Criticism as ‘affordable’ Wensleydale houses valued at up to £320k

Sharon Graham, North Yorkshire Council Housing Strategy Manager, Helen Fielding, Richard Foster, Amanda Madden, Rural Housing Enabler, and Graeme Newton, at the development.

Properties built as part of a flagship affordable housing scheme in Wensleydale designed to enable young people to get an “all important first foot on the property ladder” have been valued at up to £320,000, it has emerged.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is facing criticism over the scheme with community leader and local families saying the shared ownership properties at The Hornblower Court development in Bainbridge, the cost of which averages at £278,000, are in no way affordable and have done nothing to ease the housing crisis in Wensleydale or the national park.

The development in the highly protected area was only given consent on condition that it delivered affordable housing.

Under the scheme, potential buyers wanting a 25 per cent share in a £320,000 end of terrace three-bedroom property would pay a weekly rent of £126.92 while also paying off their £80,000 contribution.

The £320,000 figure is the open market value of the most expensive home – what the home would be marketed at if it was a normal private sale.

However, the maximum share anyone can buy in the first instance is 75% – this would involve a mortgage and deposit for £240,000 and a rent of £42 per week.

If a customer subsequently wanted 80% ownership, this would require a mortgage/deposit for £256,000 plus a weekly rent of £33 per week.

The homes are being marketed under shared ownership following the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority being threatened by a neighbouring resident to the site with High Court action over its decision to approve the original scheme, which saw the most expensive property priced at £196,000.

In 2019, averting potential huge court costs, the park authority conceded £196,000 was not affordable for many local residents and started working with Broadacres Housing Association on an alternative scheme.

After the house prices were revealed, Bainbridge residents described the development as a missed opportunity to stem the departure of young people from the area.

One resident, whose name is withheld, said: “How can a house that was not affordable at £196,000 for 100 per cent ownership become affordable when it now costs £320,00 for 80 per cent ownership? It absolutely stinks.”

Upper Dales councillor Yvonne Peacock added: “How can anyone local possibly afford to live in them?

“If the park authority had gone ahead with the original scheme the houses would have cost up to £124,000 less than they do now. When challenged they were not brave enough to stand their ground and by members’ convictions.

“The original affordable housing scheme was passed twice, unanimously, by members and after a resident threatened a judicial review they backed down and went for affordable housing through shared ownership and look what we are left with.”

Member champion for sustainable development at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Richard Foster, said the authority was examining how it could ensure a range of affordable housing tenures were available in its forthcoming Local Plan.

He said: “We are in a desirable area and it does price the lower end of the market out.

“These houses may not be affordable to everybody, but hopefully there will be locals out there who can afford these houses.

“It is not affordable in the purest sense of the word, but it is making a type of housing affordable for people who can’t afford because they live in a national park and have a job in a national park.”

Broadacres’ director Helen Fielding said the housing association fully understand many local people in rural parts of North Yorkshire found it difficult to buy a home in their home communities because prices are so high, particularly in the national park.

She added: “Our shared ownership homes at Bainbridge offer people with a connection to the area the opportunity to buy as little as a ten per cent share in their home, in the first instance, for just £24,000 and then pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share.

“This means that people can get that all important first foot on the property ladder with a smaller initial deposit and in future, if their circumstances permit, they may buy additional shares in their home, further reducing the amount of rent they pay on the unsold share.

“We know how important it is to rural life for local people to find suitable homes in the communities they grow up in, and we’re committed to helping people find their forever homes close to family, friends and work.”


  1. He [Richard Foster, member champion for sustainable development] said: “We are in a desirable area and it does price the lower end of the market out. . . These houses may not be affordable to everybody, but hopefully there will be locals out there who can afford these houses.” Yes, Mr Foster, I think we can be sure there will be locals “out there” who can afford them. They just won’t be the sort of people they were intended for, ie those who work hard, often for pathetically low wages. It won’t be a “desirable area” much longer if people who do the real work, as opposed to the “enablers” and “champions,” can’t afford to live there. Simple really when you think about it.

  2. I spent the first 13 years of my life living in a rented farm house on the hills above Askrigg and remember the Yorkshire Dales National Parks being formed. Over the years all they seem to want is more and more visitors to come in to the area which has over the years just driven most of the local people out of Upper Wensleydale. They really have something to be proud of ?

    If only most of the council houses hadn’t been sold off then the younger people would have been able to rent one today and work in the local area until they one day later in life maybe able to move on and buy a house or just be happy working in the area and continue renting and working in upper Wensleydale.

    What a mess this all is now.

    After the war every thing was in a mess and one thing they did to help sort it all out was to get local people in to work in there area was by employing some of them to build council houses so people could afford to pay the affordable rents for a good house with a bathroom and gardens etc for there families.

    Maybe this is the way forward today. Forget about people buying houses. The councils etc need to build some houses in this area with affordable rents for local people then maybe later in life they maybe able to buy there own.

    Something needs to be sorted soon, before it’s to late to save our wonderful Wensleydale. Don’t just sit back and see it all go just because of greed.

    Please please someone up there get to grips with this before it’s to late.

    • I’m one of the thousands of people who will agree with you on this, Denis, and let’s hope they bear the origin of the problem and the solution in mind at the time of the forthcoming General Election. Just because this constituency has been Tory for more than 100 years doesn’t mean it has to continue to be.

  3. Just remind me-who is the local MP for your area-should not he be fighting your corner,I guess that is how he got his seat in the first place-on promises?


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