'˜Most expensive city' in drive to put more on to housing ladder

Yorkshire's most expensive city, where house prices outstrip average wages by nearly 10-fold, is behind a scheme to put more of its residents on the housing ladder.

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York Council is sponsoring a shared ownership programme which will allow 65 househunters to buy between a quarter and three-quarters of a property and pay rent on the value of the rest.

The programme is being run in partnership with the Government’s Homes England agency, which funds new, affordable housing.

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The average price of a house in York is £263,000 – around £80,000 more than the region as a whole, but average earnings are only slightly higher, at £26,000.

Buyers would need to earn a combined salary of just over £60,000 to afford an 80 per cent mortgage in York – around £20,000 more than in Yorkshire as a whole

Privately-rented accommodation in the city is estimated to be about £300 a month more than in the rest of the county.

Council officials say that high demand and low supply has increased ownership prices beyond the reach of many residents.

Coun Helen Douglas, executive member for housing, said: “We’re aiming to help households buy a share in the home of their choice with the council.

“Offering eligible residents the freedom to choose their own home for shared ownership is a new and innovative approach to delivering more, affordable options.”

The scheme allows buyers to choose a property on the open market and apply to the council for funding, or to pick one of four city centre apartments in Fishergate converted by the council.

Similar schemes are run by housing associations across the country and the Government allows councils to run their own shared ownership programmes.

The terms require applicants to have a combined income of less than £80,000 a year and to not currently own a property.

Homes eligible for the York scheme must be on the market for £200,000 or less and within the city boundaries.

Dilys Jones, Homes England’s regional head of ownership, called the programme an “innovative approach to affordable home ownership making existing and new properties accessible to local people in an area with high property values”.

According to the National Housing Federation, some 200,000 affordable homes have been made available by housing associations in Yorkshire but only 5,300 of them are in York.

In May this year, a survey commissioned by landowners behind a proposed housing development on the outskirts of the city reported that 81 per cent of residents wanted affordable housing to be a priority for the council. Only three per cent said no new development was needed.