York's crucial local election is now only days away. In the run-up to polling day, Political Reporter Richard Edwards is putting questions on key issues to the leaders of the four largest parties. Today, he asks about York's housing crisis

The question:

House prices in York are continuing to rise with a chronic shortage of affordable housing, particularly for first-time buyers. How do you propose to tackle this?

Dave Merrett, Labour

Labour will tackle this serious issue primarily by:

1) Requiring, through Labour's Local Plan, 50 per cent of all new housing developments that are over 15 units in size to be "affordable".

2) Requiring big developers to provide housing for local families and the elderly as well as singles' and couples' apartments.

3) Working with housing associations to bring on council-owned sites like Osbaldwick, and to bring back living accommodation above shops.

4) Encouraging use of "part-rent part-buy" to help first-time buyers.

We oppose the Liberal Democrat planning spokesperson's view that those who can't afford housing in York should move elsewhere in the region.

Steve Galloway, Liberal Democrats

It is very regrettable that the Labour-led council chose not to purchase social housing on the private market when it was available at cheaper prices. That missed opportunity leaves us with over 4,000 York people seeking housing in the city.

In the suburbs there are many under-occupied homes. These can be released if older tenants have incentives to move to specialist good-quality accommodation near the city centre. We want to reduce the delays in re-letting council houses and bring into use empty property above, or which is part of, commercial premises.

John Galvin, Conservatives

There is no simple answer to this problem; local authorities alone cannot solve it. Measures can be taken to help the situation, such as the use of housing associations and private developers building affordable houses. This will only be successful if there is land on which to build. This means releasing land from the Green Belt as proposed in the council's Green Belt proposals. Affordable housing especially for families cannot easily be provided on brown field sites developed to high density. Affordable family housing should be of the traditional type, ground floor and first floor with some room for a garden

Mark Hill, Greens

Council economic development policies are actively encouraging an influx of affluent employees from elsewhere, fuelling house prices and over-development.

Greens would:

Change the whole economic development process to prioritise local business development and support for local people

Increase the proportion of affordable housing required in most new developments to 50 per cent

Require quality 'lifetime' building design, including energy efficiency, green space and play areas.

To provide much-needed lower cost homes and avoid expansion into wildlife-rich greenbelt, we would support some high-quality, high-density housing and low-rise flats in appropriate locations, prioritising refurbishment over new-build.

Updated: 08:58 Friday, April 25, 2003