Park rethink over huge shortfall in affordable housing

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AFFORDABLE housing targets are due to be revised after major shortfalls for critically needed homes have emerged in a blueprint for development in one of Yorkshire’s national parks.

A management plan for the North York Moors National Park spanning the next five years has included key details for the number of affordable homes that need to be built each year.

Concerns have now been raised, however, that the targets fall way short of the numbers needed to address a lack of affordable properties within the national park.

Scarborough Borough Council has claimed plans to build 10 affordable homes each year up until 2017 need to be revised dramatically. A study into North Yorkshire’s housing needs has identified an annual target for as many as 135 affordable homes in the North York Moors.

The national park authority’s director of planning, Chris France, stressed the targets set out in the management plan, due to be launched in March, were for a minimum of 10 affordable homes a year. But he admitted he believed the numbers outlined in the draft plan, which is currently out for consultation, will need to be revised.

Mr France said: “We recognise that affordable housing remains perhaps the biggest issue facing the national park, and we are making every attempt we can to solve the problems.

“But people do need to realise there are some very specific issues about development in national parks, and we have to operate within these constraints.”

Policies have been in place in the North York Moors National Park since November 2008 to ensure that half of all housing developments are specifically affordable homes for local communities.

But the economic downturn forced the national park authority to revise the policies at the end of last year, and now only 40 per cent of dwellings in housing developments have to be affordable homes.

The need for affordable properties is seen as vital to helping preserve local communities amid an intense demand for second homes.

But Mr France acknowledged one of the biggest hurdles the authority faces is overcoming local objections when attempting to find suitable sites.

National park officers meet villagers in Runswick Bay on Monday to discuss concerns after the biggest outcry they have witnessed over an affordable housing scheme. The proposed development for eight semi-detached houses has prompted more than 60 objections.

Figures from the National Housing Federation have shown that in North Yorkshire, which is the region’s most desirable location, the average cost of a home is £223,065, while the average wage is less than £20,000.

paul.jeeves@ypn.co.uk