York's Labour-run council accused of backtracking on 100% affordable housing pledge

Opposition councillors have accused the Labour-run City of York Council of backtracking on its pledge to build 100 per cent affordable housing on council land.

The Liberal Democrats claim that Labour’s policy has evolved to building 100 per cent affordable homes on council-owned property unless it’s sold the land to private developers and they build on it instead.

Coun Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat group leader, has suggested that because Labour’s budget includes £800,000 that would be made from the open market sale of council land, it contradicts the original pledge made by Labour before the party was elected into office in May 2023.

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Coun Chris Steward, the Conservative group leader, said: “It does sound like Labour is retreating from its plan to build 100 per cent affordable houses on all council land sold for building.

Michael Pavlovic. Image credit: City of York Council Michael Pavlovic. Image credit: City of York Council
Michael Pavlovic. Image credit: City of York Council

“If it is, then we welcome what is yet another u-turn as naive manifesto hopes hit the reality of council work.

“The council should always act for the whole city and it was always an absurdity that a prime city centre site could house a few affordable homes when the large capital receipt could and should have given many more houses elsewhere.”

Executive member for housing Coun Michael Pavlovic said: “Not all council land assets are allocated for housing development, including the sale of buildings that are retained once sold.

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“Liberal Democrats’ suggestion that all council land sales must result in housing development is ludicrous and not even legally deliverable.

“Residents will however see a marked difference between the old Liberal Democrat administration and Labour in the sites brought forward as part of the council’s housing delivery programme.”

Coun Ayre said: “It was also Labour’s policy for all homes built on council-owned land to be affordable.

“But now it seems that land will be sold to the highest bidder, regardless of whether or not the homes built on that site will be affordable.

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“Liberal Democrats have been very clear that Labour’s previous policy position would risk stalling many projects and would actually result in fewer homes - and fewer affordable homes - being built overall.

“Maybe this is why Labour have quietly dropped their 100 per cent affordable homes policy from their budget.”

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