YORKSHIRE council chiefs presiding over the sharp end of the country’s affordable homes crisis have been criticised after pushing ahead with plans to charge up to £40,000 for any new property built over a certain value.
Richmondshire District Council is set to step up plans to seek financial contributions for affordable homes provision from new housing developments, as part of its Local Development Framework set to be voted through as interim policy by members on Tuesday.
The policy, which has come under attack from former leader of the Conservative administration Coun Fleur Butler, could also include any building that changes use to a residential dwelling.
However Richmondshire District Council chiefs claim it is an extension of current policy to demand an affordable homes provision on developments of four houses or more, and a charge would only be implemented “if financially viable” and could be a lot less than the £40,000 used by the local authority as an example in the LDF.
“This could lead to the destruction of any private housing being brought forward in Richmondshire at all,” Coun Butler said.
“Rather than loosening planning rules to allow for more homes to be built, it is tightening and levying a punishing tax on any body who dares to build a private home in a rural area.”
Latest figures from the National Housing Federation have shown that the average property price in North Yorkshire is £209,903, while the average annual income is just £18,933.
The problem is most acute in Richmondshire.
Coun John Blackie, the leader of Richmondshire District Council, said: “What we have to remember is the acute problem in Richmondshire of providing affordable housing for people who live and work here.
“Particularly in the rural areas of Richmondshire we know there is a huge and worsening problem of providing affordable housing.
“There has to be a way of financing that now central Government funding is much more restricted.”
As many as 14,000 people are currently on council waiting lists for affordable housing across North Yorkshire.