By Nicola Barclay

THIS is set to be a year to remember for the Scottish home building industry with the Scottish Government’s vision for Housing to 2040 currently the subject of a major public consultation.

Aiming to set out how our homes and communities should look and feel in 2040 alongside how to get there, home builders clearly have a major role to play, not only in its evolution but also its delivery.

Will all new homes be built in factories by then? How will they be heated? Where will they be located? Will we still own cars? These are some of the questions our industry is currently grappling with. But we can’t do this alone. Large-scale infrastructure providers (water, transport, energy) and both national and local government must work with us to deliver the homes of the future.

It seems rather fitting, then, that this year also marks Homes for Scotland’s 20th anniversary of representing organisations that deliver the vast majority of the country’s new homes, for both purchasers and tenants.

In an ideal world, there should be no requirement for organisations such as ours, working to ensure sure we have a supportive policy environment that meets the housing needs and aspirations of all those who live, or want to live, here.

Unfortunately, however, the housing context for Scots, and the operating environment within which our members work, remains far from perfect.

Indeed, so many additional demands have been placed on home builders over the last 20 years that it’s a wonder there is any building at all, and I am told regularly that it has never been harder to get spades in the ground.

So how have things changed since 2000?

When it comes to obstacles to housing delivery, planning may well be top of mind for many – and it’s still right up there, but so too now is infrastructure funding, utilities provision, skill shortages and other matters of depleted industry capacity.

Against this backdrop, I would say the most important change is recognition of the need for a whole-system approach to housing and infrastructure delivery across political parties at a national level. Understanding the housing sector as a whole, rather than viewing private and social sectors as competing factions, is fundamental if we are to properly tackle our housing crisis. I am pleased to say that this, in large part, has arisen from increased partnership working, with both market and affordable housing deliverers recognising the mutual benefits that collaboration creates in unlocking otherwise unviable sites.

Home builders are also more creative and agile than ever before. This is especially important given that the homes built in 20 years’ time may well be fundamentally different than those of today, with new construction methods, heating systems, recycling and waste reduction all in the mix as housing evolves in the context of the climate emergency.

Looking ahead, there is presently strong political support at a national level to ensure we have the correct policies in place to enable the delivery of more homes. However, there is still too much local political resistance resulting in additional delays and costs.

With build rates still below those of 20 years ago, Scotland can’t afford to lose sight of the crucial role housing plays in all our lives if it is to meaningfully address issues of inequality and affordability. The drive to ensure everyone has a warm, secure, high quality home must continue.

Nicola Barclay is Chief Executive, Homes for Scotland