Aberdeen sets gold standard for new council housing

The quality of new local authority housing in Aberdeen is set to be among the best in Scotland after councillors agreed to adopt the building industry’s gold standard. 

The design specification requires energy efficient technologies that make homes greener and cheaper to run; enhanced sound insulation; increased natural light; improved security; dedicated space for working or study; and storage for an electric wheelchair, pram or bicycle. 

Aberdeen City Council’s City Growth and Resources Committee today agreed the new standard as part of an ongoing programme to deliver 2,000 additional council homes in conjunction with developers. 

Committee convener and Council Co-Leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden said: “Adopting the gold standard means our future housing stock will help meet the aspirations for people, the place and the economy spelled out in the city’s Local Outcome Improvement Plan.  

“We want to deliver homes that support the physical and mental wellbeing of our tenants by satisfying their current and future needs, helping them become more self-sufficient in the long term.  

“Once again Aberdeen City Council is leading from the front – investing in social infrastructure to create sustainable integrated neighbourhoods that will be among the finest in Scotland.”  

In 2018 the Council resolved to bring forward business cases for a total of 2,000 additional local authority homes, the biggest building programme in more than half a century. 

The programme has been regularly reviewed to determine the changing legislative and building standard landscape within Scotland and the United Kingdom to ensure that future housing delivers against emerging standards.  

A series of workshops were held last year with key stakeholders – including the NHS and the University of Aberdeen – to help determine how Aberdeen could future-proof housing to achieve sustainable living goals.  

The new standard will be promoted to the marketplace and shared with contractors bidding for work. The Council will also ask for quality external environments, the current fastest internet access, and electric charging points.  

The committee also agreed that where the gold standard cannot be achieved within a specific development site, the silver standard must be delivered as a minimum.  

Gold standard homes aim for a minimum 27% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to Silver, partly through using renewable energy to provide 50% rather than 5% of hot water demand. 

Councillor Lumsden said: “Gold standard housing will have a marginal increase in upfront costs but will help reduce maintenance expenditure over the years.  

“However, the real payback will come from quality of life improvements – the provision of a place where a child can do homework, room for an electric wheelchair, a reduction in fuel poverty. 

“Meanwhile, despite budget challenges, the Council remains committed to upgrading our existing housing stock and enhancing community facilities for residents across the city.”