York’s Conservative-led Executive will vote tomorrow night on plans to build extra homes on council-owned land, which would give the city its biggest public sector house-building programme since the 1970s.
The new plan aims to deliver more than 600 new homes at an accelerated rate, including some 250 affordable homes, to benefit a broad range of York’s residents. This additional and much-needed housing programme can now be expanded be delivered due to the Government lifting a borrowing limit on Housing Revenue Accounts (HRAs).
The enhanced programme will now allow more homes than were originally planned across eight sites rather than the original seven and will include provisions to buy extra land for housing development, to acquire additional affordable housing from new private developments and to invest even further in older persons’ accommodation.
Because these developments will be on council-owned land at least twice the minimum affordable homes required by planning will be able to be built, with some sites to be wholly built with affordable homes. The other sites 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. 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 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 will also dovetail with the council’s Older Persons Accommodation Programme to help people to live independently for longer, as the shared ownership homes can also support homes older people and potentially free up existing homes for young families. Older residents could use existing equity in their home to buy a 50% share in a new two-bedroom bungalow for approximately £102,500 with monthly rental payments of approximately £250. Or, they could buy a 75% equity share for approximately £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, with a range of options to help people access the homes they need.
“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.”