'Affordable housing' in Harrogate - developers face new pressure

Is there enough affordable housing being built in the Harrogate district?
Is there enough affordable housing being built in the Harrogate district?

Harrogate Borough Council says it’s keen to increase pressure on developers amid concern over whether enough affordable housing is being built.

Coun Rebecca Burnett, cabinet member for planning, said the council was determined to push harder with the help of the new Local Plan.

Coun Burnett said: “It’s important people who work here can afford to live here.

“Once we get the new Local Plan in place, we will be in a much stronger position to put pressure on developers to push down on price and size.

“The big policy push is for more of the new housing being built to be smaller.”

The Government’s national target of 1.5 million new homes by 2022 has put immense pressure on the Harrogate district to play its part.

Madeleine Bell, Harrogate council’s head of housing and property, said fears that new housing developments consisted mainly of large, expensive properties was not borne out by the facts.

Affordable housing: Harrogate 'missing out' claim

“It’s partly a matter of perception. For example, in the case of the new houses that have just been done on Fulwith Mill Lane, we recently handed over the affordable part of the development to the Housing Association.

“Through its planning policies, the council actively promotes smaller, entry level homes for first time buyers and young families. These may be one or two bed homes for sale at market value.

“In addition, 40% of larger sites must be available for households who cannot afford market prices.

“These homes fall into the definition of ‘affordable housing’.”

The definition of ‘affordable’ housing as 80% of the open market price means, in high-value property areas such as Harrogate where the average price is in excess of £300,000, would-be property owners can still it a struggle.

For an area with a large service sector, fuelled parly by tourism, this can have knock-on effects for attracting staff.

But Harrogate council’s head of housing Madeleine Bell believes there is hope.

When it comes to new housing defined as ‘affordable’, she said, potential owners can buy a minimum 25% share of the house with a deposit of only five per cent, and pay a low rent on the remainder.