Dispute over plans to build social housing

Property developer Julian Watson, far right, at the Wobeck Lane site, with residents hoping for new social housing in Melmerby. (1303268AM1)
Property developer Julian Watson, far right, at the Wobeck Lane site, with residents hoping for new social housing in Melmerby. (1303268AM1)

A property developer has defended his plans to build social housing in a village near Ripon after local residents labelled the project “hideous”.

Julian Watson, of Wobeck Lane, Melmerby, has submitted a planning application to Harrogate Borough Council to build 12 affordable homes along the land by his house.

In objections submitted to the council about the application – which has been deferred while vehicle access issues for the site are clarified – neighbouring homeowners have said it is a “hideous design for a small estate” and will “impact severely” on the village.

But Mr Watson maintained the new housing estate is essential for people who are already living in the village but are staying in inadequate or expensive accommodation.

“There are people who live in the village but can’t afford to stay here, or people who have ill parents who are already in Melmerby and need their children to live nearby and care for them,” he said.

“It is a destabilising environment for people who are trying to create a home for themselves. It makes it harder for them to keep their heads up high.”

Village residents who would like to see the scheme approved have also spoken in support of the application.

Single parent Aimee Tillett, 24, said she needs a more permanent and stable residence for herself and son Harley, six, after the landlady who owns the house she is currently staying at in Melmerby put it up for sale.

“I was brought up here, my family live here and Harley goes to school here,” she said. “If I can’t get social housing here I would have to move out of the village.”

And Ian Day, 59, and his wife Sandra rely on their son-in-law Richard Davey’s help for their health problems and would like to see him able to move into one of the homes.

“We are in a mess and need our kids up here,” former solider Mr Day said.

But Melmerby resident and Ripon city Coun Bernard Bateman has voiced concerns about the scheme. He said: “The problem is that we are putting social housing here but there are no shops and the buses are very infrequent. The whole point of social housing is that there are services but there is nothing within five miles of the village.”