A MILLIONAIRE Labour Lord has blamed the introduction of a rent freeze by the Scottish Government for his decision to put “on hold” a £1 billion housing project.

Lord Willie Haughey had previously announced his intention to build 11,000 homes for “young hard-working families” in an attempt to help with the housing crisis.

However Haughey stated that the houses would be for rental only because “the whole idea is that renting is better than having a mortgage – you can save equity in cash over the month rather than having bricks and mortar.”

The homes were slated as being around 1200 square foot and costing £695 a month, and would be built over the next 10 years.

But speaking on the radio show he hosts with fellow entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter over the weekend, Haughey said that the plans are now on hold.

Firstly, he said that his brick supplier had informed him that prices were increasing by 28% and that the skyrocketing cost of building materials contributed to the decision.

He then went on to blame tenant’s rights minister and Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie for spearheading the bill through parliament.

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He said: “There is no incentive whatsoever to try to make a difference.

“Patrick Harvie’s rent freeze is a big part of my decision. The housing market is in absolute crisis and without any plans on how to address it that crisis can only get worse.

“Patrick Harvie will go down in history as the man who stopped investment and added to the calamitous lack of housing we have in Scotland, 100%.

“Don’t take my word for it – the housing associations are calling for it [the bill] to be scrapped.”

He also took aim at the minister’s support for replacing old gas boilers with air-source heat pumps.

“Patrick Harvie stands up in the Scottish Parliament waxing lyrical about heat pumps, sounding like he is reading from a brochure from a heat pump company,” he added, before inviting the minister on the show to debate the rent freeze and heat pumps.

However, tenants' rights movement Living Rent said that Lord Haughey’s decision to wait for more profitable conditions to invest in building property was exactly the kind of thing that contributed to the housing crisis.

Meg Bishop, secretary for Living Rent, told The National: “The alternative to no eviction ban and a rent freeze is huge rent increases and tenants being forced from their homes this winter.

Without government regulations, many tenants across Scotland would be forced between housing and eating.

“It is not the dream of any tenant to be renting for the rest of their life. Being caught in the rent trap does not beat owning a property, nor is it cheaper per month as Lord Haughey seems to suggest.

“On the contrary, research after research shows that it's often cheaper to have a mortgage than to rent privately.

“There is clearly a dire shortage of housing and Lord Haughey’s decision to stop developments whilst he waits for more profitable conditions is exacerbating it.

“Let’s be clear, developers who cry that they can no longer make wild profits should not be what the government cares about when tenants are suffering.

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“Tenants and people across Scotland need housing now. People having a place they call home should not rest on the decisions of huge property developers.”

In 2007, Haughey tried to transform a disused farm he bought in Lanarkshire for £300,000 into a 28,000 square foot baronial country mansion.

The design similar was similar to that of the White House in Washington DC and was said to be over half the size of Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

However, the plan was rejected by the Scottish Government because of the land’s placement in the greenbelt.

The Scottish Greens have been contacted for comment.