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Scottish public wants more houses

A new poll has found that the Scottish public feels that housing, schools and hospitals should be prioritised ahead of major infrastructure projects like the Forth Replacement Crossing.

The poll commissioned by Scottish Building Federation and the Chartered Institute of Building Scotland found that 39 per cent of more than 1,000 respondents identified investment in Housing as their preferred priority for investment in construction.

Those questioned were asked what should be the Scottish Government’s top three priorities in deciding what it should spend its budget for construction projects on over the next three years.

39 per cent said investment in new housing

25 per cent said building new and repairing existing schools

19 per cent said building new hospitals

2 per cent said the proposed Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route

1 per cent said the Forth Replacement Crossing

Scottish Building Federation Chief Executive Michael Levack said: “If Scottish Ministers were to allow funding allocations for housing, schools and hospitals to suffer because of a determination to press ahead with particular infrastructure projects funded purely through the public purse, this poll shows they would be seriously out of step with what the public wants to see their money spent on.”

“With substantial cuts already inflicted on the affordable housing budget this year, there is a need for a fundamental re-appraisal of capital investment priorities to reflect what the public at large thinks we should be investing in right now.”

The Scottish Government has claimed that major savings have been delivered on the Forth scheme, designed to safeguard the vital cross-Forth connection in Scotland’s transport network, while the AWPR scheme has been hailed as having the potential to unlock massive new investment in Aberdeen (CN, News, 18 August).

The figure of 1 per cent who favoured the AWPR also rose by 20 per cent when those responding hailed from the Grampian region.

CIOB Scotland chairman Ken Morrison said: “I have a real concern that the current funding restrictions are forcing the Scottish Government to try to deliver substantially more with significantly less funding.

“Of course, there is always scope to become more efficient and to cut unnecessary costs, but there is a real risk now of the quality of new build homes and schools suffering in the drive to reduce unit costs.”

A total of 1,003 Scottish adults aged over 18 were interviewed for the poll and were weighted to be representative of the Scottish population by age, gender, social class and location.

A contract was awarded to the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) consortium, comprising Dragados, Hochtief, American Bridge International and Morrison Construction, in April to deliver £790m works on the scheme.

Appeals against the estimated £400m AWPR scheme were rejected by a Judge more than a week ago and the scheme could progress if the appellants do not appeal the decision within 21 days.