600 new homes for York as borrowing cap lifts

The plan aims to deliver new homes at an “accelerated rate”, including some 250 affordable homes.

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City of York Council is proposing extra investment in its biggest housebuilding programme since the 1970s, following the removal of the borrowing cap.

600 homes are planned, 250 of which are proposed to be affordable, with this additional housing set to be delivered following the government lifting a borrowing limit on Housing Revenue Accounts (HRAs).

The Council’s Executive will be asked on 17th January to approve plans to allow the construction of more homes than originally planned.

These include building across eight – rather than seven – sites and proposals to buy extra land for housing development, acquiring additional affordable housing as well as investing further in older persons’ accommodation.

On those sites, at least twice the minimum affordable homes required by planning will be built, with some sites to be wholly built with affordable homes.

They will be a mix of council houses at the lowest available rents set by the government, and a range of new, low-cost home ownership houses – including shared ownership homes where eligible residents can buy between 25% and 75% of their home while paying rent on the remaining proportion.

In terms of shared ownership, under the scheme, a young family with a combined income of between £30,000 and £37,000 could buy a 25-50% entry share of a new three-bedroom house, with opportunities to buy more shares as and when the time is right.

The programme is also working with the Older Persons Accommodation Programme to help people to live independently for longer, as shared ownership homes can also support older people.

Removing the borrowing cap comes with the caveat that council borrowing should be affordable, with finances set aside for it to be repaid.

In November 2018, the Executive approved a revised 30-year HRA business plan that aims to repay the full debt to be repaid over 30 years, with this lift of the cap also providing increased flexibility to allow sites to be delivered in tandem.

Cllr Jenny Brooks, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “Lifting the cap means we can make land available more quickly, so the new homes can be available for residents sooner.

“As well as meeting general housing need and providing over twice the council homes and low-cost properties than planning policy requires, we will ensure that the housing needs of a broader range of York residents are met.

“This includes those in the most acute housing need, to key workers and young families looking to get on the property ladder, and to older people wishing to downsize.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for adult social care and health, added: “A range of accommodation to allow people to live independently for longer will be built, including those for shared ownership or for downsizing.

“The programme will see all homes built to high accessibility and environmental standards in developments which are healthy and sustainable.

“Our ambition is to create neighbourhoods that are inclusive, improve the lives of both new and existing residents, and stand the test of time.”

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