Pledge to build Helredale houses

AFFORDABLE Housing will be built at Helredale regardless of how long it takes, housing bosses have vowed.

In an exclusive interview with the Whitby Gazette, Bill Miller, the director of operations at Yorkshire Coast Homes said the organisation was 100 per cent committed to delivering affordable homes for the people of Whitby.

He said the delays to the project, being caused by objections from residents who are trying to have the site classed as a village green, were “frustrating”.

Although Yorkshire Coast Homes (YCH) has been granted planning permission for 105 homes at Helredale playing fields and St Peter’s Road, it doesn’t legally own the site.

It has delayed starting until all the legal issues surrounding the village green application and court hearings have been resolved to avoid the risk of having to take the houses back down “brick by brick” if a decision was then to go against YCH.

Mr Miller said: “Yorkshire Coast Homes are committed to delivering these affordable homes for the people of Whitby, irrespective of the timescale. Whether it takes a year, two years, three of four it does not matter to us we will continue with this.

“What we won’t do and what we have said all along is, we won’t undertake any works until the whole legal side has been concluded. We have always maintained that stance. Any legal issues in terms of the development are out of our control. That would sit with Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), they are the current owners.”

Delays have meant that funding allocated to the Helredale project by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) will be allocated to other projects instead.

When the Helredale scheme does get off the ground, Mr Miller said it is likely it will be paid for using YCH’s own funds as it is part of the 30 year business plan. He added that YCH would also be able to access other funding streams.

He said: “It would be nice to get the funding to do this and we had approval, however, because of the current situation it just means we have to re-route that funding to other areas later.

“We don’t want people to think that if this funding goes we won’t do it - that is not the case. What it does mean is that Whitby people won’t get the benefit of us going in quicker to start these works.”

A housing strategy carried out last year indicates that Whitby has the highest house prices in the borough and 84 new homes need to be built in Whitby each year to meet demand for housing.

That is compounded by the fact that on average 52 bids are made for each Yorkshire Coast Homes property that becomes available.

As well as providing new houses, the scheme would see out of date flats on St Peter’s Road demolished and replaced and new play areas created.

Mr Miller added: “I find it frustrating for the vast numbers of people that are on our waiting lists and for the Whitby people in need of a home.

“It is a basic right that other people have got and we are looking to provide them with a number of affordable homes within their local community.”