A SENIOR councillor has defended plans which will see some homes built on council land in York sold for more than half-a-million pounds – on the grounds they will fund high quality, affordable eco-homes. 

City of York Council is pressing ahead with its plan to build 112 timber-framed net carbon-zero homes, known as Passivhaus homes, on the Burnholme and Duncombe Barracks sites.

The council’s executive committee agreed on Thursday to increase the ratio of affordable homes on the sites from 40 per cent to 60 per cent.

The project will see 69 new council and shared ownership homes built, adding to the 56 currently being delivered at Lowfield Green site in Acomb, as well as others planned across the city.

But Labour’s housing spokesman, Cllr Michael Pavlovic, said it was “obscene” that open-market properties on Burnholme could sell for more than £440,000, while the average price of a house at Duncombe Barracks is likely to be £517,000.

He added: “At the same time we are telling homeless families that they must stay in bed and breakfast accommodation because we have no housing available. 

“Given York’s average wage, it is obvious that these homes are at least in good part, catering to people outside York.

“Whilst we have 1,700 people on the housing waiting list and hundreds in priority need, you say to them and to thousands of other York residents that it’s acceptable to sell the new homes we’ve just built for well in excess of half-a-million pounds.”

Cllr Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and performance, responded: “We continue to tackle climate change by delivering net-zero homes

“That does come at a cost – Passivhaus is important for the future but it is not free and it does add additional cost and that’s something else that’s been factored into the business planning.”

Cllr Ayre said that while he “would love” to build homes for sale for £250,000, such a move would leave a £10 million gap in the budget for the project. 

The homes, to be built by contractors Caddicks, generate as much energy as is needed to heat and power them each year and are very well-insulated, making them very cheap to run compared to the average household.

The council’s director of economy, regeneration and housing, Tracey Carter, added: “We are unapologetic in the fact that the open market sales are subsidising the quality and the volume of affordable housing that we’re able to deliver.” 

The overall design and construction budget for both sites has risen by more than £4.5 million to £37.6 million since 2020, but projected sales will largely offset this due to rising house prices, according to the council. 

Its housing delivery programme is set to deliver 600 sustainable homes across the city, with a minimum of 40 per cent of those being affordable homes.