YORK council has come under fire for planning policies which opponents say are driving builders away and compounding a housing crisis in the city.

A report published last week by housing charity Shelter showed York to be the least affordable place in Yorkshire and the Humber for young families trying to buy their first home.

The charity's research showed that only one percent of homes up for sale in York would be affordable for a family on the average wage, and at the time council leader James Alexander called the revelations proof of York's housing crisis.

Now the city's Conservative councillors have blamed the situation on Labour planning policies which until recently insisted on 50 percent of all new housing be affordable.

But Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing is the Labour cabinet member for homes and safe communities. She has hit back at the Tory criticism, which she said focuses on a policy that does not exist - the 50 percent affordable target.

The party leader on the city council, Cllr Chris Steward, said “For most of its administration Labour has insisted on hobbling house building in York with doctrinaire requirements that developers provide unrealistically high numbers of affordable housing on development sites.

"The irony is that rather than providing more homes, including affordable housing, this merely resulted in developers not finding it economic to build, with the bottom line being pitifully little housing being built at all. Only recently have Labour back-pedalled on this requirement, but the damage has well and truly been done."

His council colleague Joe Watt, who is vice chairman of the local plan working group, has used to figures to call for a realistic Local Plan to solve York's housing problems, rather than what he claims is Labour's undeliverable "deluge" of housing which will overwhelm existing communities.

Cllr Simpson-Laing said: "The Conservatives cannot be honest with residents and simply say that their housing policies seek to drive those who cannot afford York's high housing costs out of the city.

"Our local plan ambitions will begin to address some of the problems of low housing supply, rather than what the Conservatives would have which is keeping house prices high for those who are fortunate enough to own their own home."

With elections next year, voters now have a clear choice with Labour the only party with housing policies on the side of people struggling to afford to buy or rent a home in York, she added.