Experts pushing for affordable housing as crisis set to deepen

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Housing experts have warned the property crisis is set to get worse and urged developers to push ahead with multi-million pound housing schemes to address a critical lack of affordable homes in Yorkshire.

A £92.5m Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project was announced this week to build 446 new affordable homes in West Yorkshire.

However, concerns have been raised over the housing crisis which is gripping the region and the National Housing Federation claims new construction schemes are vital in preventing the property market from grinding to a halt and securing the future of the economy. The federation’s northern head, Derek Long, said: “It’s essential that we restart building houses both for the families in housing need but also for the economy.

“It’s essential for the housing market to work properly that affordable housing is built in step with new homes for sale that are being built for private ownership.

“Affordable housing, both for rental and sale, has to be built alongside other developments across the housing market otherwise it will just grind to a halt and it will stir up long-term problems for the future.

“The housing market is in a storm at the moment and I’m not sure we have reached the eye of that storm yet.” The major PFI scheme, which was announced on Wednesday, will see 446 affordable houses for rent built on 27 sites in towns and villages across Kirklees. Construction on the first 12 sites will get under way soon, with other sites following in a phased build programme over the next two-and-a-half years.

Kirklees Council’s cabinet member for investment and regeneration, Coun Peter McBride, said: “There are currently around 15,000 people on our housing register waiting for a suitable home.

“We can now begin to address the shortfall of affordable housing we have had in Kirklees for many years and deliver the specific types of homes we know today’s residents – and those of the future – need.”

However, despite a number of schemes being given the go-ahead across the region, developers are being warned they will not be able to shirk affordable homes requirements despite the current state of the housing market.

Last week, York Council’s leader Coun James Alexander raised concerns over an application for an extension of planning permission by a developer for the redevelopment of a 19 acre brownfield site on Water Lane in Clifton Moor in the city.

The original application for the site was granted in 2008, provided 38 per cent of homes built on it were classed as affordable. However, the latest application contends that it would now not be viable to create any affordable homes on the site despite the value of the land rising by almost £1m. Richmondshire District Council leader John Blackie has also spoken out against developers trying to reduce affordable homes requirements.

The Yorkshire Post revealed last month that the mounting housing crisis has left thousands of Yorkshire families homeless as the region’s property prices have increased faster than anywhere else in the country.

The average house price in Yorkshire has risen to £161,466 – an increase of nearly £8,000 in just 12 months – while the average income is less than £19,700. House prices in the region have risen faster than in any other region and almost four times faster than regional incomes in the past decade.

The National Housing Federation’s annual Home Truths report revealed house prices have risen by 136 per cent in Yorkshire in the past decade.

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.

The average cost of a property nationally is £240,033, although the figure is inflated by London and the South-East.

nina.swift@ypn.co.uk