North Yorkshire Council defends ’embarrassing’ housing strategy

North Yorkshire Council has defended its strategy to tackle North Yorkshire’s housing crisis, insisting the consultation which shaped it was “comprehensive and robust”, following an opposition group declaring it “an embarrassment” and criticism from a former local government ombudsman.

The authority’s executive has pushed forward its housing strategy for the coming five years, which sets out objectives, targets, and policies to meet ambitions such as building 500 new council homes over the next five years, developing temporary accommodation for the homeless and developing 800 affordable homes a year.

A meeting of the authority’s leading members at County Hall saw the strategy pushed forward for adoption at the next full meeting of the authority in May after considering responses to a consultation over a draft version of the strategy.

Calling on the council to defer approving the strategy, Anne Seex, a former local government ombudsman, told the meeting the council had been left “trying to make the best of it” following an inadequate consultation which featured “a lack of information”, leading to a poor response rate.

She highlighted how many responses had commented adversely about the lack of a definition of affordable housing, a lack of relevance and statistics and a failure to recognise the different needs in areas across North Yorkshire.

An officer’s report to the committee revealed while some respondents believed the draft strategy to be “a well thought through document that clearly sets out the council’s aims and objectives”, numerous others were scathing, describing it as “a fairly broad-brush aspiration” or “really vague”.

One respondent wrote: “The vision is all motherhood and apple pie and lacks specific but important commitments on, for example, the issue of holiday and second homes.”

Ahead of the meeting, the council’s Labour group said the consultation had  attracted responses from just 0.09 per cent of the county’s adult population and elected representatives were denied the opportunity to properly consider the draft strategy when it was brought before one of the council’s scrutiny committees.

Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Steve Shaw-Wright said: “It shouldn’t take the public to point out the obvious requirement for a strategy to contain basic information about the assessment of what housing is needed in which areas.”

Responding to Ms Seex, Councillor Simon Myers, the authority’s executive member for housing, said the consultation had taken in a wide range of views from numerous organisations and individuals across the county.

He said the draft strategy had referred to many key issues, such as second homes and holidays lets and the concentration of private rental properties in some areas.

Coun Myers told the meeting the authority had undertaken a mid-consultation review and thereafter worked to increase responses from certain groups and it was considered the consultation had been “comprehensive and robust”.

He said overall more than 500 responses had been received, 70 per cent of which agreed with the vision.

Coun Myers said: “We do accept that further work will be needed to build our data and evidence bases. However, that is reflected and built into the strategy going forward.”

1 Comment

  1. A moratorium on second homes will put many affordable houses on the market . The properties that people buy to use as holiday homes or rentals are exactly the type of houses our young people could use ,allowing them to live and work in the county.

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