Call for ‘re-think’ over where next the generation will live

Graphic: Graeme Bandeira
Graphic: Graeme Bandeira
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BUILDING homes on green belt sites to tackle the housing crisis should not be ruled out, according to experts.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) has issued a plea to councils, developers and the public to “re-think” the way they treat proposals to ensure demand does not continue to outstrip supply.

Residents have been urged to put themselves in the position of prospective homeowners struggling to get on to the property ladder, or people identified as in ‘housing need’ before objecting to any applications for housing.

Daniel Klemm, external affairs manager for the NHF in Yorkshire and Humber, said: “This is a crisis which has been building up over the past 40 to 50 years.

“Is it right that we still have a green belt which was designed in post-war Britain?

“We need a different approach. I am not saying we should concrete over Yorkshire’s green and pleasant land, and there are good reasons why land is protected, but people need to think rationally about developments if people want their children and grandchildren to have a place to live.

“Obviously plans for housing developments can be an emotive issue but you tend to see the side of those who are objecting, and not the person in need.

“People need to think ‘what if that was my child’. It impacts on everyone.”

Yorkshire-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation, one of the UK’s largest social policy research charities, believes it is young families and professionals are the worst-affected by the lack of affordable homes.

It has echoed the NHF’s call for politicians to recognise the urgent need to build houses in Yorkshire.

Housing and policy manager Kathleen Kelly said: “We need to think about where the next generation is going to live.

“This crisis has been decades in the making, there is a responsibility on all of us to solve it.

“Housing is so important to all of us. When your situation is fine it allows you to get on with other things, whether it be work or education.

“But I don’t think we need to take much more land to meet the need for housing, there are plenty of sites sat there doing nothing.”

As the Home Truths report sheds light on the disparity of house prices in each area, Mr Klemm has highlighted the importance of building the “right kind” of homes to suit the needs of each city, town and village.

While the average house price for the region - £159,180 - is below the national average, some have average prices of over £200,000.

In areas such as Richmondshire and Ryedale the average house costs almost ten times the average annual income, which is why both organisations have called for a dramatic increase in the number of affordable homes.

Mr Klemm said: “In Yorkshire each area is so different. It’s not just house prices but large variations in unemployment rates, from 13.5 per cent in places like Hull to 4 per cent in Ryedale.”

While many developments have promised ‘affordability’ in proposals, many have failed to deliver in recent years.

“One of the problems is that in 2006 when the market was doing very well, when some might have committed to more affordable housing that what we have seen built,” he added.

“Developers will try it on a bit because higher-cost homes deliver a higher profit margin.”

The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust has formed a partnership with developers to build 500 homes on the eastern outskirts of York, 40 per cent of which it says will be ‘affordable’.

Ms Kelly said: “For us it’s really important that we build high-quality, not only do people have to be able to afford them, they have to want to live there too.”