A HIGHLAND community has welcomed its first new social housing in the village since the 1990s.

Eight specialist homes have been built in Lairg by Albyn Housing Society (AHS), one of the largest social housing providers in the Highlands, costing around £2.3 million.

Four two-bedroom wheelchair-accessible bungalows and four one-bedroom FIT homes, with stunning views of Loch Shin on their doorstep, have been built in the rural community.

The state-of-the-art FIT homes use sensors to share real-time information with family members, caregivers, or key workers while offering more privacy than cameras.

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FIT technology allows tenants to live independently in their own homes for longer, relieving the strain on social care, which can be difficult to deliver in rural areas like the Highlands.

The high-tech social homes also harness the power of artificial intelligence and were built as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal which housing minister Paul McLennan has called “essential”.

McLennan said: “I am delighted that this development of homes and specialist accessible properties, which was supported by £1.27 million of Scottish Government investment, has completed.

“These homes will have a positive impact on the community in Lairg, allowing people to safely live in their own homes for longer.

“Good quality housing is essential to attract and retain people in our rural communities.

“Our commitment to deliver 110,000 affordable homes, of which at least 70% will be for social rent and 10% in our rural and island communities, is backed up by our Rural and Islands Housing Action Plan.

“Demand led funds such as the £30 million Rural and Island Housing Fund and the Rural Affordable Homes for Key Workers Fund are key elements of our approach to addressing specific rural housing issues where they arise.”

The National:

As well as building new houses AHS also maintains existing homes and provides support services to more than 3800 properties in 70 rural communities.

The completion of the four one-bedroom houses in Lairg means there are 33 high-tech FIT homes across the Highlands, including in Nairn, Dingwall, and Inverness.

Kirsty Morrison, chief executive, said AHS has invested around £6.9 million in building the 33 Fit homes which includes £3 million directly from the City Region Deal.

Morrison said: “A lack of social care provision is an issue right across the country, but this is especially acute in the Highlands because of demographic changes and fewer social care workers.

“Our Fit homes mean residents can live in their own home, independently, for longer and often help them remain in their local community too.

“This is such a help in rural areas like Lairg where alternative social care provision can be very far away.

“This achievement not only grants independence to our tenants but also offers their families peace of mind.

The National:

“Our development is the first social homes to be built in the area in almost 30 years which will mean fewer people are forced to move away for adequate housing.”