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Housing controversy apology

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Annan and Eskdale
Housing controversy apology

A LENGTHY apology was this week issued by Loreburn Housing Association over the Murtholm Farm construction controversy at Langholm.

The organisation revealed that building costs, which were originally estimated at £27m six years ago, have now skyrocketed to £40m.

Their statement reads: “We announced last year that all development plans were to be postponed for the foreseeable future, given the challenging financial backdrop and borrowing rates.

“This came at a time when we also made a commitment to existing Loreburn tenants about prioritising investment in their homes.

“Loreburn’s management committee recently made the difficult decision to increase rents by 7.5 per cent to ensure that we invest substantially in our existing stock, ensuring that we improve our tenants’ homes and to also improve their thermal efficiency.

“It was estimated that to complete the development at Murtholm in 2023 it would require approximately £34 million. Loreburn would need to invest approximately £19 million of private finance to deliver 125 new homes.

“Loreburn have to date invested substantially in the site with £1.8m from existing budgets and almost £1.3m funding from the Scottish Government.

“In 2018 we estimated the costs to be £27m. Costs have increased further since we reassessed the project in 2023, and in 2024 we would estimate that these may have risen now to approximately £40m.

“The financial burden of these costs is substantial. If we were to commit to the project in the short term, it would mean that we would need to revise our investment strategy and potentially would not be able to invest in our existing homes.

“The economic climate has changed substantially since the initiation of the project in 2018. All works involved have seen substantial cost increases and we have had to reassess our strategy for meeting the needs of our existing tenants and our wider community.”

The organisation say they are continuing to explore” alternative models for Murtholm, which was earmarked for 35 units, and working closely with the NHS to determine the required type and number of houses that are needed.

They also expressed their commitment to developing the site, despite the challenges outlined and asked for “understanding of the impact and significance of these.”

Meanwhile, Loreburn chief executive Kirsteen McGinn has been invited to speak at the Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee on June 19.

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