SOCIAL rented housing in Govanhill is the answer to transforming the area's slums.

That was the message from community groups and local councillors as they welcomed a possible funding boost of £34million for the south side.

In a move that will be debated at executive committee on March 2, the Scottish Government has offered £20m to buy up housing in the area.

This would be enhanced by £14m from Glasgow City Council, if councillors vote to go ahead with the proposal.

The £34m will fund a four-year programme to buy up to 350 homes in the area to be factored by Govanhill Housing Association.

Local councillor Soryia Siddique said: "Regenerating Govanhill and improving living standards for residents in Govanhill is a priority.

"Govanhill is a pressurised area, known for concentrated areas of private lets and lack of factoring in some properties.

"The further financial commitment to the acquisition programme is a significant step in bringing an increase in social rented property in the area and lasting change."

The investment will build on the South-West Govanhill Property Acquisition and Repair Programme - a pilot scheme targeting four blocks in which many of the flats had fallen into disrepair.

As first told in the Evening Times, a total of 124 flats have been brought into housing association ownership so that vital repairs can be carried out.

This was against an original target of 80 and funded with £7.8m of Scottish Government money and £7.1m from Glasgow City Council.

The scheme was aimed at tackling rogue landlords and met criticism when it emerged some 40 per cent of flats were sold by owner occupiers.

Annie Macfarlane, vice chairwoman of Govanhill Housing Association, said: “This four-year funding commitment recognises the need for a longer-term approach to tackling the issues that exist in the area. "Of the 124 housing association properties bought to date, over 60 per cent are from private landlords.

"This reflects our successful efforts to take housing into the social rented sector, while also maintaining existing tenancies.

“As a community controlled and owned association, we will continue to work with local people, involving them in the programme to ensure we achieve its aims – better living conditions in the area, reduced overcrowding and more effective property management and maintenance.

"The long-term approach needed in Govanhill requires continued support from the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council.”

Frances Stojilkovic, of the Govanhill Community Campaign, said local people will welcome the news but momentum must be maintained.

She said: "People in the local area will be pleased but it feels like the approach to Govanhill is to do a wee bit here and a wee bit there when it needs a long term, targeted plan.

"Hopefully this will work. It has to work but they need to do the whole of Govanhill to get it out of the hands of rogue landlords and then keep on top of it.

"They also need to make sure that the owner occupiers who are selling are getting enough to let them move and that they have somewhere suitable to move to."

Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government and Housing, said: “The acquisition and repair scheme, which ran as a pilot and focussed on four blocks, has proven to be a great success.

"Evaluation of this project has shown that, in a relatively short period of time, significant progress has been made.

“However, it’s clear that more work needs to be done in this area and that is why I’m delighted that we’re able to invest £20 million to support a wider programme of improvements across the Govanhill area.

"By working together with Glasgow City Council and Govanhill Housing Association we can continue to make real improvements to the lives of the people who live here.”

Send us your thoughts: will this funding pot finally transform Govanhill?

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