The York Council won’t use any of its government “New Homes Bonus” payments, housing reserves or developer planning levies to buy homes on the open market.
In total over £10 million is available to supplement rental stocks.
The disappointing announcement came at the last Council meeting when the Labour Councillor responsible for housing (Tracey Simpson-Laing) claimed that empty properties currently on the market in York “are poorly insulated”.
Instead the Council intends to spend around £7 million constructing new Council flats at sites like the former Beckfield Lane recycling centre. These properties are likely to cost around £170,000 each including the value of the building plot (which is already owned by the Council).
The decisions comes at a time when a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the housing waiting list – now amalgamated for the whole of North Yorkshire – has over 2800 applications SEEKING ONE BEDROOMED PROPERTIES.
This is more than half the total number on the list, which has now reached 4600. Many of these, though, have been added since the list was “opened up” and includes people from other parts of the country who want to move to York. It also, for the first time, includes many teenagers who had previously rented accommodation in the private sector, lived with relatives or in shared accommodation .
The only planning application so far made for the new Council houses (on Beckfield Lane) is for 6 two bedroomed and 3 one bedroomed flats. In additional the site will accommodate 6 two bedroomed homes as well as several “for sale” units. Approval of the planning application has been delayed.
Potentially the Council could purchase 70 empty flats on the open market for the £7 million. They would be available immediately to ease the demand for more rented property.
In turn this could free up the same number of larger properties (there are 354 existing Council tenants seeking a move to a smaller property).
And there are bargains around.
A modern two bedroomed terraced property in Birch Copse is advertised for £115,000.
A 2 bedroomed (former) Council flat in St Stephens Road is advertised for £65,000.
As a cash buyer the Council would be ideally placed to secure properties like this.
NB. The latest Council report on “homelessness” in the City concedes that the number of rough sleepers in the York has increased. The quarter 3 submission to government identified 8, an increase from the previous year of 2.
The number of households in temporary accommodation remains high despite a reduction in homeless acceptances and the opening of Howe Hill for Young People. The target for 2012/13 was 85. The final number in temporary accommodation as of 31/3/12 was 99