LONG-AWAITED plans to see much-needed houses built on the former sugar beet factory site in Boroughbridge Road are significantly closer after a surprise breakthrough at a planning inquiry. Yesterday, British Sugar – which owns the site – and planners at City of York Council came to an agreement on the level of affordable homes which will be built on the 42-hectare site.

Originally, British Sugar was reluctant to commit to building affordable homes on the plot because the costs of decontaminating the land were too great.

But the council was determined that some affordable housing should be included in the scheme for 1,100 homes – and refused the planning application.

Matters came to a head at the public inquiry, which began on Tuesday and was expected to last two weeks. But proceedings came to an abrupt halt yesterday when both sides agreed a compromise – that some affordable housing would be built on the site. The agreement is for at least three per cent, but this figure is to be reviewed with the possibility of more being added.

This amounts to just 33 affordable homes for York – which seems a paltry sum, and much less than what the council would expect from a brownfield site development.

But the land will be expensive to clean-up, and surely it is good news that British Sugar is now committed to providing some affordable homes there. Unfortunately, it will be many years before the homes are ready. In the meantime, York’s housing problems continue.