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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Marie Sharp

New East Lothian town's first council houses delayed by Suez Canal blockage and Brexit

The Suez canal blockage, Brexit and Covid have been blamed for a delay to the first council homes in a new East Lothian town being handed over.

The local authority was due to take ownership of houses at Blindwells next month.

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However the transfer has now been put back and is unlikely to happen before April.

A council spokesperson said: “We are working very closely with Cruden Homes, who are developing the first 60-unit phase of new council housing on the Blindwells site.

"We are aware of delays in the construction of these homes due to various material supply and labour issues caused by a combination of COVID-19, the impact of Brexit and the Suez Canal blockage crisis.

"However, we currently expect handover of the first 15 units in April.”

The Suez Canal is a vital waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea to provide the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. It was blocked for six days last March after sea vessel the Ever Given became wedged across it.

Hundreds of container vessels and ships were caught up in the logjam created by the blockage which put the canal, which sees around 12% of global trade pass through it each day, out of action.

The construction industry across Scotland has also been hit by worldwide material shortages as well as staffing issues caused by the pandemic.

The new Blindwells settlement which sits between the established towns of Prestonpans and Tranent. is expected to have 1,600 homes in total with further land expected to be expanded into in the future.

Under East Lothian Council's planning policy 25% of new housing built by any developer must be affordable.

At a virtual meeting of the council this week it was revealed the local authority had been expecting to deliver 105 new council houses in this financial year but delays at Blindwells were likely to have an effect on that final figure.

In addition the council had added 62 registered social landlord (RSL)housing units and 18 mid-market retail properties.

Head of housing Wendy McGuire said that since April 2017, 779 affordable homes had been produced and the current year's expectation would take the number to 964.

Council leader Norman Hampshire told the meeting: "Despite the difficulties that is still a significant number of affordable housing."

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