Campaigners in Dufftown want to create an affordable housing development to ensure residents can continue to buy and live in their own community.
Concerns have been raised that some rural towns and villages across the north may be at risk of “dying” due to a growing homes crisis.
There have been reports of young adults finding it difficult to save to buy while some properties are being bought by people moving to the region.
Affordable housing project could be ‘game-changer’ for Dufftown
Now Dufftown Community Association has launched a consultation to establish an affordable housing development in the Speyside town and ensure locals are not priced out of the region.
Chairman Fraser McGill said: “We began a partnership with the Communities Housing Trust in April 2020 after learning of the underlying challenges in our community.
“The trustees felt that good quality affordable housing designed to minimise fuel poverty and support local families to stay in Dufftown would be a game-changer for the community.
“Delivering affordable housing that is owned by the community and for the community will ensure that the residents’ interests are always met.”
A separate community-owned affordable housing initiative has already begun in nearby Tomintoul.
Campaigners there have secured the village’s former secondary school buildings to make way for 12 homes with some having workshop space to support new businesses.
The Dufftown Community Association is yet to decide on a site for the affordable housing project, which will be decided through a local consultation.
However, potential locations have been set aside for homes in Moray Council’s local development plan at Hillside Farm as well as two locations on Hill Street and on Balvenie Street.
It is hoped the new Dufftown homes will provide a step on the ladder for families while also supporting those who need assistance in older age to stay in their local community.
Nationwide need for affordable homes
A consultation is due to be launched with residents in the autumn to help shape the range of needs required.
Last month the Scottish Government announced plans to deliver 100,000 new affordable homes across the country as part of a 20-year strategy to increase energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty.
The announcement came after a target to build 50,000 new properties by May’s election was missed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Richard Lochhead, SNP candidate for Moray, has met campaigners in Dufftown to discuss their plans.
He said: “A supply of affordable housing in Dufftown is essential to allow young people and working families in particular to live in a good quality home in their own community.
“The DDCA (Dufftown and District Community Association) is doing a remarkable job in so many ways and I commend their vision and hard work which goes to show what grassroots action can achieve.
“There is no doubt that their work has the potential to transform Dufftown.”
Joe Gribben, community-led housing officer at the Communities Housing Trust, said: “We are very pleased to be supporting DDCA in their efforts to address the shortage of affordable housing in Dufftown.
“Community-led housing projects respond to the local need and can have many benefits for the community and its businesses.”