Scarborough borough councillors back plans to form company to deliver hundreds of affordable homes

Scarborough councillors have backed plans to form a new company to deliver hundreds of affordable homes across the borough.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 9:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 9:22 am

Councillors made the in principle decision in order to address the shortage of high-quality housing as part of its Better Homes project following a debate yesterday.

The full council approved the spending of £348,000 to create a joint venture which would see the formation of a company which would be owned equally between the council and another organisation.

This could be a housing association or another registered provider.

Scarborough Town Hall

It would fund the construction of the new homes, sell them on completion and potentially buy suitable land from the open market.

At the meeting, the Labour leader of the council, Cllr Steve Siddons, said that the council had to come up with an “innovative and creative” approach to housing delivery.

He said: “Let’s remind ourselves that for many working families the prospect of a decent home is just a pipe dream.

“With the average house price in the area between six and eight times the average wage, buying is clearly not an option and affordability of housing remains a key challenge for many people living and working in this borough.

“We all know that in any decent community making sure everyone has a decent home to live in has got to be a high priority.”

A number of council-owned sites potentially suitable for housing in Filey, Whitby and Scarborough including Eastfield, have been identified, the majority of them classed as public open space.

More than 700 comments, the vast majority objections, were received during a public consultation on the sites with many of them relating to planning issues.

Each parcel of land will require planning permission on an individual basis before it becomes part of the joint venture.

The borough is facing an affordable homes crisis and double the number currently being built need to be constructed between now and 2038 if demand is to be met.

This means 3,300 are needed in a 16-year period.

The average salary of £27,000 in the borough means a first time buyer will need seven times their earnings to buy their own home.

The joint venture was not universally welcomed at the full council meeting.

Conservative deputy leader, Cllr Heather Phillips, said that her group had “absolutely no issue with affordable housing being provided” but felt that the scheme on offer was not the way to do it.

Addressing the cabinet member for Inclusive Growth, Cllr Liz Colling, Cllr Phillips said: “Can I just say, deliver deliver deliver.

“Give us a deadline when you are going to deliver but not with this model.

“I know this is going to sound strange but I do not think you are being ambitious enough.”

Cllrs Mike Cockerill and Glenn Goodberry both objected to parcels of land under consideration in their respective wards of Filey and Whitby.

Cllr Sam Cross, leader of the Yorkshire Coast Independents Alliance, also offered concerns on the use of the council-owned land.

He said: “I think one thing that we do forget, is that eight of these 10 sites are public open spaces and in these current Covid times people want public open space.”

Cabinet member Cllr Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff from the Independent Group cautioned that the council needed to address the issue.

She said: “The fact is that the private market is not going to deliver the affordable housing that our residents need.”

The cabinet approved the spending of the £348,000, which will be recovered from the joint venture, by 22 votes to 12 with two abstentions.