Secret land deal at “Lowfields Green”

The Council has revealed that it has done a deal to sell 0.74 acres of land to Yorspace at the Lowfield school site.

The land is located next to Tudor Road and is expected to accommodate a high-density development of 19 houses and flats. The communal living style model involves people purchasing shares in a “Mutual Home Ownership Society”.

A report, made public only after a decision had been taken says, “It is a high-density development, to reflect its sustainable objectives, and will also include a community building which can be used for events, as well as some shared outdoor communal areas and growing spaces. As part of the groups green objectives, they are aiming for around 1-1.5 parking spaces per house. The site will be constructed using a variety of environmentally friendly materials and processes, possibly including straw bale and solar”.

The report also says, “As part of the agreement they may also take on the management of the growing spaces and some green areas of the Lowfield site and will run them for the wider community’s benefit”.

The council is refusing to say how much the land will be sold for nor will it say what the market value of the land is.

It is clear that a substantial discount has been negotiated.

It appears that the Council is not stipulating that the plots should be reserved for use by  local people with a proven need for cheap accommodation (e.g. on the housing waiting list &/or key workers).

Yorspace plans

The Council has already changed its plans for the relocation of the football team which currently uses the Lowfields playing field.

In December, they were supposed to be relocated to Tadcaster Road. Last month the Council said they were considering fencing off Chesneys Field to accommodate them.

That announcement produced a barrage of opposition from the current users of Chesneys Field.

Residents opposed fencing the public open space by a ratio of 3:1 in a recent door to door survey.

The decision to sell off the land to Yorspace  was taken last week by the Councils Director of Health, Housing and Adult Social Care (Jon Stonehouse), at a private, behind closed doors, meeting.

There was no consultation with affected residents before the meeting was held.

Old Manor school buildings set to be demolished

York’s planning committee is being recommended to approve an application to demolish the old Manor School buildings on Low Poppleton Lane.

The planning application, which will be discussed at a meeting taking place on 17th August, also contains details of major changes to road junction arrangements in the area.

The changes are necessary to allow new access roads, to the former British Sugar site, to be constructed.

In turn, this will facilitate the erection of new housing in the area.

There have been relatively few objections to the plan although the Council is being recommended to provide mitigation measures to protect the well-being of the bats that live in the school building.

Some better news for those on the housing waiting list in York

Mean waiting times on the waiting list for those seeking to rent one and two bedroomed properties reduced last year.

In 2015/2016 the median waiting time for a property from the housing waiting list was 259 days

Last year (2016/2017) this had fallen to 222 days

Waiting times for 3 bedroomed properties increased.

Listed below by year are the median waiting times for a property by assessed bed need

2015/16 2016/17

· 1-bed home

277 162

· 2-bed home



· 3-bed home



· 4-bed home 321


By the end of April 2017 the numbers on the waiting list in York for different sizes of property were

  • 1038 applications for a 1 bedroom
  • 642 applications with a 2 bed need
  • 200 applications with a 3 bed need
  • 45 applications with a 4 bed need
  • 5 applications with a 5 bed need

Applicants seeking to rent properties from social landlords in the City should visit the following web site.

Latest Local Plan forecasts 20% growth in size of York by 2032

Papers published for a meeting taking place on 13th July say that an additional 19,000 homes should be built in the City before 2032.

Of the target of 953 dwellings per year, around 80 per annum (10%) have been added in order to make housing more “affordable”.

The papers are coy about where the additional 35,000 residents will come from.

Previous drafts have identified immigration as the main source of new labour, although this seems to be in conflict with the present governments polices. Around 2000 inward migrants have arrived in the City in each of the last five years.

A map of the proposed land allocations can be viewed by clicking here

Proposed land allocations – click to access

Hopes that the identification of more building land at threatened MOD sites (Fulford Road and Strensall) would reduce the pressure to build on green fields sites, like the Lowfields playing fields, have been dashed. Officials are recommending that the additional 1392 homes that could be built there over the next 15 years will simply add to the target housing  completion rate (satisfying the increased annual building target of 953 homes per year).

Average housing building rates in York have been about 700 pa over the last 5 years, although last year over 1100 homes were completed. Most homes built in York over the last decade have been erected on what are known, to the planng world, as “windfall sites”; meaning they were not identified as housing development land in local plans.

House prices and building rates

There are currently 3758 planning permissions for homes which remain unimplemented.

The Local Plan remains vague about how growth of the order proposed can be accommodated without serious -and very costly – improvements in infrastructure (notably, transport and healthcare).


The new proposals have little direct impact for the Westfield area. None of the land between the existing built u-p area and the northern by pass is slated for development.

However officials have changed the proposals for the development of the playing fields at Lowfields. They are incorporating the plans favoured by some Councillors which would see the number of dwellings built increased from 137 to 162.

There were 10 objections to development of the Lowfields playing field (including Sport England) while only 3 representations were made in support of the Councils plans.

Extract from Council report covering Lowfields devlopment




Local Plan – September start for more consultation as MOD land set to be reserved for 1392 homes

 Labour set to oppose building more homes in York

Labour’s Local Plan proposals 2013

York councillors are to be presented with an update on progress with technical work on the Local Plan when they meet next week.

A report will be considered by the Local Plan Working Group on Monday 10 July before it is taken to the Executive on Thursday 13 July.

Councillors will be asked to approve the production of a comprehensive draft plan over the summer, ready for public consultation in September.

This will lead towards the publication of a final plan early next year.

Since the last major update, work has been ongoing to assess the impact of the release of three Ministry of Defence (MOD) sites in York which are to be sold off.

Councillors will be advised the MOD land at Imphal and Queen Elizabeth Barracks could be suitable for future housing development, potentially providing 769 and 623 dwellings respectively. Labour have already said that they oppose providing additional homes on these sites preferring to build on Green Belt land (see left)

The third MOD site, Towthorpe Lines, is not deemed suitable for housing but could be considered for employment use instead.

The Local Plan Working Group and Executive will consider issues associated with how land might be provided in the future for both new housing and employment development as well as setting a long-term green belt boundary for York.

Housing numbers. click to enlarge

The council has already consulted on the local plan ‘preferred sites’.  This happened for a ten-week period in 2016.  Over 2,250 responses were received from individuals, housing developers and stakeholders.

The next step is to produce a full draft plan.  Councillors will be asked to approve this.

It is expected that further consultation take place in September.  Pre-publicity would start in August when details of the proposals would be sent to residents in a special, York-wide, edition of the ‘Our City’ council newspaper.

The results of the consultation will be shared with the working group and Executive in January before a final version of the Local Plan is prepared.  It is anticipated this would be subject to final formal consultation in February 2018 and could be submitted to government in spring 2018.


Lowfields playing field development – self builders sought

Lowfields plans

People wanting to build their own home are invited to drop in to West Offices between 6pm and 8pm on Tuesday 11 July to find out about opportunities at what the Council styles as its “Lowfield Green” development.

The self build site is adjacent to the controversial playing field development which is being opposed by local residents. The self build site backs onto Tudor Road

The Council says that later in July, neighbours of the Lowfield site will be invited to attend a drop-in session at Gateway Community Centre, Front Street, Acomb (Tuesday 18th July between 4.30 pm and 7.00 pm) to see how the proposals have developed since the public engagement last year and in advance of the submission of a planning application later this summer.

There will also be a display of the Lowfield Green proposals at Acomb Explore from 18th July 2017 and the master plan drawing will also be available online.

The Lowfields Action Group is planning to oppose any move to build on the playing fields,. They believe that the Council has misjudged the protection which is afforded by national legislation for green spaces of this sort.

The Council says it wants to encourage self-build housing and in 2016, councillors agreed to include space for self-build plots on the southern part of the former Lowfield School site in Acomb.

This development will include new housing, housing for over 55’s and a residential care home.

This self build event will showcase self-build housing and the planned plots at Lowfield Green.

An application for outline planning permission for self-build homes on this land will be made later this year and the plots will become available in 2018.

Some 90 people who have expressed an interest in creating their own home have been invited to the event to discuss how the council can help, and others are also welcome to attend. Besides conversations with council officers, representatives from YorSpace, the community-led housing group, will be there as well to discuss individual plans, ideas and to listen to views on what interested residents would like to see on their development. YorSpace plans to construct 19 homes with communal space and shared gardens on land set aside for this purpose at Lowfield Green.



More help for elderly/disabled promised by York Council

The York Council will be reviewing the amount of help that it is able to give needy home owners in York when it meets on 19th June.

Recommendations are being made on how increased funding,  totalling  £1.1 million, from the governments “Better Care Fund” will be allocated. This may mean some changes to the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) system.

Up to £30,000 can be loaned or granted to qualifying homeowners to make changes to allow disabled people to continue to live in their own homes. The grants have been means tested in the past but that will no longer be the case fro smaller grants in the future.

Typically the grants are spent on:

  • Facilitating access to and from the dwelling or building by the disabled occupant
  • Making the dwelling or building safe for the disabled occupant
  • Access to the principal family room by the disabled occupant
  • Access to or providing a bedroom for the disabled occupant
  • Access to or providing a room containing a bath or shower for the disabled occupant or facilitating the use by the occupant of such a facility
  • Access to or providing a room containing a WC for the disabled occupant or facilitating the use by the occupant of such a facility
  • Access to or providing a room containing a wash hand basin for the disabled occupant or facilitating the use by the occupant of such a facility
  • Facilitating the preparation and cooking of food by the disabled person
  • Improving or providing a heating system for the disabled person
  • Facilitating the use of power, light or heat by the disabled person by altering same or providing additional means of control
  • Facilitating access & movement around the dwelling to enable the disabled person to provide care for someone.
  • Access to gardens

The scope of qualifying works is now being extended to include hazard remedies (such as excess cold), undertaking electrical repair works to a home where a new level access shower or lift is provided and undertaking an asbestos survey and removal of any asbestos

The Council is also simplifying the application process and hopes to reduce the time interval between applications for assistance being made and adaptations being completed.

A more comprehensive guide to the help available can be found by clicking here




New homes completed in York for downsizing tenants

York’s housing stock has had a boost with eight tenant households looking forward to moving into newly completed council homes.

The two-bedroomed apartments at Fenwick Street off Bishopthorpe Road have been built for tenants looking to downsize to more manageable homes. The aim is to free much-needed, larger council houses for growing families.

Work started at Fenwick Street in spring 2016 by contractor ESH Property Services. The eight flats have been built so that they can be adapted to meet tenants’ changing needs as they age. One has already been modified to meet a new tenant’s requirements.

All will achieve high levels of fuel efficiency through insulation and the highly-efficient heating systems.

Martin Farran, director of adult social care and housing at City of York Council, said: “We have constructed high quality properties to benefit present and future tenants. Not only can they be altered to meet a tenant’s changing circumstances, but the build has created local jobs and important new assets for the city.”

John Doherty, Contracts Manager from ESH Property Services, said: “We are proud of the product the team has delivered and, in particular, the quality of finish achieved. The aspect and views to the rear of the properties are particularly pleasing features and will ensure that these properties remain highly desirable and sustainable for the council moving forward.”

Long time coming but finally York Council set to buy empty homes to ease housing problems

We’ve told the York Council on many occasions over the last seven years that it should use some of the profit on its housing account to buy empty properties on the open market.

Today it seems that action is imminent.

In a media release the Council says,

 “A request for £2.76 million to match-fund a grant allocation to create 65 shared ownership homes will be made to City of York Council’s executive on 18 May.

The funding is being requested from the council’s Housing Revenue Account capital to match grant funding of £2.76m from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The bid to the HCA was made in September 2016 to support the delivery of the homes between 2017 and 2020. With an average grant rate of £42,500 per home, the programme aims to help address the affordable housing needs of the city.

Pending the executive’s decision, the 65 homes – depending on market values – will be bought from the open market and/or from new-build residential developments.

The shared ownership scheme aims to help people in housing need but who cannot afford to buy a home on the open market. Under a shared ownership lease the leaseholder buys a share of the property and pays rent on the remainder owned by the landlord, City of York Council.

Martin Farran, City of York Council’s director of adult social care and housing, said: “Through this scheme, we aim to offer more affordable housing options to people in York who can’t afford to buy, without help, from the open market. It will also increase our interest in housing stock across the city to benefit future generations of shared owners”.

The news comes on the same day as the Council confirmed that there are still 1000 people on the waiting list homes in the York area. Most are seeking a different sized property to rent.

It is unclear how many of them will be able to participate in a shared ownership arrangement.

This is how much it will cost you to take advantage of this scheme