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26 February 2016, 13:30
A £25 million fund has been announced to create 500 affordable homes in the Scottish countryside.
The Scottish Government's Rural Housing Fund is aimed at stopping rural depopulation.
The cash is expected to boost the supply of affordable homes in rural areas during the next three years by helping build new houses and refurbish existing buildings.
The fund is open to bodies including affordable housing providers, community-led groups and private landowners and offers grants and loans to cover the capital costs of housing projects. Individuals cannot apply.
Applicants can ask for up to £10,000 for feasibility studies for developments.
Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced the fund while visiting an affordable housing scheme in Friockheim, Angus.
She said: "I'm delighted to announce this new fund today, enabling up to an estimated 500 new homes to be built or refurbished in rural areas. Good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland's remote and rural communities.
"We know building affordable housing in rural areas presents different challenges compared to urban areas, which is why we are ensuring this fund is open to rural interests, including community bodies, private landlords and landowners.''
Derek Logie, Rural Housing Scotland chief executive, welcomed the move.
He said: "Affordable rural housing is critical to sustaining and developing our rural communities. The Rural Housing Fund has the potential to offer a huge boost to the delivery of affordable rural housing and we are delighted that the Scottish Government has demonstrated its commitment to rural Scotland with this announcement.
"We are particularly pleased that community organisations can apply to the fund and access feasibility support. Developing affordable rural housing has many challenges - we hope the Rural Housing Fund will help rural communities to overcome these and deliver good quality, warm and affordable housing.''