Largs Labour councillor Alex Gallagher has hailed a 'ground-breaking' pilot project to build 33 new homes at the former St Mary's Primary School.
The project is set to be launched by North Ayrshire Council to help people get on the housing ladder.
The Home Ownership Made Easy (HOME) initiative will also aim to support home owners who want to downsize from their current property into more suitable accommodation.
North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet approved the innovative scheme this month.
If the pilot gets the go-ahead, 33 new homes will be built on the site of the former St Mary’s Primary School, Largs.
Cllr. Gallagher said: "This is a completely new and novel way of trying to encourage home ownership and Largs is a pilot study and it is potentially a very promising idea. We are at the forefront of new ideas when it comes to home building.
"It is an opportunity for these people who may not qualify and don't have money for a full deposit on a home they may wish to have - it allows them to get the first step on the housing lader and opportunity to get on the housing market.
"It is one of the first of its kind in Scotland and if successful I am sure it will be implemented through the full council area."
The council and residents would share ownership of the house with two different models of ownership available.
The £5,000 HOME which is designed for first-time buyers, where a £5,000 investment is paid up-front to access shared ownership of a new home. This would be aimed at those who have some savings but are currently unable to raise the full deposit required for a home in the private market. The low monthly occupancy fee gives occupants the opportunity to save towards securing a fully private home in the future and covers all key aspects of maintenance of the property.
The £40,000 HOME which is aimed primarily at those aged over-60, where a £40,000 investment is paid up-front. This would be for those who currently own a home, and are looking to downsize and/or secure a home with level access which better meets their needs. The monthly occupancy fee is affordable and gives occupants greater peace of mind, by providing low, fixed monthly outgoings in terms of household costs while retaining property equity.
Councillor Jim Montgomerie said: “We’re already taking huge strides in providing modern, energy efficient homes through our house-building programme which will deliver almost 1300 new homes for social rent across North Ayrshire by 2024.
“The HOME scheme will take us in a new and exciting direction by giving a helping hand to those who are finding it difficult to get on the property ladder or those who are living in a property which is just unsuitable for their current needs.
“Although this programme will be piloted in Largs, it could be rolled out to other locations in North Ayrshire if it’s successful.
“This has the potential to be a ground-breaking project and one that offers a real, affordable alternative for those who are struggling to buy their own home or find themselves stuck in a house which is perhaps too large to maintain or no longer meets their needs.”
The council has been working with the Scottish Futures Trust to develop the project which would be one of the first in Scotland to offer this type of home ownership arrangement.
Christa Reekie, commercial director at the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), said: “Increasing the supply and improving the quality of housing across Scotland remains a key priority for us. SFT’s housing experts worked alongside North Ayrshire Council to develop this new housing model for first time buyers and older people looking to downsize. As well as benefitting many individuals, the new ownership model introduces more homes that will be affordable to buy.”
If approved by Cabinet, Council officers will begin to draw up detailed plans for the St Mary’s site as well as gather notes of interest from those wishing to take advantage of the scheme. Initially, it is anticipated that due to the demand for housing in the North Coast area, the pilot HOME scheme will give priority to those who live within the North Coast area or have a need to relocate to the area because of a care or support need.