A councillor has called for South Ayrshire Council to ‘move on’ from undeveloped housing sites and look at alternatives.
Pockets of land across South Ayrshire are allocated for housing as part of the council’s local development plan, to ensure that there is enough housing to meet demand in the future.
However, at a meeting on Thursday, March 31, councillors questioned why sites which have been left untouched for years remain as part of the plan, while other suitable sites remain unallocated.
Maybole councillor Iain Campbell said: “We should not be held to ransom where [development] is going to take 20 years. We should move on. We should be building houses.”
Girvan Councillor Alec Clark pointed to issues with housing supply in his ward.
“There is no significant land supply,” he said. “The problem I have with supply is that we have land that is continually there from one year to another but does not get developed, yet we hold back land that could be developed from coming into the picture."
Head of planning Craig Iles responded that the sites chosen are always ‘the next best site’ for towns and villages.
He said: “It is important these are used as drivers to take settlements forward and build communities. We do need to make sure that sites that are brought forward are deliverable.”
Cllr Clark said: “The last time that social housing was built for the council in Girvan was back in 1973. Any social housing that has been built in recent times has been either specialised or for Travellers.
“We have had nothing except for some developed by Ayrshire Housing.”
Mr Iles suggested that developers would be ‘chapping’ at his door if the ‘market’ felt a need for housing.
However, Cllr Clark suggested that estate agents had told him that they ‘do not have enough houses to sell’.
Cllr Campbell pointed to the development of Ayr South as an example of the issue.
He stated that developers had failed to begin development, despite having issued press releases stating intended start dates.
“How long must a site be on South Ayrshire’s books until is considered undeliverable?,” he asked.
Mr Iles suggested that a lot of the delays were down to ‘external factors’ such as upgrades to roads or utilities.
He added that looking at other sites ‘might not be best for a town or village’.
Cllr Campbell described the inclusion of the houses in Ayr South as ‘ghost figures’ and suggested that they were included in the LDP housing stock numbers.
However, the council’s documents indicate that the 750 homes in the Ayr South plan are not included in the overall housing supply statistics.
Mr Iles suggested that recent discussions about the site had been positive.
He said: “There have been a number of false dawns, so I am not going to say it will happen tomorrow. But the developers are very positive and there is activity and I would like to say there will be progress in the not to distant future.”
He added that there is an overprovision of sites in the plans, meaning that uptake of other sites could be sufficient. “All our eggs are not in one basket,” he said.
One of the developments within the broader South Ayr masterplan will see developers Wilson Hampshire Ltd build around 250 homes, local shops, hospitality, offices, care home and creche.
This would create 77 new jobs; £337,000 in council tax receipts and a capital investment of almost £40 million according to the developers.
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