Coastal communities facing up to mounting housing crisis

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A BLUEPRINT to address critical housing shortages on the Yorkshire coast is being drawn up as senior politicians admit they are facing the biggest challenge to address the problem in more than a decade.

The housing strategy spanning the next four years is being prepared by Scarborough Borough Council in the hope of preventing homelessness and providing vital support to the elderly and most vulnerable members of society.

The council has set out a target of delivering 482 new affordable homes by 2015, and grants totalling £7m from the Homes and Communities Agency have already been used to provide 149 properties in a series of nine developments in the two years up until 2011.

But the Government’s austerity drive is compounding the affordable housing crisis across the nation, and Scarborough Borough Council has acknowledged that the effects of Westminster’s swingeing cutbacks will be felt along the coast.

There is due to be a dramatic reduction in investment in affordable housing projects nationally from the £8bn which was spent between 2008 and 2011 to just £2.2bn in the four years up until 2015.

A consultation has been launched in the Scarborough borough and will run until the end of October to glean the public’s views to help shape the draft housing strategy, which has been approved by members of the council’s cabinet.

The council’s cabinet member for housing, Coun Bill Chatt, said: “The scale of the challenges that are happening recently in housing are the most radical I have experienced since becoming a councillor in 1999.

“I welcome the draft strategy and action plan that has been developed to address these challenges. Housing is important to everyone and I urge anyone who is interested in housing to respond in the consultation. We need people’s input to ensure that we get this strategy and action plan right for our community.”

While the average household income in the borough is just under £17,000, the average property price stands at about £159,000. However, house prices soar to as much as £240,000 in the area’s property hotspots, such as the fringes of the North York Moors National Park.

Scarborough Borough Council has also admitted the Government’s new welfare reform changes will significantly affect tenants in social and private rented housing.

There are concerns across the nation over how the overhaul of benefits will impact on the unemployed and low income households. The Yorkshire Post revealed yesterday that hundreds of householders in York had sought expert advice from the city council amid fears that the reforms will see them lose their homes.

Details of the consultation can be found on Scarborough Borough Council’s website at www.scarborough.gov.uk/consultation which includes an online survey.

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