East Lothian Council has updated its Local Housing Strategy (LHS) 2024-2029 following consultation and feedback from the public, key partners and the Scottish Government on the draft strategy.

The new strategy will replace the current LHS in April this year and will be in place until 2029.

The changes were approved at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 30 January, when it was also agreed that the strategy would be reviewed and updated annually, in line with national guidelines, with changes reported through the Members’ Library Service.

The LHS sets out the direction for investment in housing and housing related services across all tenures in East Lothian over a five-year period, within the context of the current financial challenges and growing population. This is a changing situation and the LHS will be reviewed and monitored closely to ensure it is deliverable within the constraints of the financial strategy.

It is the sole strategic document for housing, bringing together a wide range of housing related priorities into one place and enabling a co-ordinated response in terms of action. It plays several important roles, including:

  • Setting out the strategic direction of the council and its partners in delivering high quality housing and related services to meet identified need across the county.
  • Outlining the council’s approach to meeting its statutory housing responsibilities, particularly in relation to homelessness, house condition and fuel poverty.
  • Summarising the response to national housing priorities, i.e. the Scottish Housing Quality Standard; town centre living; reduction in carbon emissions and supporting the development of sustainable communities, whilst also reflecting the priorities of the local area.
  • Demonstrating how housing can contribute to improvements in health and wellbeing, the reduction of poverty and influence the effective integration of health and social care

The proposed strategic vision for East Lothian is that, by 2029, ‘people in East Lothian have access to warm, high quality, affordable homes which meet their needs and enable them to live in communities with the support and services they require.’

To underpin this vision, five priority outcomes have been identified:

  • Communities are supported to flourish, be distinctive and well connected.
  • Housing supply is accessible, affordable and provides a range of choices to meet the needs of households across East Lothian.
  • Homelessness in prevented as far as possible. Where unavoidable, a rapid response with the appropriate support is provided.
  • Housing and support services are effective, accessible to, and will meet the needs of those most vulnerable in the community.
  • All homes in East Lothian are maintained to a high standard, are energy efficient and contribute to meeting climate change targets.

Consultation was carried out to inform the draft, with further consultation undertaken on the draft itself. Measures taken included online surveys, in-person focus groups, drop-in events and multi-agency workshops. In total, over 1,300 individuals’ views were collected throughout the engagement and consultation period, with 75% of respondents agreeing with the strategic vision.

Feedback gathered during consultation on the draft LHS was reviewed and used to reshape the LHS, where appropriate. Changes made to the LHS following the consultation included: exploring the effects of the increased cost of living; focusing on multigenerational households; using the 2022 census results to better understand how race and ethnicity impact housing and health inequalities; and defining ‘key workers’ within East Lothian.

A formal peer review process was also undertaken by Scottish Government policy teams as well as another local authority. This highlighted the strengths of the draft strategy including the wide engagement carried out; good awareness of the private rented sector and challenges in rural areas; and in-depth information on specialist housing provision.

Councillor Andy Forrest, Cabinet Spokesperson for Housing and Property Maintenance, said: “Teams worked hard during the consultation, engaging with the members of the public to ensure they had all the information they needed to feed back and help with developing this key strategy for East Lothian, during a very difficult financial climate globally, locally and for our individual residents. A five-year action plan will support our teams to achieve these priority outcomes, which will make a tangible difference to our communities, in particular our most vulnerable residents. Progress will be reviewed annually.”


Published: Tuesday, 30th January 2024