A SHORTAGE of skilled construction workers could hit the council's plans to build 650 new homes on sites across the city.

The houses are due to be built on eight City of York Council-owned sites across the city over the next five years.

A council meeting heard the first steps are being taken to create a design guide - prioritising sustainability and good transport connections.

But there may not be enough people with the skills to build these homes, members of the housing and community safety committee were told.

Phil Bixby from Constructive Individuals Architects said: "We desperately need to address the level of building skills if we're going to make improvements to the building stock we have in the city."

At least 40 per cent of the new homes built by the council would be affordable and Cllr Denise Craghill, executive member for housing, said delivering more affordable homes for the city had to be her top priority.

But she hopes the majority of those houses will be zero or low carbon.

She added: "There is a skills gap and this is something that we need to prioritise in terms of developing construction skills for sustainable building.

"It's a barrier all over the country for progressing at the rate that we need to progress."

Cllr Craghill added that she is looking at how more skilled construction workers can be trained in York - including through apprenticeships and courses.

"What we need are people who are trained in sustainable building rather than electricians and plumbers," she said.

Cllr Christian Vassie called for the development of construction skills to be a key part of the council's housebuilding programme.

He said: "I think it is absolutely vital if we're going to be able to deliver this that we have people who can do it.

"It would be a great opportunity for this scheme to have as one of its ambitions to work with, say, York College or whoever to create a series of courses to enable people to learn the skills to deliver what we want.

"Otherwise you end up starting to build and not having anyone who can do it."

The council will spend £150m from the housing revenue account over the next five years on building the new homes.