Park authority has “jibbed and jibbed” over West Witton housing plans, meeting told

An artist's impression of the new homes in West Witton.

The number of children at West Burton primary school might not have halved in six years if the housing development at West Witton had gone ahead earlier North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie told the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning meeting on Tuesday.

He pointed out that the site had been listed as being available for affordable housing at the local plan inquiry in 2004.

“We’ve taken 14 years to get from a landowner wanting to contribute to the need for affordable housing to actually getting a scheme on the ground. Is there any wonder that young people are voting with their feet to leave the national park?” he asked.

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He told the meeting that the authority had jibbed and jibbed about how many houses were needed on the site but recently had become more supportive.

He added: “Houses on that site in West Witton are within the catchment area for West Burton Primary School.

“The school has gone down in six years from 44 children on the roll to 22. It may not have been in this position if that scheme had come forward quicker – rather than having to go through the bureaucratic log jam that it has.”

Richmondshire District Council councillor Yvonne Peacock said the Authority’s planning officers had worked with the developer and the district council to make sure that the right application was made.

A planning officer reported that there will be 17 houses of which six will remain “affordable” in perpetuity by always being sold at 70 per cent of their market value. Two others will be affordable rental properties retained by the developer, Swale Valley Construction, and managed in conjunction with Richmondshire District Council as long as the latter provides financial support.

“We do need affordable housing to rent but we do now know we need affordable housing to buy as well. A lot of work has gone into this – we have actually got a perfect site and the perfect application,” Cllr Peacock said.

Cllr Blackie explained that when the Authority had approved the application for a second housing development behind the Rose and Crown at Bainbridge it had set a precedent for discounted market properties for sale in perpetuity at 70 per cent.

“I think this is the way forward if you are going to be able to provide houses to purchase rather than to rent, although there is still a need for housing to rent as well,” he remarked.

Ian McPherson noted that some residents in West Witton had objected to the application but that West Witton Parish Council had supported it.

The parish council had accepted there was a proven need for affordable housing but was concerned that there was no provision for single person accommodation and about the potential for the future development of the field.

It has asked if a matrix sign could be sited at the bend in the A684 at the western entrance to the village just before the entrance to the development.

1 Comment

  1. How Councillor Blackie can say with any conviction that this development would have saved West Burton primary school is frankly ridiculous. Unless he has a crystal ball on who will take up the housing and ages of potential children is no guarantee they would even go to West Burton. Doesn’t it make him think there is good reason it has taken this long, that’s because it’s an ill thought out site which has raised numerous issues. It will in affect increase private housing, no guarantee that they won’t become second homes! Something the Park doesn’t want, there is actually no proven need or tangible evidence and no assurance that local people will even get the affordable homes. It will cause huge disruption and only serves to make money, hit targets and serve self interest. This of course won’t bother Councillor Blackie or the other Councillors as it doesn’t affect them directly.

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