More affordable housing needed in Upper Dales, report concludes

Five homes are planned behind the Rose and Crown in Bainbridge.

More affordable housing is needed in the Upper Dales, a review prompted by a legal challenge has found.

The review was commissioned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and Richmondshire District Council following a legal challenge to the building of five new, affordable houses in Bainbridge for local occupancy.

The YDNPA Planning Committee passed a resolution in February granting permission for the new homes, but the development was stalled by the legal challenge brought by the Holmbrae Residents Group.

The group claimed that the need for affordable housing in Bainbridge had not been proven.

They also said the proposed discounted for sale homes could not properly be regarded as affordable.

The review – by the consultancy firm, Arc4 Ltd – has concluded, however, that affordable homes are needed “to support long-term community sustainability” in the Upper Dales.

It also says the proposal to sell the homes at a discount of 30 per cent below market value meets the definition of affordable housing.

The study highlights “the scale of second/holiday home ownership and implicit pressure on existing stock to provide for local residents”.

It says local estate agents note “a definite need for local affordable housing”, and describes all the local residents interviewed as part of the review as being “in need of affordable housing”.

The review found that only seven per cent of households in Bainbridge could afford to buy a house on the open market at current prices.

However, between 13 per cent and 27 per cent of households could afford discount for sale affordable housing.

In concludes:  “Bainbridge is a thriving community but with an ageing population and pressure from second/holiday home ownership.

“It is a community which needs to be sustained through the delivery of new affordable housing.

“This is an issue which extends across the Upper Dales Area.

“The proposed scheme in Bainbridge would follow the successful development of discounted home ownership schemes elsewhere in Richmondshire.

“One scheme is in Leyburn and comprised 12 discounted home ownership dwellings on a 41 dwelling development.

“There was strong demand in the discounted home ownership dwellings available and all were quickly sold.

“The dwellings provided opportunity for lower income households to access home ownership and therefore help sustain a mixed income community.”

The YDNPA’s head of development management, Richard Graham, said:  “The Arc4 report demonstrates that there is an annual need, and a backlog of unmet need, for affordable housing within the Upper Dales area.

“This includes a need for discount for sale affordable housing.”

Despite already approving a resolution to grant planning permission for the Bainbridge development, the planning committee will next Tuesday reconsider the planning application in light of the new evidence in the Arc4 review.

The recommendation is that Members grant approval.

The papers for the committee meeting can be seen here.