Working together to tackle South’s housing challenge

Working together to tackle South’s housing challenge

Partners in the Convention of the South of Scotland (CoSS) have  committed to working together to help address housing challenges in the region.

The latest CoSS meeting, held in Dumfries on Monday 27 February, heard a variety of views from across the South, with the Convention recognising the specific housing challenges and opportunities which are in the region.

The Convention agreed to commit to developing and support deliverable solutions, building on the positive work already underway.

The Convention of the South of Scotland was created by the Scottish Government in 2019 in order to bring together public bodies with responsibility for growth and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas on priorities and how to tackle key regional issues.

The meeting

The latest meeting brought together developers, infrastructure providers, private landlords and Registered Social Landlords, as well as the Scottish Government, Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders councils and South of Scotland Enterprise alongside other public agencies.

Particular housing issues facing the South include:

  • Lack of suitable homes in right locations
  • Old housing stock with poor energy efficiency
  • Skills shortages
  • Limited number of locally based housebuilders.

These issues were adding to recruitment challenges for both public and private employers and preventing the region delivering on its potential.


However, there were many opportunities discussed as part of the meeting, including:

  • The possibilities for additional employment and investment that would come as the challenges were tackled
  • The vital contribution this would make to Net Zero targets
  • Positive impact for the vibrant and proud communities based here.

Previous projects

Some innovative projects were also presented, such as Kirkhope Steading, a £1.9million development by Ettrick and Yarrow Community Development Company in 2022.

It resulted in the conversion of a Victorian corn mill, farm steading and paddock into family homes and business workshops in a rural area of the Scottish Borders.

There was also Langholm Old Police Station, which saw South of Scotland Community Housing work with the Eskdale Foundation to purchase a building which had not been in use for 15 years, and develop it to provide four families with permanently affordable, warm, safe and high-quality homes.

The homes allowed four households to return or relocate to Langholm with secure tenancies and provide long-term opportunities to live and work in the area.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“The Convention of the South of Scotland is an important platform that enables us to discuss how we support sustainable economic growth across the region and achieve the best possible outcomes for local communities and people.

“In this parliamentary term, the Scottish Government is providing £188 million to support the delivery of high quality affordable homes across the south of Scotland.

"This will build on our record of delivering over 1,340 affordable homes across the region in the last parliament through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.

"This includes support for both Langholm and Kirkhope Steading through the Rural and Island Housing Fund.”

Professor Russel Griggs, South of Scotland Enterprise Chair, said:

“Since our inception in April 2020, SOSE has regularly heard people, businesses, social enterprises and communities across the South of Scotland tell us that housing is one of the biggest issues they face.

"This can impact on attracting people to live, learn and work here, as well as keeping our young people in the region.

“This is why all partners wanted to dedicate this CoSS meeting solely to housing.

“It has given us the opportunity to discuss the challenges with a wide cross-section of people, celebrate and learn from the innovative projects taking place in our region, and commit to working together to try deliver some solutions.

“This work is crucial to helping us achieve our collective aim of creating a green, fair and flourishing South of Scotland.”

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Stephen Thompson said:

“I was very pleased to be able to welcome delegates to the CoSS in Dumfries today to address our shared concerns for sustainable, affordable housing across our regions.

“Suitable housing is a wide-reaching issue which impacts numerous other matters, such as the ability of businesses to attract new employees into our region, pressures on people’s health and wellbeing, and climate change through poor energy efficiency.

“Strategic planning can also utilise surplus land. By joining together with one voice through CoSS we aim to work collectively to address these problems.”

Councillor Richard Brodie, Depute Leader said:

“I am pleased that our Council is working together with partners through the CoSS.

“We all recognise the need to urgently address our housing stock, upgrade older, inefficient properties and look to provide new houses which will meet people’s needs and enhance and sustain communities.

“The building of new homes will have the added bonus of supporting local construction industries, providing jobs and the opportunity for new training and skills.”

Leader of Scottish Borders Council, Councillor Euan Jardine, added:

“Tackling some of the key housing issues affecting the region is not something which the Council can do alone, and I welcome the continued input and support from various partners, which was reflected in the meeting of the Convention of the South of Scotland.

“Over many years Scottish Borders Council has supported the construction of thousands of new affordable homes in the Scottish Borders, including through investment of second homes Council Tax income and lending arrangements with local registered social landlords.

“That model of partnership work continues to be used as we all collaborate to address other housing issues in the area, because housing is absolutely critical to our shared aims of growing the population across the south of Scotland, supporting the local economy, retaining young people and attracting people to relocate here.”