THE council is looking for an architect to design homes that will be a “joy to live in” as it embarks on its biggest housebuilding programme since the 1970s.

In January City of York Council bosses announced plans to build more than 600 homes at sites across the city in the next five years. Forty per cent of the housing will be affordable homes as part of a bid to make it easier for healthcare workers, teachers and people on low-incomes to get on the housing ladder.

Shared ownership schemes would mean first time buyers could put down a deposit as small as £1,750 on a one-bedroom apartment.

And the authority is now inviting agencies to design developments as part of the tender process.

Cllr Jenny Brooks, executive member for housing, said: “We want a competitive element to the tender to tease out agencies’ creativity, as well as to source the highest technical standards. We’re anticipating some high-quality submissions to help us deliver 600 homes including family homes, apartments and bungalows, to help meet the city’s needs. I’m delighted by the significant levels of interest in this project.”

A council spokesman said the homes should be “healthy, a joy to live in and stand the test of time” as well as environmentally sustainable.

And architects should also aim to keep bills down for residents through the design of the homes. They added that thoughtful designers should look to help communities socialise, spend time outdoors and connect with neighbouring areas through footpaths and cycleways.

Cllr Carol Runciman said: “We want to build homes which give the occupants room in which to grow and thrive, and which are fuel-efficient and attractive. We want them to be in settings which help connect and bring communities together and which respect and enhance the existing area.”

The closing date for the first step is February 26 and anyone keen to apply should visit and search for reference code DN379215.