ONLY seven per cent of homes in the York Central development will be truly affordable for people on low and moderate incomes, a retired town planner has claimed.

Richard Clark said that while 20 per cent of homes planned for the massive site behind York railway station would be classified as “affordable”, only a third of these would be available for social rent.

He said another third would be sold at a discount and the remaining third would be offered for affordable rent - which meant paying up to 80 per cent of the market rate, far more than social rent - or shared equity, shared ownership or rent to buy.

He claimed that because the market levels of rents and house prices were so high in York, the latter two categories were not properly affordable in the city and said that if the maximum possible number of homes was built - 2,500 - only about 170 could end up truly affordable.

However, York Central Partnership insisted its scheme will help ensure people can afford to live in their own home in York, whether by owning or renting a property.

Mr Clark, of York, who has had a lifelong career in public housing and regeneration and received the OBE for services to housing in 2003, said York had some of the most unaffordable levels of house prices and private rents in Yorkshire.

“One would expect that a partnership of public bodies would see this problem as critically important to the plans for the site, not one to be minimised,” he said.

He claimed City of York Council required a minimum of 20 per cent affordable housing on brownfield sites, and expected 80 per cent to be social rent and 20 per cent other tenures.

He said the Government had recognized nationally that developers were using devices to avoid genuinely affordable plans and was trying to tighten up the rules.

He said: “So why in York are the authorities going along with a substandard proposal such as the current one, whilst pretending to make a higher provision?”

Mr Clark also had broader criticisms of the York Central Partnership’s planning application, claiming it failed to capture the potential of one of the most important urban sites in the North of England, which had the immense economic value of the station, and it threatened to “miss a once in a lifetime opportunity”.

He said: “Transport connections here are the envy of every town and city in the region and could attract the good office, professional and administrative jobs the city is losing to insecure and badly paid employment. The redevelopment of York Central could help to reverse this.

“Instead the current proposal is to use most of the site to build up to 2,500 homes.

“This is inappropriate and excessive and will fill most of the site with expensive apartments with high service charges.

“What is certain is that if only a minimal part of the site is allocated to employment uses, there will be insufficient space and flexibility to deliver the jobs and employers that the city needs.”

A spokeswoman for York Central Partnership confirmed the partnership was seeking the three-way split suggested by Mr Clark and said affordable housing was defined as "housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market, including housing that provides a subsidised route to home ownership and/or is for essential local workers".

She said: “This could be in the form of below market rented or other affordable routes to home ownership.

“We are continuing to review the mix of affordable housing that will be provided at York Central through the consideration of the planning application and are in discussion with the council regarding the city-wide strategy for meeting needs in terms of locality, numbers, type and tenure.”

She said social rent was one form of tenure, but there was a housing need that was also apparent in other categories, which was not being adequately met at present.

“The site will therefore deliver affordable housing to help the city meet its housing needs and contribute to the city’s policies to help make it possible for people to afford to live in their own home, whether through ownership or rent,” she added.