Seaside resort’s new homes will tackle affordable housing issue

An MP has praised a decision to push-ahead with Whitby’s largest housing development for decades which he says will address the town’s critical lack of affordable homes.

However, Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill has warned planners to ensure future large-scale developments do not put the picturesque seaside resort’s heritage at risk.

Last week councillors approved plans to build 179 homes on a 15-acre estate on a field next to Eskdale Park, on the east side of Whitby.

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It is believed to be the largest housing development in the town since Barrett built almost 300 homes on Eskdale Park in the 1970s.

Now over 30 years later the new houses, which are also being built by Barrett, along with David Wilson Homes, will see the original estate extended – with 54 homes earmarked for affordable housing.

Mr Goodwill said it would provide houses for people in an area dominated by second homes, which drives up housing prices and ostracises local families.

He said: “One of the major problems in Whitby is much of the existing housing stock has been bought up as a second home or as holiday lets.

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“We have currently a big issue that local people who work in the area and families who have lived in the area for generations have difficulty finding affordable housing to buy or rent. Therefore there will be many people who are pleased there is going to me more housing on the market.

“However, a balance has to be struck between local people who want housing and the needs of those who wish to preserve every aspect of Whitby’s features and the council planners have the very difficult job of striking that balance between the two.

“It’s a big problem and the planners need the wisdom of Solomon to strike this balance of providing homes for people that live and work in the area and preserving the heritage and they need to get it right. However, I don’t think this development will be an example of an urban sprawl spreading into the countryside.”

Despite being welcomed by Mr Goodwill, the decision will come as a blow for residents of Eskdale Park, as well as others living nearby, who have campaigned against the plans.

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Scarborough Borough Council received 47 letters of objection to the scheme and campaigners also spoke out at the planning committee meeting last Friday.

They expressed concerns over extra traffic which would build up in the area, including at a nearby school. They also expressed fears over the impact the development will have on existing homes, extra noise and anti-social behaviour, as well as the impact on the nearby Grade II listed hotel Larpool Hall.

Planners claim the development would only generate 15-20 more vehicles during peak hours and the scheme addressed the severe affordable housing shortage.

Mr Goodwill said: “The lack of affordable housing effects the county as a whole, however it is particularly bad in Whitby due to so many second homes and holiday lets. Probably the largest amount of letters I receive are from local people who are desperate to find accommodation, which is almost impossible.

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“If the houses are well designed and the whole development is sympathetic to the town’s heritage I think it’s important.

“When you have a developer coming in to build homes like this it gives us a tremendous opportunity to make sure there’s housing for local people who want to continue to live in Whitby.”

North Yorkshire’s chairman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, David Clarke, stressed the importance of every local authority adopting a planning blueprint in order to monitor large-scale developments in rural areas such as Whitby.

He said: “If there are people that need affordable housing in rural spaces, we have to find ways of finding these houses – preferably on brownfield sites and within existing towns and villages.”