Proposal to build affordable housing on open countryside postponed amid opposition

A decision on a proposal to build an affordable housing estate on an open countryside site beside a village where a residents’ poll recorded 94 per cent opposition to any development has been postponed.

North Yorkshire Council’s Richmond constituency planning committee heard planning officers had made a late change to their recommendation over the proposal for land off Ainderby Road, Romanby, near Northallerton, to the committee from approval to deferring a decision until next month.

Officers told the meeting the recommendation was mainly due to “a significant change in the tenure mix”.

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The national planning definition of affordable housing incorporates social rent, as well as a range of intermediate rent and for-sale products.

North Yorkshire Council conducted a public vote over the future of Thornton le Dale Parish Council Picture: LDRSNorth Yorkshire Council conducted a public vote over the future of Thornton le Dale Parish Council Picture: LDRS
North Yorkshire Council conducted a public vote over the future of Thornton le Dale Parish Council Picture: LDRS

The Affordable Housing Commission in 2020 concluded “many” of these products “are clearly unaffordable to those on mid to lower incomes.”

North Yorkshire affordable housing campaigners have recently highlighted how the cost of properties offered under different types of affordable housing tenure, such as outright sale, rental or shared ownership, can change significantly.

The Mulberry Homes Yorkshire scheme for 53 affordable homes, including eight one-bedroom properties, on grazing farmland to the west of the village comes less than 18 months after Hambleton’s Local Plan development blueprint was adopted.

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To protect the countryside, the Local Plan states housing developments will only be supported, as an exception, when schemes featuring 100 per cent affordable housing are proposed.

In planning documents submitted to the local authority, Mulberry Homes states its main aim is to provide a good quality, locally distinctive residential development featuring a mix of housing to help meet “a shortage of affordable homes within Northallerton”.

The developer has claimed the area is experiencing “an ongoing and persistent housing affordability crisis”, reinforcing the need to deliver affordable housing now, with some 1,166 active applications in the former Hambleton authority area.

However, numerous residents and Romanby Parish Council have lodged objections, claiming there is “ample housing stock planned and allocated for the years ahead” and questioning whether the village’s infrastructure and services could cope with 53 more homes.

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A officer told the meeting at Northallerton Civic Centre: “The applicant has now switched to 100 per cent affordable housing. That clearly results in a material change to the assessment of the application owing to the completely different reference in the policies for a start.

“There is an ongoing consultation period as a result of that change and our view on the matter is that should be allowed to run and we will then bring the matter back to you in September.”

He said with the consideration that the site was not allocated for housing in the Hambleton Local Plan the access had not been agreed, while there was also an outstanding consultation over the impact on the local road network.

Ahead of the committee unanimously deciding to postpone making a decision, Stokesley councillor Bryn Griffiths said given that consultations were ongoing it would not be safe to reach a decision.