Prominent Labour Councillor Tracey Simpson Laing has announced today that Labour is still going for housing growth of over 20,000 during the next 15 years.
She claims that the figure – published in a draft Local Plan which went out for public consultation during the summer – is necessary to meet “demand in York over the next 15 years”.
Residents had expected that the Council would carefully consider the responses from the Local Plan consultation before deciding whether this figure was indeed necessary.
Many residents have said that they do not want the City to expand by 25% in such a short timescale.
Others have pointed out that there will be insufficient jobs to sustain such growth while large areas of the City and surrounding countryside would be blighted.
In a separate development the Council has confirmed that the student housing development, on The Press site on Walmgate, which received planning permission last month, will produce 361 housing units against the total annual target of between 800 (old Local Plan target) and 1200 homes (Labours new target). Most will be 2 person flats.
As the accommodation is tied, none of the units will contribute directly towards providing more affordable accommodation in the City.
The value of Council tenants rent arrears has increased over the last 2 years.
Freedom of information response click to enlarge
The amount owed has risen from £622,763 in June 2011 to £741,570 this year.
3159 tenants are now in arrears
The number of evictions for arrears has also doubled (but only to a relatively modest 14)
42 people presented themselves to the Council last year as “homeless”.
23 of them were subsequently accepted by the Council as homeless.
The figures were revealed through a Freedom of Information request.
There is no record of the council having discussed these worrying trends
An initiative to tackle housing fraud across North Yorkshire is being launched by a regional alliance led by Veritau.
In the past two years Veritau, a company owned by City of York Council and North Yorkshire County Council which investigates fraud within the public sector, has freed over 40 misused properties allowing them to be legitimately let. In addition Veritau has provided information to prevent 15 false applications for housing to City of York Council.
Veritau and City of York Council have now joined forces with eight other social housing providers within North Yorkshire to create an anti-housing fraud alliance. The partners are Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Richmondshire District Council, Broadacres Housing Association, Harrogate Borough Council, Yorkshire Housing, Craven District Council, York Housing Association, and Selby District Council.
This partnership initiative focuses on identifying and prosecuting people who lie about their circumstances in order to obtain a property; tenants who unlawfully sublet their property; tenants who stop living at their property and people who provide false information to gain a property through succession rights.
When the Council announced its preferred list of locations for new Council houses 5 months ago, it refused to reveal which other possible locations had been considered.
Now a Freedom of Information request by Cllr Ann Reid has forced the Council to reveal the identity of the sites.
Green Lane garage site
The sites under consideration were:
• Green Lane garages (Westfield Ward)
• Viking Road garages (Acomb Ward)
• Infill land on Maple Avenue. (Bishopthorpe Ward)
• Infill land to the rear of 21 – 51 Fossway (Heworth Ward)
The sites eventually selected were
Fenwick Street 9 Apartments
York Road, Haxby 4 Houses
Beckfield Lane 27 (Houses & Apartments)
Chaloners Road (Garage Court) 11 Apartments (possibly 8)
Hewley Avenue (Garage Court) 6 Apartments
Newbury Avenue (Garage Court) 9 Apartments
The Planning committee will consider the Beckfield Lane application next week. Thursday, 5th September, 2013 2.00 pm George Hudson Board Room – 1st Floor West Offices (F045)
The application includes 9 “affordable” houses and 9 “affordable” flats. In total 27 units will be built there. There have been several objections to the plans
The York Council is refusing to say when the former elderly person’s home at Oliver House will be brought back into use. The last residents moved out in April 2012.
Freedom of Information questions
Oliver House is located at the end of Priory Street in a prime City centre location near the Bar Walls. It has been valued at over £1 million.
Labour Councillors have refused to explain why the home has not been brought back into use.
It appears that the only occupants were a “secured by occupation” group who – in return for free accommodation – provide a security presence at the site.
York CVS announced in October 2012 an ambitious £1 million plan to house “22 charities” in the building. Media report
The planning application for the project was approved in February. The cost to remodel the building had by then increased to £1.3 million with most apparently to come from ”loans, grants and local businesses”.
It was unclear who would pay for the running costs of the project.
Despite being asked for an explanation of the delays at two successive Council meetings, Labour Councillors have remained tight lipped.
Now a Freedom of Information request has been submitted to the Council. This will force the Authority to reveal its plans within the next 4 weeks.
With over half the people registered on the housing waiting list requiring single bedroomed accommodation, many residents are puzzled why prime sites like these are not being scheduled for residential use ahead of green field sites.
To leave a building like this empty for over 18 months, and apparently with no prospect of occupation for at least another year, is shameful.