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Proposals to Get York Building

house of the week

6:26am 7th February 2013

Proposals aimed to help kick start stalled developments and increase the number of new homes built in York will be taken to the Local Plan Working Group for comment today and then taken to Cabinet on Tuesday 12 February for approval.

Cllr Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council, said: “City of York Council plays a key role in unlocking developments that can be brought forward, which is why we’re launching a new initiative called ‘Get York Building’, which will provide much needed more sustainable homes, help the local economy, unblock the house building market, provide a much-needed boost to employment, reducing benefits dependency whilst creating a knock on impact in the wider prosperity of the city.”

Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Adult Social Services and Cllr Dave Merrett, Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability, said: “One of the clear priorities through the Get York Building initiative is to develop and invest £1million into much needed new and existing council homes and bring sustainable development forward quickly.

"This is sending out a clear message to tenants, residents, developers and businesses that the council is listening to their needs and is actively working to meet the city’s growth aspirations and housing requests. The new Local Plan will play a pivotal role in developing this initiative and another paper will be bought to Cabinet in April outlining the York Local Plan preferred options.”

The current levels of house building in the city have fallen dramatically from a high in 2005, the city’s population growing and the demand for new and affordable homes is increasing, say City of York Council.  

They add that developing a balanced yet active housing market that offers choice, flexibility and affordable housing is critical to the economic and social wellbeing of the city and getting house building moving again is crucial for the city’s economic growth.

Since the change in the affordable housing target to 25 per cent on Brownfield sites and 35 per cent on Greenfield sites and more recent changes on rural sites, development applications have been coming forward and been being approved, say the Council.

However, to meet York’s housing needs and growth aspirations the council must actively facilitate more major developments and unlock the potential of existing stalled sites, they add.

City of York Council say that if approved by Cabinet, the council recommends that members agree to:

  • Update the Affordable Housing Targets and approve the new ones as a material consideration for Development Management purposes;
  • Accept on sites of less than 15 homes in rural areas, an off site financial contribution in lieu of on site affordable housing, for a period of 18 months and approve as a material consideration for Development Management purposes;

City of York Council also says that it is considered that these updated targets and the allowance of an off site financial contributions will help stimulate development and send out a clear message to the house building industry that the council is responding to market conditions. City of York Council also adds:

  • Agree a first phase of building new council homes:

"A clear priority for the Get York Building initiative is to bring sustainable development forward quickly.  Utilisation of council land assets to deliver much needed social rented homes presents an opportunity to play a leadership role in kick starting new development. This first phase of new council house building will see between 50 – 70 new homes delivered".

  • Invest £1m in addressing overcrowding in existing council homes:

"Demand for affordable housing is high and, as well as building new homes, making best use and extending existing homes for larger families is also part of the new thinking".

City of York Council also says that members are also being informed that work is on going which will be subject to further reports in the coming months, areas of work are:

  • Carry out a wider review of our approach to S106 obligations:

This review will look at all issues pertinent to S106 contributions including i.e. nature of payments, timing of payments etc. to make it easier for developers to bring forward new sites, say the council.

  • Work up options to facilitate a mortgage advice scheme:

They add that development of this scheme will provide access to mortgage advice as part of the wider developers core sale package giving confidence in the market and addressing demand uncertainty due to low mortgage availability.

  • Consider options for attracting Institutional Investment into the city to provide new homes for market rent:

City of York Council say recent announcements from government have made available up to £200m nationally to bring forward developments as exemplars for attracting institutional investment into residential development.  They add that opportunities for attracting funding from the money are being considered.

As part of the council’s desire to generate development opportunities and to significantly boost housing supply in line with National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), a recent call for sites was undertaken to identify land which may have potential for development over the next 15-20 years, say City of York Council.  They add that the consultation ran for six weeks and generated almost 300 individual site submissions from a variety of landowners, agents, developers and members of the public.

These sites, alongside others previously indentified from the 2008 call for sites, Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and Employment Land Review - totalling 688 parcels of land - will be considered, subject to a suitability assessment, say the council.

They add that the work will be completed in February and will be consulted on as part of the Preferred Options Local Plan report, which will go before Cabinet in March.

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