Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
One of the objectives of the town is to provide affordable housing, with the community founders hoping to offer high-quality, environmentally friendly homes – many built at a factory on site – at 60 per cent of the market value. Bill Nicol, the project director, said this would be achieved by adopting Owen's principles and the garden-city ethos of minimising the land, labour, capital and entrepreneurial costs and passing the benefits on to the user. Whereas mainstream developers would concentrate on building in honeypot areas around Edinburgh and Glasgow, Owenstown will create quality housing in an area that would otherwise continue to decline, it is claimed."Surplus funds will be reinvested into the community instead of being sucked out by property developers or landowners as profit," Mr Nicol said.
The community's would-be founders, who intend to live in Owenstown, say it will bear little resemblance to unloved Scottish new towns such as Glenrothes and Cumbernauld, which were assembled around the needs of the motor car. Instead, it will be designed on a human scale, under the democratic control of neighbourhood committees, with leisure and work needs given equal priority. The seven quarters, radiating out from a civic core, will be built in the Scottish vernacular style. There will be three schools (two primary and one secondary), sports facilities, generous allotment spaces for residents to grow – and trade – their own food and thousands of acres of open countryside. As well as provision for children and families, there are plans to create living space for the elderly close to the civic core. It is also intended that there will be a hotel, cafés, restaurants and shops, land and buildings for industry, and an electric bus service.
"We have had 1,500 applications with very limited publicity. What we do get is a lot of young families – couples in their twenties with children. Both might have jobs but they still cannot afford to have somewhere to live," said Martyn Greene, co-ordinator of the Hometown Foundation, the charity set up to make the vision a reality.
We are also minded of Red Clydesider’s, John Wheatley, ambition for workers cottages which turned into council housing schemes.
Making capitalism anything more pleasant than merely endurable is a forlorn dream. But certainly the proposed planning outlines what can be achieved to make socialism a nicer place to live.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
10,143-acre Cluny estate at Laggan, Invernessshire, ‘offers over £7.5 million'. The house has three main reception rooms along with seven main bedrooms and five bathrooms. Eleven estate houses and cottages are used to house staff or could be developed as holiday lets.
Hoscote estate at Roberton, in the Borthwick Water valley in upper Teviotdale, nine miles south-west of Hawick, little more than an hour's drive from the Scottish capital, for which ‘offers over £2.95 million' are sought. As well as the refurbished nine-bedroom main house surrounded by formal gardens, the estate includes five modernised houses and cottages, an in-hand livestock farm. It also offers a pheasant shoot, roe-deer stalking, duck-shooting and trout fishing on Borthwick Water.
Culdaremore near Fortingall, in the heart of Highland Perthshire, another small estate with a five-bedroom main house, gardens and a range of traditional stone buildings, surrounded by 375 acres of pasture, hill grazing and conifer plantations. Offers over £1.25m are sought. Also available is red- and roe-deer stalking, fishing on the River Lyon, a tributary of the Tay, and the potential to create a low-ground pheasant shoot.
Offers over £1.25m for the picturesque, 194-acre Achara estate near the Highland village of Duror, near Loch Linnhe in coastal Argyll. The house was built in the Scots Baronial style. In addition to the eight-bedroom main house overlooking Loch Linnhe, the estate boasts a converted three-bedroom coach house and two cottages suitable for holiday lets.
At offers over £950,000 Lessudden House on the eastern edge of pretty St Boswells village, 4-and-a-half miles from Melrose, Roxburghshire, and within a realistic commuting distance from both Edinburgh and Newcastle. Lessudden House sits in the midst of 19 acres of enchanting gardens and grounds, surrounded on three sides by parkland grazing. Accommodation includes reception and dining halls, two further main reception rooms, five main bedrooms and an attic bedroom. A range of stabling offers potential for development.
Wellfield House and Lodge at Duns, 15 miles from Berwick. Offers over £1.5m are sought for the five-bedroom house, and its two bedroom lodge. The main house is set in some eight acres of wooded gardens and grounds
Offers over £1.65m are sought for Leithen Lodge at Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, a refurbished the three-storey main house, with courtyard apartment and wing, and 20 acres of gardens, grounds and parkland.
The House of Aquahorthies near Inverurie, ‘offers over £1.3m', A nine-bedroom house, AND some 38 acres of landscaped grounds, woodland and paddocks
Saturday, July 13, 2013
It could be more than 20 years before enough new homes are built in Scotland to meet the country's projected needs. Scotland requires 21,230 new homes each year between 2011 and 2035 to meet a projected 21% increase in the population to 2.9 million by 2035.
Councils and registered social landlords have built 14,000 fewer homes since 2005 than the Scottish Government said were needed. Funding for housing fell by around one-quarter between 2008/09 and 2011/12 with further reductions to come, while the number of new private homes built has more than halved since 2007/08 when the economic crisis took hold. The Scottish Government’s Audit Scotland blames the recession, along with constraints on lending, competing and increasing demands on capital resources, and reduced government subsidies. Changes to the benefit system, an ageing population and the rising number of single person households are creating further pressures.
There are more than 400,000 people currently on housing waiting lists. Audit Scotland said the housing supply was not keeping up with levels of need.
The first fallacy to dismiss is the belief that “housing shortage” is the beginning and end of the problem and is the source of the problem, because if it were, it could be logically assumed that there was some intrinsic inability of society to meet the housing needs of its population. It has had plenty of time and resources to do so, so this is clearly not the full story.
Another fallacy which tends to cloud our conception of the issue is that which suggests that the housing problem has its basis in the inefficiency and lack of organisation of the building industry. It is true that this industry is not generally well organised in relation to output and the workers employed there; it is also true that at times it can operate in an inefficient manner. The fallacy is however that this is a cause of the housing problem rather than, like the housing problem itself, an effect of an inefficient and unrealisable social system. How can the construction industry possible be efficient when it is subjected to the demands of profitability in a system which produces an uneven flow of work, conflict between employers and employees, and most importantly, the fact that buildings which create the greatest profit in construction are usually the least socially useful and therefore take preference over housing?
The facts tell us the industry suffers many problems which have been related to one thing: the contradictions and conflicts of the system of capitalism. Governments do initiate various housing reforms to try to solve these problems, but these always fail. Why is failure so total, especially when the materials, know -how and labour power exist to adequately deal with the problem of providing decent housing for all?
Is it because of stupid or corrupt politicians? Many people believe so and view a particular governments shortcoming’s in light of the various abilities and characters of its leading members. But in actual fact these factors play a very subsidiary part and make no fundamental difference. Some politicians and civil servants , assigned various tasks, may be very well-meaning and in some respects efficient, but in the final analysis fail because they cannot succeed.
Under capitalism all production, government-initiated or not, is with a view to profit, not the satisfaction of human needs, material and recreational. Since the profit motive is the very life-blood of the capitalist system, it logically follows that government housing programs will also be introduced with a view to providing a profit for some capitalist group or other. Whether or not the politicians involve be good guys or con-artists is immaterial, because the financial institutions putting up the money for these reforms want a return for their investment.
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
"Belgravia is becoming a village with fewer people in it," said Alistair Boscawen, a local real estate agent. He works in "the nuts area" of London, as he put it, "where the house prices are bonkers" — anywhere from $7.5 million to $75 million. The buyers are super-wealthy foreigners. London is not the only city where the world's richest people leave their expensive properties vacant while they stay in their expensive properties someplace else; the same is true in parts of Manhattan.
Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour opposition in Westminster Council, said the situation had reached a tipping point. "They may live here for a fortnight in the summer, but for the rest of the year they're contributing nothing to the local economy. The spectre of new buildings where there are no lights on is a real problem."
One Hyde Park, an opulent $1.7 billion apartment building in Knightsbridge. It is rare to see anyone coming to or going from the complex.
Friday, November 09, 2012
Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: "It's easy to think of homelessness as single people sleeping rough. What people don't often consider is the rising numbers of families who, through no fault of their own, have lost their home and have no permanent roof over their heads. For people with children, sofa surfing with friends and family just isn't a realistic option and the temporary accommodation they are forced to stay in is often unsuitable and of poor quality."
Friday, May 04, 2012
With hundreds of thousands of football supporters expected, UEFA estimates 800,000 people, students must vacate their dormitories as a result. They are receiving no compensation nor have they been offered alternative housing. On the contrary they will have to continue paying our dorm fees. Even worse, students at Kiev's National Medical University: They have been asked to refurbish their rooms for the incoming guests -- and they have to shoulder the costs themselves.
Students have to continue paying their dormitory fees of around $16 a month, a significant burden for Ukrainian students who generally have to get by on less than €100 per month. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible for the students to find alternate lodgings. During the tournament, prices for private rooms in the city will soar to some €100 per night with apartments going for at least €250. The university dorms are also hoping for a voluntary workforce during the tournament. Those who work for free as a caretaker in the residence halls are allowed to keep their room.
The deal does have its beneficiaries, however. The Hamburg-based travel company TUI AG. TUI booked the dormatories together with the Ukrainian provider Hamalia Tours has set up a booking agency called the Fan Accommodation Agency. The student rooms cost between €50 and €150 ($66-$197) per night. University authorities also profit. TUI pays a 20 to 25 percent commission to the universities.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
The Trussell Trust, which runs the UK's only network of food banks, is helping to feed 6000 people in Scotland, and 129,000 people across the UK as a whole. Last year the Trussell Trust fed 2400 people in Dundee, 3362 in the Highlands and 375 people at its centre in Glasgow, which opened in December.
John Dickie, from the Children's Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: "This is an indictment of government policy and shouldn't be seen as an alternative to the kind of national action we need to prevent children and families living in poverty."
A decent home is the top priority for Scots, according to a recent poll. But with thousands of people making homeless applications and waiting on council lists for a permanent home, it is an ambition which is far out of reach for many. Demand for housing is predicted to increase over the next two decades, with a rising population and more people living alone or in small households. Changes to housing benefits being introduced by the UK Government could lead to increased arrears and evictions, as thousands of already struggling Scots are pushed deeper into poverty. The economic crisis has brought a tide of rising unemployment, government cutbacks and soaring costs of living, leaving many families struggling to hang on to their home. One recent survey found one in seven people in Scotland are now relying on credit cards and overdrafts to pay their mortgage or rent. An investigation by Shelter Scotland found 26 out of 30 letting agents charged upfront fees for reference checks, credit checks and "general administration", which ranged from £16.80 to £180. Graeme Brown, Shelter Scotland's director, said such issues were creating a "toxic brew" for the housing market.
There are 160,000 people on council waiting lists, over 40,000 people assessed as homeless, and about 10,000 households in temporary accommodation across Scotland just now. Since the onset of the financial crisis, around 26,000 jobs directly linked to the home-building industry in Scotland have been lost. The number of new homes built has fallen from around 26,000 in 2007 to just over 11,000 in 2010. 23,000 privately-owned unoccupied homes across Scotland which have been lying abandoned for six months or more.
"We do a lot of family support work and kids say they want somewhere safe and secure to live – not just in terms of a house but the neighbourhood," Shelter said. "They want somewhere permanent, somewhere they can call home. It is not a bad aspiration to have."
Friday, April 13, 2012
Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, is home to 34 percent of the country's population and is the fastest growing city in Asia – around 40 percent of those living in Dhaka are slum dwellers.
In India fully half the population of the capital, New Delhi, lives in slums, while the figure could be as high as 60 percent in glittering Mumbai. Nation-wide 93 million people are estimated to be living in slums.
Ming Zhang, the World Bank sector manager for Urban Water and Disaster Management for South Asia, predicted that the urban population in South Asia would double in the next 25 years. Already one in every four persons is categorised under ‘informal population’ or living in shanties or slums in the urban areas of the region
Regional experts and those from the World Bank agree that most of the problems faced by the cities are man-made, primarily due to lack of proper planning.
"If we thought about proper urban planning, institutional coherence and community participation, we would be able to address a big chunk of this problem" Abha Joshi-Ghani, the World Bank's Sector Manager for Finance Economics and Urban Planning explained "We are depleting our resources by inefficient and indiscriminate use of resources." Joshi-Ghani told went on to say that any relocation of slum-dwellers has to take into consideration the incomes and lifestyles of those affected, which, if disrupted, could turn the solution itself turns into a problem. "Many think that cities make people poor, when in fact cities attract the poor who think they can make a better living there" she said.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
The number of people turning to the much-criticised operators, whose interest charges can quickly rack up to several hundred per cent, is approaching one million across the UK, while a further six million are using an overdraft, credit cards or other loans to keep a roof over their heads, according to housing campaigner Shelter.
Shelter Scotland spokesman Gordon MacRae said: "These findings are extremely worrying and show that millions of households are desperately struggling to keep their homes. Payday loans may seem like a quick fix to pay for housing costs but with interest rates of up to 4000% annually they are completely unsustainable and can quickly lead to snowballing debt, eviction, repossession and ultimately homelessness...Every two minutes someone in Britain faces the nightmare of losing their home. "
More than one in 10 people in the UK faces a constant struggle to pay their rent or mortgage, while 37% blame high housing costs as the cause of stress and depression in their families.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Kristen Hubert, from Shelter Scotland, said: "The 100,000 figure used by the Bank of Scotland includes property that is only empty for a brief period, between tenants or owners. What is really important is those which are empty for longer, and that problem is really in the private sector."
Shelter Scotland claimed there were 23,000 privately-owned empty homes.
Friday, November 25, 2011
More than 1.4 million homes have failed to meet a key housing standard, new figures have revealed. In 2010 61% of houses, 1,014,000 in the private sector and 393,000 in the socially-rented sector, failed to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard.
One-fifth of the stock in Scotland is now more than 90 years old, a third of the housing stock is more than 60 years old and a fifth of homes have been built in the last 30 years.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Thursday, July 07, 2011
The average price of a home in Edinburgh in the three months to the end of June was £219,530 - down 3.6 per cent from the same period last year. The average selling price of a flat in the Leith Walk and Easter Road area of the capital is now under £100,000 for the first time since 2006.
House prices in the west of Scotland have also tumbled. Prices were 2 per cent lower in the last quarter than in the same period last year, taking them back to 2006 levels. The average selling price of a home in Strathclyde is now £136,000, almost £3,000 lower than a year ago.
There were sharper falls elsewhere in east-central Scotland. The average price of a home in Midlothian in the last quarter was 10.8 per cent lower than a year ago, while the West Lothian average plummeted 9.5 per cent.
David Marshall, business analyst at ESPC explained "There are around 30 per cent more properties available for sale than you would normally see at this time of year, and the number of properties selling is around half that seen prior to the credit crisis,"
Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said the market faced "significant headwinds" that would constrain housing demand. "Low earnings growth, higher taxes and relatively high inflation are all continuing to put pressure on household finances."
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Bank of Scotland research found that soaring gas, electricity and main-tenance costs were the main causes of the rise. It showed that the average annual cost associated with owning and running a home rose by 1.4%, or £116, from £8525 in March 2010 to £8641 in March 2011. Utility costs were up by £102 on average and maintenance costs by £33.
Bank of Scotland housing economist Suren Thiru said: “Household finances remain under pressure with the significant drop in mortgage payments since 2008 mostly offset by increases in other household bills. Rising utility bills have been a clear driver behind this, along with increases in maintenance costs. The current strain on household finances is particularly concerning at a time when earnings growth remains weak.”
Another study revealed over-50s are suffering a drop in their quality of life as their incomes are squeezed by low interest rates and high inflation. Research by Saga found that around 56% of older people cite the rising cost of living as their biggest concern, more than double the 27% who are most worried about their health.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
The group has predicted that a total of 40,000 people will lose their homes this year, up from 36,300 in 2010, due to the squeeze on household incomes as a result of the combination of rising taxes and living costs and slow wage growth. Around 166,900 people were in arrears of at least 2.5% of their outstanding loan at the end of March.
Industry commentators have also warned that Government initiatives to help keep people in their homes may simply be delaying a spike in repossession numbers.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
On average, Scots trying to get on to the property ladder will have to find a £21,000 deposit for their starter home, according to the Halifax. It means at least a decade of scrimping and saving to get a foot on the ladder. Someone earning the average Scottish wage of £25,350 and saving one-tenth of their take-home pay would need more than a decade to amass the down payment, while still paying rent.Overall, the average house price paid by a first-time buyer in the UK has more than doubled over the past decade, increasing by 102% from £68,644 in 2000 to £138,682 in 2010 – equivalent to a weekly increase of £135. With such high demands made of those looking to buy, the average age of a first-time buyer in 2010 was 29. But it estimated that the average age of first-time buyers without financial assistance, such as a parental loan, had increased from 33 in 2007 to 36 now.
While the average-earning Scottish buyer will take 11 years to amass a deposit, a typical buyer elsewhere in the country would take nearer 15 years if they saved at the same rate.
Friday, November 12, 2010
The charity found that more than one in three homeowners are worried about keeping up mortgage payments, and one in six are already struggling to find the money each month.
“We know from the cases we see every day that it only takes one problem, like a bout of illness, or redundancy, to tip people over the edge and into a spiral of mounting debt and arrears.” Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said
One in every six mortgage holders across the UK was actively struggling to pay a mortgage.
Monday, March 29, 2010
While many might be tempted to dismiss homelessness as a problem for drug addicts and alcoholics. Shelter said that it is in fact far more wide-ranging than the public realises.“It’s hidden, and people don’t know the true scale,” said Jessie Crawford, author of the new report. “This is tens of thousands of children waking up every day in cold, damp, overcrowded homes, or with the uncertainty of being homeless, and not knowing whether they’re going to get somewhere to live."
One in every ten children – 128,000 in total – is living in fuel poverty, the report said, with their families struggling to heat their homes through winter.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
A report by Oxfam into the Govanhill migrants found:
"On arrival, Roma without exception find themselves either without employment, or with a temporary 'position', and sharing small flats in conditions of extreme overcrowding and squalor. Having paid weekly 'fees' to 'gangmasters', Roma find they are unable to change their situation. Indeed, to break away from this exploitation puts them at extreme risk, not only of unemployment, but also homelessness and destitution in the absence of benefit entitlement."
EU migrants like the Roma are not entitled to housing benefits. They are also unlikely to satisfy the credit checks expected by most landlords.This means they group together in order to afford rents and accept properties in conditions that others wouldn't. Oxfam concluded that in Govanhill:
"There appears to be high availability of poor quality, private rented accommodation provided by landlords prepared to turn a blind eye to overcrowding providing the price is right. Issuing no formal tenancy agreements means tenants have limited notional rights and therefore cannot easily protect themselves against unregulated landlords."
Mike Dailly, from the Govan law centre said: "People are coming from Eastern Europe and they are coming to work. They arrive in Glasgow with the promise of work having paid £450. They then discover there is no job for them and they have been ripped off.So what we've got is gangmaster agencies working abroad, working hand in hand with landlords in Govanhill and ripping people off."
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