800 homes plan for York is ‘not enough
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 800 homes a year in the York area are "wholly inadequate" to meet future housing needs, a planning and property expert has claimed.
City of York Council'sruling Labour administration set a target of 800 homes per annum last year when it amended the Local Development Framework (LDF) core strategy.
The previous Lib Dem administration had originally set a target of 575 homes per annum and opposition parties claimed Labour's changes would put York's green belt at risk.
Now Eamonn Keogh, a director of planning consultancy Turley Associates and chairman of the York Property Forum, which is part of York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, has hailed Labour's move as "courageous".
But he said work recently carried out with Cambridge Econometrics, using the "Chelmer housing forecasting model", had indicated even the figure of 800 was wholly inadequate and would not even cater for the city's naturally generated housing needs.
Writing in Estates Gazette, he said the Chelmer model allowed them to quickly consider "what if" scenarios for future housing requirements.
"Assuming no migration, the natural population growth in the district over the next 15 years will give rise to a requirement for around 930 dwellings per annum - significantly above what the council has planned for," he said.
He said York was likely to continue to experience in-migration for the foreseeable future, giving rise to a housing requirement even higher than 930.
"The Government's population projections suggest the figure could be in the region of 1,300 houses per annum."
The council's Tory group leader, Coun Ian Gillies, said the immediate challenge was to build houses on the available brown field sites in the city, and review the situation in five years, while Green leader Andy D'Agorne said the priority should be to bring empty housing back into use to meet the need for affordable housing.
Labour's cabinet member for housing, Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, claimed the previous Lib Dem administration "effectively accepted that significant numbers of people would be homeless, but as long as development didn't happen in the outer areas, that was okay". She said the 800 figure was arguably still lower than it needed to be. Liberal Democrat leader Coun Carol Runciman said any increase in housing figures above the current proposal would inevitably result in more building on greenfields. She said: "Local people and their quality of life should be at the centre of plans for York's future development.
Originally published in the York Press 24th January 2012
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