of its 73 properties as holiday homes.

It means local people are being forced to live on the mainland, driving out families who have lived on the island for generations with many now commuting to their jobs on the island.

Research shows that when properties are used for tourists or bought by retirees it pushes up prices and results in shortages of homes to rent.

Joe Cullinane, council leader, said: “The AEG has shone a light on the situation on the island, which is probably one of the most extreme in the country and which is really quite staggering.