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Affordable homes row erupts at City of York Council meeting
8:18am Thursday 6th September 2012 in News
A TORY councillor stormed out of a meeting after York’s controversial affordable housing policies were left off the agenda.
Coun George Barton said he left the Local Development Framework (LDF) meeting in exasperation at a “lack of urgency” from Labour chair Dave Merrett in tackling the city’s affordable housing crisis.
He said a Conservative proposal for City of York Council to reduce the percentage of such homes demanded from developers had been referred to the committee from full council, and he had expected it to be debated at the meeting, which was held earlier this week at the third attempt, after twice being cancelled.
But Coun Merrett criticised the councillor’s “prima donna-ish” departure, and said it was unrealistic to expect the issue to be discussed as soon as this week’s meeting. He said officials had been asked to carry out a comprehensive investigation into not only affordable housing quotas, but also other costs facing developers, such as Section 106 planning agreements, and this could not be done properly in one and a half months during a holiday period.
The proportion of affordable homes the council should demand from developers has been subject to increasing debate in recent times, with critics claiming many schemes are failing to go ahead because the percentage is too high.
A Conservative motion to full council urged the authority to adopt a 10/10 policy, under which only ten per cent affordable homes would be demanded in developments of more than ten properties.
Coun Barton claimed: “There’s a total lack of urgency or interest in tackling the city’s affordable housing crisis from Labour. They were more interested in dormer bungalows at the meeting than this pressing issue.”
But Coun Merrett claimed the lack of house-building was caused by factors such as difficulties in obtaining a mortgage and concerns that people might lose their jobs in the current economic crisis. He said planning permission had been granted for hundreds of properties to be built in York, on which work had not started even though there was no affordable housing requirement.
Developer John Reeves, of the Helmsley Group, said affordable housing was needed now, without further prevarication and delay.