Affordable homes can breathe new life into a community

From: Neil Tristram, Millcroft Homes Limited, White Lion House, Main Street, Blidworth, Notts.

YOUR columnist GP Taylor’s recent observations on Runswick Bay are largely correct and Richard Cole’s response (The Yorkshire Post, December 8) completely misses the point.

GP Taylor was merely highlighting the fact that most local people simply cannot afford the inflated house prices now being paid in the coastal and national park villages by second home owners.

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According to his letter, Richard Cole and his colleagues claim to have done a lot for the village. From what I have witnessed, their actions appear to have had little regard for the housing needs of local people. In partnership with Broadacres Housing Association, in 2010, we decided to take action by applying for planning permission for affordable housing on our land in Runswick Bay.

Over 200 letters were submitted by the Runswick Bay Nimbys in opposition to our scheme. Some even suggested that our development would introduce crime and create social division. Extracts from their letters included the following remarks: “There will be an influx of totally unsuitable people”; “We do not want people living on benefits in Runswick Bay” and “This type of housing is not in keeping with the area”.

Whilst residents of housing association properties are generally less well-off than the typically rich and wealthy property owners of Runswick Bay, this does not mean it is their fault or that their financial status is caused by any personal flaw, for example laziness, alcoholism or moral degeneracy.

We fought long and hard to overcome the social prejudice from Runswick Bay residents in order to secure the necessary planning consents and defeat a vain attempt by this select group of well off people to segregate themselves out from the rest of society.

Despite the opposition of over 95 per cent of the property owners in the village, eight affordable homes have recently been completed and handed over to new tenants, all previous parish residents.

Those who opposed our scheme should now hang their heads in shame. Hopefully, these new homes will breathe new life into the community and the new residents will be welcomed by their wealthy and privileged neighbours.

We believe that affordable housing is about equality, enabling local families to enjoy 
a fair share of basic resources and not be disadvantaged through a lack of well-paid employment.