‘Housing action needed to reverse exodus of young people’

‘Housing action needed to reverse exodus of young people’

New houses in West Witton.

A local authority facing an exodus of young people due to housing shortages and unaffordability will consider how to take action to reverse the trend after revealing a sharp drop in the number of properties built and approved is.

A report examined by the North Yorkshire and York Housing Board on Monday says there are wide disparities in the number of affordable homes being built in different areas.

The report notes that the industry is facing “challenging conditions for providing affordable housing”, particularly outside of Hambleton, Harrogate and Ryedale.

The latest Ryedale affordable housing figures show that the borough has met 120 per cent of its target by mid-year.

However, the same figures for the similarly rural areas of Richmondshire and Craven show only two and four properties completed respectively, compared to targets 71 and 69. Boroughs of York, Scarborough and Selby have all achieved less than 30 per cent of their target for affordable apartments completed.

Mid-year figures show the number of properties granted planning permission in North Yorkshire and York has fallen to 1,567, less than half the number of homes granted simultaneous planning permission in 2020, while in 2019 almost three times as many houses were awarded consent.

A report to the board said the target for mid-year home completions is 3,358, but the number of completions through mid-year this year was just 1,948, well below the volume of homes completed in 2020 and 2021 located.

Councilor Simon Myers, board member of North Yorkshire Planning for Growth, said the latest figures show the scale of the challenge to reverse the county’s age imbalance and boost productivity the new unitary authority faces when it launches on April 1.

He said he was optimistic that with a unitary council and combined agency, the county would have more leeway and resources to deal with the housing shortage, adding that one possible solution is to build on top of the 8,400 council houses that the unitary agency will manage.

Coun Myers said: “It’s poor that across North Yorkshire and York only 43 per cent of the affordable housing we need is being built. There are all sorts of reasons why unaffordable housing contributes to stress and strain in North Yorkshire, including residents’ well-being. We have an exodus of young people that we need to keep and we are not doing enough as local authorities.

“Advisors across the board recognize that this is a really big problem for North Yorkshire. We’ll see how we can help directly. The sites are in the local plans and we must do our utmost to move them forward.”

Richmondshire Planning Committee Chair, Councilor John Amsden said the low affordable housing figures were partly due to delays in several housing developments, but additional developers had not built some developments due to increased costs and falling house prices.

He said the planning committee is acutely aware of the district’s need for affordable housing and has urged to maximize the number of affordable homes at every opportunity and prevent developers from lowering the proportion of affordable housing after they have received land approvals.

Coun Amsden said: “Costs appear to be having an impact on the number of affordable houses that are now being proposed and built and in the Yorkshire Dales National Park the costs are even higher as the plots are not very large. We have the building permits, it’s just a matter of building the houses.

“It took 15 years to build affordable housing in West Witton and the so-called affordable housing that was built in Bainbridge cost £250,000, which is not at all affordable for local people.”

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