Housing to 2040: consultation analysis
Report summarising and describing the responses to the public consultation on Housing to 2040.
This document is part of a collection
In July 2019, the Scottish Government published its draft vision for our homes and communities in 2040. Between 2 December 2019 and 28 February 2020, Scottish Government undertook a public consultation process on the draft vision which included eight open-ended questions about the vision.
Some 202 responses were received to the consultation and this report presented the analysis from this consultation process.
Responses received were detailed and balanced, and there was significant consensus across the responses and across sectors. As noted in the introduction to this report, there were no significant variations in response between sectors, or significant tensions between responses. There was a great deal of commonality in relation to proposals made for change and future development. Many constructive, creative and innovative suggestions were made for future developments. This is encouraging, and a positive position from which to move forward.
Visions and Principles
There were 166 responses to this question, 22 from individuals and 144 from organisations.
In general, the draft vision and principles were broadly supported by respondents and received praise for being both ambitious and comprehensive. Some respondents expressed doubt over how realistic and achievable the aims were given the challenges that the housing sector faces. In some cases, respondents suggested revisions to the particular phrases in the draft vision and principles in order to strengthen statements or clarify points further.
Comments on the scenarios and resilience of the route map
Respondents’ comments on the scenarios and resilience of the Housing to 2040 route map or constraints were disparate, with mixed views expressed within all respondent types, i.e. there were no obvious trends or preferences by sector interest, which is, of itself, interesting.
The most commonly discussed themes included Scotland’s ageing population and the challenges this poses for the housing sector in ensuring that people can adapt their homes to meet their needs as they get older. There were also comments related to the challenges presented by various social, economic and environmental trends, including the increasing proportion of single person households, the gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, the growth of holiday lets and student accommodation, and climate change.
Other themes that were identified as relevant across Scotland, but particularly in rural communities, included availability of affordable high-speed internet, access to active and sustainable travel, and depopulation.
Some respondents commented about the cost of achieving the Housing to 2040 vision, with a sense that local authorities will require financial support from the Scottish Government to deliver the vision, while others emphasised the importance of enhancing the skills and availability of construction and trades workers, particularly in the context of Brexit.
Proposals for increasing the affordability of housing in the future
Many respondents called for affordability to be more clearly defined in relation to housing and for there to be a common definition to which everyone could work.
Some respondents considered increasing the supply of housing to be key to improving affordability, while others suggested that a range of factors needed to be implemented. These included maximising the benefit of public sites; implementing a range of more innovative construction methods (such as off-site construction); enabling more investment and offering incentives; increasing support for home-buyers and home ownership; and making changes to taxation, with LBTT being most commonly cited.
Proposals for increasing the accessibility of existing and new housing for older and disabled people
Many respondents identified a significant shortage of accessible housing and the need for this to be addressed. Comments were made in relation to both existing and new housing.
Many respondents emphasised the need to make adaptations to existing housing stock but recognised that this was challenging due to a range of factors including cost and planning constraints. Nevertheless, a range of specific suggestions were made, including adaptations such as widening doorways, installing showers as standard and installing charging points for electric wheelchairs.
There were mixed views in relation to the development of new housing – with some respondents arguing that all future housing should be fully accessible, and others arguing that investment should focus on a minimum number of units. Many agreed that building in flexibility at the outset, to allow for changes based on need to be made at later points was desirable.
Some respondents suggested that alternative building types and methods could improve accessibility, for example co-housing models, and incorporation of more communal spaces into new build developments.
Others advocated for more self-build opportunities since these can offer more affordable, flexible options and can be tailored to meet individual needs.
A few respondents raised issues pertinent to specific groups, including people living with dementia, people with motor neurone disease, people with learning disabilities and gypsy/travellers, and called for their need for accessible housing to be better met in future.
Some respondents highlighted a need for better regulation of adaptations and new housing – suggesting that further prescription was needed from Government, that regulations should apply across tenures, and that meaningful targets should be set. Some called for a single government framework for adaptations regardless of tenure. However, some respondents also highlighted challenges with enforcement.
Other issues raised included calls for further support for independent living; support to people wishing to downsize; and the increased use of technology to improve accessibility.
Proposals to help Scottish Government to respond to the global climate emergency by increasing the energy efficiency and warmth and lowering carbon emissions of existing and new housing
Respondents provided a wide range of detailed suggestions to help the Scottish Government respond to the global climate emergency.
Key issues raised included the need for greater regulation and higher standards to be applied to new build housing, ensuring that adaptations are made to existing housing stock and the importance of trialling new construction methods to enhance energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
Respondents also discussed the need to ensure a transition from oil and gas to other energy forms, tensions between energy efficiency and heritage and the need for a mix of regulation and monitoring alongside education, advice and financial support across all tenures.
Proposals to improve the quality, standards and state of repair of existing and new housing
The most common suggestions for improving the quality, standard and state of repair of housing focused on repairing and maintaining existing housing stock. Respondents emphasised the importance of developing a single set of standards for maintenance across all tenures. Various penalties, such as fines or increased Council Tax, and incentives, such as loans and grants, to encourage owners to maintain their properties adequately were suggested.
Many felt that local authorities need more resources and support to apply their enforcement powers when owners do not undertake critical repairs.
Energy efficiency was a key consideration, with some respondents noting that the standards for maintenance should encompass improvements designed to enhance a property’s energy efficiency, while some noted that existing housing should be upgraded to meet the same standards as new build properties, especially in terms of energy efficiency.
Other suggestions included enhancing the skills of people working in the construction industry and related trades, introducing greater regulation of tradespeople, exploring the use of innovative construction models such as off-site construction, bringing empty homes back into use, and various measures to improve the quality of new build housing such as reviewing and refreshing the standards set out in Housing for Varying Needs.
Proposals to improve the space around our homes and promote connected places and vibrant communities
There was a strong emphasis among many respondents on the importance of shared green and/or open spaces in improving the areas around our homes and promoting connected places and vibrant communities. There was a common view that shared green and open spaces can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as promoting physical and mental health and wellbeing among residents.
Many respondents also identified the importance of spaces around homes being designed to enable people to access active modes of travel and/or public transport safely and easily. Respondents noted that this might require enhancements to local infrastructure, such as upgrading street lighting or cycle paths.
Again, respondents emphasised the benefits of active and sustainable travel for climate change and health and wellbeing.
Another recurring viewpoint was that spaces around homes should enable easy access to services and amenities such as shops, exercise and leisure facilities, education and healthcare.
The findings from the housing to 2040 consultation will inform the final vision for, and route map, to 2040.
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