York prepares two launch biggest housebuilding programme since the 1970s


City of York Council is proposing extra investment in its biggest house-building programme since the 1970s, following the removal of a borrowing cap.

At a meeting this evening councillors will discuss plans to deliver more than 600 new homes at an accelerated rate, including some 250 affordable homes. This additional and much-needed housing is able to be delivered following the Government lifting a borrowing limit on Housing Revenue Accounts.

The plans include building across eight sites, and propose buying extra land for housing development, acquiring additional affordable housing as well as investing further in older persons’ accommodation.

On those sites, at least twice the minimum affordable homes required by planning will be built, with some sites to be wholly built with affordable homes. They will be a mix of council houses at the lowest available rents set by the Government, and a range of new, low-cost home ownership houses will be created. These will include shared ownership homes where eligible residents can buy between 25% and 75% of their home while paying rent on the remaining proportion.

With shared ownership, a young family with a combined income of between £30,000 and £37,000 could buy a 25-50% entry share of a new three-bedroom house with the opportunity to buy more shares as and when the time is right for them to do so.

The programme is working with the Older Persons Accommodation Programme to help people to live independently for longer. The shared ownership homes can also support older people. They could use existing equity in their home to buy a 50% share in a new two-bedroom bungalow for about £102,500, with monthly rental payments of about £250. Or, they could buy a 75% equity share for about £153,750 and pay no rent.

Removing the borrowing cap comes with the caveat that council borrowing should be affordable, with finances set aside for it to be repaid. In November 2018, Executive approved a revised 30-year HRA business plan which aims to repay the full debt to be repaid over 30 years. Lifting the cap also gives increased flexibility to allow sites to be delivered in tandem.

Cllr Jenny Brooks, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “Lifting the cap means we can make land available more quickly so the new homes can be available for residents sooner.

“As well as meeting general housing need and providing over twice the council homes and low cost properties than planning policy requires, we will ensure that the housing needs of a broader range of York residents are met. This includes those in the most acute housing need, to key workers and young families looking to get on the property ladder, and to older people wishing to downsize.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for adult social care and health, said: “A range of accommodation to allow people to live independently for longer will be built including those for shared ownership or for downsizing.

“The programme will see all homes built to high accessibility and environmental standards in developments which are healthy and sustainable. Our ambition is to create neighbourhoods that are inclusive, improve the lives of both new and existing residents, and stand the test of time.”

The meeting starts at 5.30pm, and is available to watch live online at: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts