Only 107 new affordable homes completed in York last year

The York Council continues to perform poorly in the provision of affordable homes in York.

It has steadfastly refused to buy on the open market despite having a £15 million balance on its housing account.

In total, 345 additional homes were provided in the City during 2013/14. During the first 6 months of 2014/15, 235 homes were provided.

Housing completions 2014

click to enlarge

York Council homes sold under “right to buy”? (New Council homes completed)

  • 2010/11 = 10 (0)
  • 2011/12 = 6 (0)
  • 2012/13 = 24 (19)
  • 2013/14 = 53 (0)
  • 2014/15 (up to 1/12/14) = 39 (18)

Number on housing waiting list.

  • 2010/11 = 3294
  • 2011/12 = 3972
  • 2012/13 = 4692
  • 2013/14 = 2306 (eligibility change)
  • As at 20/01/15 = 1462

Over 2000 planning applications for housing have been approved during the last 18 months, with the vast majority for “brownfield” (previously developed) land

Liberal Democrat housing policy can be read here

Modern York City centre flat for sale for only £110,000

Picture 2

Hungate flat available on “shared ownership” basis

Estate agents Churchills are offering a rare opportunity to buy a 56% share in a modern two bed roomed flat in the new Hungate development. 

The property is offered for sale through a Yorkshire Housing Association Scheme with the full purchase of 56.72% of the property.

The scheme does have conditions and can only be bought by an owner occupier who has local links to the area either currently working or living locally or has family in the area.

The Lease/Service Charge is £447 per quarter.


Affordable homes in York…. Council report adds to confusion

Under the last Labour Government Council house building reached a, post second world war, low.

Under the last Labour Government Council house building reached a, post second world war, low.

Following our article yesterday,  on section 106 affordable homes and other infrastructure requirements, the Council has now published a working group report on the issue.

The report talks only of “rural sites” of 10 homes or less being affected.

The government guidance however refers to all small sites.

We think that it is time to try something new to stimulate the house building market in York. The government guidance offers an opportunity to do that. If 800 additional homes were built each year, then inflationary pressure on house prices would reduce- benefiting everyone. 

We do also need more affordable homes in the City.

The Council should change its policies and buy up empty properties in the City and add them to the rental pool.


York house building numbers prompt criticism

 Government acts to encourage more small brownfield development

Local developers have criticised the York Council Leadership as house building numbers have stalled in the City. Figures released by the “Centre for City’s” reveal that the number of new homes built last year was among the lowest in the country.

housing completions in York

housing completions in York

Although the figures are disputed by Council planners, there is no doubt that building work has been slower over the last couple of years than might have been expected as the country emerged from the recession.

The number of sites granted planning permission has increased over the last  2 years meaning that there is a potential supply of land sufficient to allow around 800 additional homes to be constructed each year during the next five years.

Small developers claim that onerous S106 restrictions (which include a requirement to make a contribution towards the supply of affordable homes) are preventing a start being made on some sites.

House price trends in York click to enlarge

House price trends in York click to enlarge

The government has now intervened and announced that there will be no affordable housing requirement on sites of 10 or less homes.

Full details of the announcement, made last month, can be found here. Click

It has been suggested that the York Council should “fast track” the change and reduce the S106 requirements immediately.

An increase in the numbers of homes coming onto the open market would have the effect of stabilising house prices which are showing signs of increasing in York (having been level for the last 8 years)

Average house prices in different York neighbourhoods click to enlarge

Average house prices in different York neighbourhoods click to enlarge

Stable house prices do benefit first time buyers.  

However, additionally, the York Council should proceed more quickly with the provision of additional low rent social housing.

At present the York Council has a surplus of nearly £13 million on its (Council house) rent account.

The Centre for City’s report will be discussed at a Council meeting next week

Government boost for brownfield housing in York

York central site among 29 nationwide to be shortlisted for financial help.

York central site

York central site

Campaigners seeking to protect York’s Green Belt have welcomed a government initiative which could accelerate the development of housing on the York Central site.

Papers released on Friday suggest that it may be designated as a “Housing Zone”

Development of the site (behind the railway station) has been stalled since the start of the recession in 2008.

In 2011 the then LibDem led Council agreed a Local Plan which would have seen 1780 dwellings built on the site which enjoys excellent transport links and a full range of services within walking distance.

Although the Labour led Council has since tried to pare down that number, the government scheme could provide a big boost.

Most housing zones are expected to be big enough for between 750 and 2,000 homes. Successful bids were submitted by councils working with developers> They were invited to bid for a share of £200 million for infrastructure and land remediation to get their ideas off the ground.

Successful zones will  have access to cheaper borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board and priority access to expert planning and technical support from the ATLAS service run by the Homes and Communities Agency.

It remains to be seen whether the York site will be one of the 10 finally chosen to benefit from the additional funding.

Since the announcement was made on 8th January there has only been stony silence from the Councils Labour “leadership”.

More details of the scheme can be read on the government web site (click)

No new approach from Labour in York

Those looking for a change of approach from the “new” Labour leadership on the York Council will be disappointed by the content of reports being circulated with next weeks Council agendas.

Having already broken the long standing convention that no party political opinions should be published in Council documentation, both the outgoing Leader and Deputy Leader have produced reports which criticise their opponents or seeking to blame the Coalition for all the ills of the world.

So much then for any attempt at making a fresh start or reaching consensus. Some at least want to continue the confrontational approach which was rejected so comprehensively by electors in the October by-election

Overgrown garage area

Overgrown garage area

One report even seeks to blame the government for a reduction in the number of people registered to vote in the City!

More significantly it continues to turn a blind eye to the deteriorating condition of the infrastructure (right) on many Council estates in the City.

Cllr Alexander sadly has written his own epitaph by claiming “Liberal Democrats want no Local Plan or one that would fail Government requirements” In reality, a Local Plan agreed in 2011 which Labour tinkered with and then withdraw.

Liberal Democrats want a Local Plan which respects both the priorities of the City’s population and which seeks to preserve the unique qualities of the City. Labour’s plan to expand the size of the City by over 20% during the next 15 years satisfied neither of the tests.

Failure to produce a Local Plan which could attract the support of both the Council and the people of the City is a poor legacy to leave to your successor.

How many Labour Councillors does it take to change a light bulb?

Two Cabinet members are to be summoned to a meeting on 11th December to decide whether to include the Punch Bowl in on a list of properties subject to an article 4 direction.

A meeting in October rejected the request even though designation would only require any proposed change of use to be subject to a formal planning application.

The Cabinet members for Planning and for Finance are now being asked to remove permitted development rights by CAMRA who are backed by a 1200 signature petition.

Bus service cuts – no consultation planned

Residents will have to wait until early January before finding out which local bus services Labour plan to cut. A decision meeting would have aired the issue was to have taken place on 11th December. old bus

The issue has now been referred to a Cabinet meeting scheduled for 6th January 2015.

The Council has made it clear that they are not proposing to consult with passengers likely to be affected by any cuts.

New scheme announced to support the most vulnerable rough sleepers in York

On Tuesday 4 November, Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) is launching in York.

Whatever the weather this winter, and to give the most vulnerable rough sleepers safe shelter, on Tuesday 4 November,Arc Light and York Mind are launching Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) in York .

York – Number of residents accepted as homeless & numbers in temporary accommodation at year end
Year Accepted in temp. accom. at 31st March
2003/4 460 242
2004/5 424 259
2005/6 433 233
2006/7 214 207
2007/8 258 209
2008/9 208 167
2009/10 130 79
2010/11 183 94
2011/12 151 93
2012/13 146 99
2013/14 109 80
2014/15 Not available 65


York Council to investigate failings of weed treatment contractors

Weeds 1 York Council 0

Dijon Avenue garage area choked with weeds

Dijon Avenue garage area choked with weeds

The York Council has now acknowledged that weed control in the City in general – and Acomb in particular – has been inadequate this summer.

They are even suggesting that the contractor who was supposed to treat the weed growth may not have been doing the job correctly.

This will come as no surprise to residents with weeds in some streets now over 3 feet tall.

One of the biggest problem areas are the  forecourts of rented garages,

Andrew Waller points out some dumping which he reported on Saturday in the little Green Lane garage area

Andrew Waller points out some dumping which he reported on Saturday in the little Green Lane garage area

which have been badly neglected by the Housing Department.

It is not just weed growth, damaged perimeter fences and poor surfaces that plague the garage areas, many are subject to dumping.

Time, we think, for the Housing Department to invest some of its £12.7 million surplus in raising standards in our estates.

New community space offers open door to estate

Room 217 has opened its doors for the first time to provide housing and support services right into the heart of the community.

Situated on Lindsey Avenue, Holgate, the office forms part of a parade of council-owned shops. With two interview rooms, a small kitchen and a larger, flexible space for a variety of uses, this space breathes new life into a previously a vacant shop unit.