Amount of affordable housing at new estate in Yorkshire Dales cut because developers say scheme is 'too expensive'

A controversial ambition to build a Dales market town’s largest housing estate in decades appears to have been dealt a severe blow after roads bosses said they had tried and failed to resolve several serious concerns about the scheme.

Leyburn town centre

North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department has recommended Yorvik Homes’ proposal to build 103 two, three and four-bedroom houses and 24 bungalows off Moor Road, Leyburn, be rejected.

Highways bosses said they had tried to make progress by working with the developer, but the lack of a safe access to the estate as well as difficulties over creating walking and cycling routes and public transport provision “cannot be suitably satisfied”.

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The highways department advice, which is usually given great weight when planning applications are considered by councillors, follows the developer submitting revised plans for Hill Top Farm earlier this month in response to numerous concerns being highlighted over building on the site.

Fears over the consequences of building across green fields uphill from the town which suffered devastating flash flooding two years ago sparked questions over why the site had been designated for housing in Richmondshire Council’s Local Plan.

Despite the concerns, the proposal has divided Leyburn’s residents, with some arguing the town desperately needs more homes to flourish economically and socially in the decades to come.

In their latest submission the developers said the number of homes and mix of house types proposed remained the same, but their initial plan to include 29 per cent affordable housing had been “considered in greater detail as a result of the earlier submission of comments on the application”.

A Yorvik Homes spokesman said: “Given the level of abnormal cost associated with bringing the site forward for development, it is with regret the amount of affordable homes to be provided, has been reduced from that originally intended.”

In response, former Leyburn town councillor Derek Riley said the developers had already shown “disdain” towards the community and its suggestion to “further reduce the number of affordable houses is outrageous in the extreme”.

He said: “If the cost of meeting the vagaries of a difficult and unsustainable site results in ‘abnormal costs’, the applicant should withdraw the application and seek an alternative location for development.

“The original application for 127 houses did little if anything to address local needs and the revised plan again fails to take any account of the community into which it is being imposed.”

Other residents claim the estate would cause devastation to mature woodland, increase danger and disruption to the vulnerable residents in a care home and create potential flooding disasters.

As the site is on the edge of the town and alternatives for footpaths and cycling tracks limited, the developers have proposed a route to the estate through the grounds of a retirement housing complex.

In an objection to the authority Moor Road resident Beatrix Walker said: “The major consideration should be, the impact of a proposed cycle track which would be a danger to the elderly residents of Thornborough Hall Gardens who need their own designated footpath. They are already vulnerable due to age, mobility, hearing and visual risks and the last thing they need is cyclists speeding by on the same path.”