KEVIN Stewart MSP, the Minister for Local Government and Housing has outlined his commitment to deliver affordable housing at Rural Housing Scotland’s annual conference at Birnam Conference Centre, Perth, recently.
Entitled, 'Home delivery: delivering rural housing across Scotland', he discussed infrastructure, land and planning and affordability obstacles.
Convenor of Rural Housing Scotland, Alastair Cameron, said: “The Scottish Government has made a commitment to build 50,000 houses during this parliamentary term and we look forward to hearing how rural communities will receive their fair share of this investment.” 

Research from Rural Housing Scotland also revealed:

House prices increased faster in rural areas – average rural house prices increased by 85%, compared with 70% in urban areas between 2002-12.
Rural Scotland has half the level of social housing found in urban areas – just 13.5% of houses in rural Scotland are for social rent
Lack of affordability is most acute in areas of rural Scotland – average house prices in Aberdeenshire, for example, are 5.3 times average incomes 
There are fewer first time buyers in rural Scotland – just 38% of rural house purchases were by first time buyers compared with 47% in urban areas. In Argyll, just a third were first time buyers 
One in eight of all housing in remote rural areas lies empty – 7.5% of houses are holiday homes and 5% are empty homes 
Mr Cameron continued: “The scale of the challenge is considerable, with significant barriers to rural housing delivery. However, affordable rural housing is vital to build thriving rural communities and we hope our conference will demonstrate how it can be delivered”.
Debbie Mackay, of Savills, who sits on the Rural Housing Scotland Board, added: “The RHS conference brings together policy makers, on the ground deliverers and everyone in between, to tackle the key issue effecting our rural communities. 
"That is mainly the stark lack of homes which people can afford to rent or buy in rural communities. It is our hope that everyone will go away challenged to do things differently”. 
Housing minister, Mr Stewart, said: “We know that good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland’s remote and rural communities and also that building affordable housing in rural areas presents different challenges than urban areas. 
"This is why we launched the £25m Rural Housing Fund last February, followed by the new £5m Islands Housing Fund to increase the supply of affordable housing of all tenures in rural Scotland and on our islands. I am pleased we have had a high level of interest, with the first homes already complete and others on-site.
“Through the Affordable Housing Supply programme, local authority areas across Scotland have been allocated a share of over £406m in grant subsidy to deliver more affordable homes for 2016-17 – that's £100m more than last year’s allocation. 
"This is the start of our five-year commitment to increasing the supply of affordable homes even further by setting a new target of delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes, including 35,000 homes for social rent.”
Island and rural commentator, Professor Jim Hunter, also took part in the debate on 'rewilding', arguing that rural Scotland needs 're-peopling' first and that housing policy has to support rural regeneration. 
He said: “Alongside wild land, we need ‘people places’, where the landscape and environment is made better by encouraging, not preventing, new rural housing.” 
Also on stage was Alasdair Stephen, from Dualchas Architects, who set out a radical agenda for rural housing and rural development. “We know that a generation feels let down by the housing policy in Scotland and that radical action is needed to allow them to live, love and prosper in their own communities."