Housing strategy faces major overhaul to cope with industry

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HOUSING chiefs have admitted that a development blueprint to counter a critical lack of affordable homes would have to be dramatically revised with the arrival of an unprecedented level of new multi-billion pound industry on the Yorkshire coast.

Scarborough Borough Council is drawing up a long-term strategy to map out house-building targets throughout the district which is aimed at constructing hundreds of new homes each year.

Coastal communities in North Yorkshire are facing a massive transition, however, amid plans for a £1.7bn potash mine along with the arrival of off-shore wind farm industry. The largest off-shore wind farm in the world is due to be built off the Yorkshire coast at Dogger Bank, while the potash mine is proposed for a site on farmland to the south of Whitby in the North York Moors National Park.

Senior housing officers confirmed the Scarborough district’s housing targets will have to be revised if the potash mine and the wind farm both become a reality, although they stressed a proposed Local Plan, which will set out development in the area, is being based on current needs.

Concerns have also been raised over the impact that major house-building programmes could have on the North York Moors National Park, which encompasses part of the Scarborough district. The North York Moors National Park Authority has provided a formal response to the council’s consultations over housing need, stating between 300 and 500 dwellings should be built each year.

The authority’s policy manager, Sarah Housden, admitted higher house-building targets could harm the national park’s setting, although she maintained a final decision on policies rests with the council. A six-week consultation on the council’s proposed Local Plan is due to come to an end of December 7.

The borough council’s housing manager, Andrew Rowe, told the Yorkshire Post the number of affordable homes built across the district has “significantly increased” in recent years. Latest figures have shown there were 108 affordable homes completed during the last financial year with a further 100 properties due to be built during this year and 140 more in 2013/14.

However, Mr Rowe said: “The key issue we are acutely aware of is the demand for additional affordable homes.”

He added: “Clearly there may be a potential future issue with regard to the proposed potash mine and the impact this could have on the local housing market and demand for affordable housing. However, an application for this proposal has yet to be submitted or considered. It would be premature and wholly inappropriate for either the national park or the borough council to develop growth strategies or set future housing growth targets on the back of any application that has yet to be determined.”

The Yorkshire Post revealed in January that affordable housing targets were having to be revised after major shortfalls emerged in a management plan for the national park. Scarborough Borough Council claimed plans to build 10 affordable homes each year up until 2017 needed to be overhauled. The park authority’s management plan, which is due to be adopted at the end of this month, now includes a annual target of new 15 affordable homes. While Mrs Housden admitted there is still a “significant gap” between the number of houses that are being built and actual demand for affordable homes, she stressed the authority’s primary aim is to protect the landscapes of the North York Moors.

email paul.jeeves@ypn.co.uk