Case Study: St. Stephens Development- Blairgowrie, Scotland

Carling Property Group makes history with conversion of primary school into affordable apartments

When Carling Property Group embarked on a project to transform an old primary school in Blairgowrie into private apartments, little did it know it would be making history.

The affordable housing project converted the former St. Stephen’s RC Primary School into seven one-bedroom and a studio apartment. The project qualified for a substantial six figure sum from the Scottish Government’s Rural and Islands Housing Fund, the only private property developer to qualify for RIHF money.

Carling Property Group also worked with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, with SEHP providing support with grant and property applications.

The apartments – let through Perth and Kinross Council-run PKC Lets – filled up quickly, with priority for applications given to those working in the local area, over-55s and applicants with medical needs. They feature secondary glazing, new flooring, private parking and disabled access.

One of the tenants, George Retrick, downsized from a larger property in nearby Rattray, which was proving difficult to keep warm over winter. Said George: “This flat will be easier to keep heated, and it’s much closer to the facilities in the town centre. It’s perfect for me.”

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, which hosts the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership on behalf of the Scottish Government, said:

“The conversion of this former school is a fantastic example of how empty properties can be part of the solution to Scotland’s shortage of affordable homes.

“Particularly in more rural communities it can be much more cost-effective to renovate existing empty homes or convert empty non-residential buildings to housing rather than start building from scratch on a greenfield site.”