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31 July 2014, 06:11
New towns and communities should be created in Scotland and the private rental sector should be expanded to help avert a potential crisis in the housing market, the Scottish Housing Commission has warned.
The commission, led by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, has published a series of recommendations for the Scottish Government on the future of housing.
It has highlighted continuing problems with supply and demand, including shortages in housing land supply, new housing and rental properties.
The report recommends the Scottish planning system should deliver at least a 100% increase in effective supply of land for development by 2016.
It also encourages the Scottish Government to help deliver six to eight major new communities, which could be formed as new towns, "strategic regeneration'' within existing towns or as extensions to existing growing communities.
It suggests that "the Scottish Government makes an effective private rental housing market one of the key pillars of the future housing system for Scotland''.
The report also recommends that the housing minister - currently Margaret Burgess - should be elevated to a Cabinet Secretary role within the Scottish Government.
Scottish Housing Commission chairman Tom Barclay said: "The imbalance that exists between supply and demand for housing remains an ongoing problem in today's, and potentially tomorrow's, Scottish housing market.
"A substantial increase in land supply for housing would assist development partners in their business preparation, reduce land costs and impact positively on the affordability of housing.
"In addition, scaling up production of new house-building across all tenures is, in our view, an essential aspect in a sustainable housing solution for Scotland.
"By promoting the creation of up to eight major new communities, either as new towns, regeneration of existing communities or as expansion of existing plans, we could make major in-roads in addressing Scotland's acute housing need in the decade that lies ahead.''
He added: "Significant investment in a private rented growth plan for Scotland is required to provide security for the growing number of families and individuals depend on privately-rented properties.''
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government welcomes the work of the commission and the report as a constructive contribution to the debate on how we meet Scotland's housing needs
"Scotland is outperforming other parts of the UK for all completions and this has been the case throughout the 2007-08 to 2012-13 period.
"We are taking action to increase the supply of affordable homes, deliver vital support for the housebuilding industry and support economic recovery.
"Our investment of more than £1.7 billion in affordable housing during the current parliamentary term is helping to deliver our target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes.
"We agree with the report findings that increasing housing supply is vital and will consider the recommendations in developing existing work including the Housing Policy Advisory Group, our response to the Land Reform Review and the work to support the major 18 November housing delivery event.''