Tenants have now moved into the first council houses to be built in St Andrews in 17 years.
Though only a handful are currently complete, by March, 29 new homes will stand at Freeborn Court, off Abbey Walk.
The houses will consist of 22 two-bedroom and seven three-bedroom homes.
This comes as part of Fife Council’s Affordable Housing Programme which aims to provide 2,700 new and affordable homes to the public by 2017.
The Council’s Executive Spokesperson for Housing & Building Services, Councillor Judy Hamilton, described the construction as “a lovely development that will help to tackle the very high demand and low turnover of council housing in the St Andrews area.
“It’s great to see the modern, energy efficient flats welcome their first phase of tenants to what I like to call ‘warmer, drier, healthier homes’.”
St Andrews Labour Councillor, Brian Thomson, also welcomed the houses’ completion, noting the desperate need for new council housing in a town “where a huge proportion of the housing stock is owned by absentee landlords, who lease their properties as expensive student lets.
“As a result, many streets have almost no permanent residents, and the houses that do become available are only available to those with substantial incomes,” he told The Saint.
Councillor Thomson observed that this leads to many people who grew up in the town moving elsewhere in search for affordable accommodation, which he described as “not conducive to maintaining a sustainable community.”
Though the Councillor noted that the 29 new houses do not by any means alleviate the town’s housing problem, he hopes “the development does represent an important step, and it will hopefully be followed by the development of further new affordable homes, as other sites within the town become available.”
Tenant David Raynor also expressed hopes for further new housing in St Andrews for those who had not been as lucky as he and his family, who he describes as “happy” and “thankful” to have been offered one of the new flats at Freeborn Court.
Asserting that the housing is “of a very high standard,” he said, “These flats are beautiful inside and out and the area is going to be so quiet once the building is all completed.
“We are two minutes from the town centre by walking, but yet you feel [like] the flats are in the countryside.”
Mr Raynor explained that in his previous two-bedroom flat elsewhere in St Andrews, two boys (aged 10 and six months) were forced to share a bedroom with their two stepsisters (aged 14 and 10). He described the situation as “unworkable” and “distressing.”
The tenant’s job as a firefighter required him to be on call 24 hours per day and able to get to the fire station within minutes, making moving out of St Andrews impossible.
With the family unable to afford private rented accommodation and the waiting list for housing in St Andrews so long, Mr Raynor was considering resigning from the fire service in order to find a suitable home for his family, when he was offered the flat at Freeborn Court.
Stewart Shearer, Managing Director of Robertson Partnership Homes, responsible for the construction of the houses said: “We are delighted that tenants are now benefiting from their new homes at Freeborn Court, following the handover of the first phase of council housing in St Andrews in nearly two decades.”
“We are committed to providing affordable housing across Scotland, with Freeborn Court one of three projects being delivered in partnership with Fife Council. Combined, these developments in St Andrews, Methil and Kirkcaldy will deliver almost 300 affordable, quality homes for the people of Fife.”