Richmondshire community seeks funding for adaptable affordable homes

Affordable timber frame houses that can be adapted to people’s needs as their life situation changes could be built in a Richmondshire village.

Richmondshire District Council’s corporate board has approved awarding up to £325,000 from property developers’ community contributions to the Hudswell Community Charity to build three affordable dwellings at Plews Field, Hudswell.

As the contribution is effectively a grant above £100,000, under local government reorganisation rules it will need approval from North Yorkshire County Council.

Developing affordable housing in rural locations in Richmondshire has proved prohibitively expensive for private developers for many years and the local authority has repeatedly intervened in the market in villages to create more housing for local and younger people.

The move to provide more than half the total £570,000 cost of the community-led initiative comes amid challenging conditions for developing affordable housing in many areas of North Yorkshire, none more so than Richmondshire.

Last month a report to the North Yorkshire and York Housing Board found in the rural areas of Richmondshire just two properties, had been completed compared to a mid-year target of 71.

An officers’ report to the meeting stated the council’s subsidy for the Hudswell scheme of  £108,333 per home compared favourably with the Bainbridge scheme, which equated to £160,000 per home, but was higher than the £102,625 subsidy per affordable home at West Witton.

Councillors were told as a larger scheme the West Witton development of eight affordable homes on a 17 -home estate benefitted from economies of scale which were not possible with the smaller schemes at Bainbridge or
Hudswell, which has seen numerous community regeneration initiatives.

In 2010 Hudswell became the first village in Yorkshire to have a community-run pub when The George and Dragon in Hudswell, near Richmond, was taken over by villagers having been closed for two years.

The Hudswell charity was established in 2015 and has been a driving force in delivering rural regeneration, particularly through community-led affordable housing. It already manages six affordable homes for rent to people with a strong local connection.

The meeting heard details of the development were too sensitive for publication, but that a collaboration with Teesside University would be
“innovative with the intended outcome being to deliver a timber frame house that can adapt to people’s needs as their life situation changes”.

Councillors were told the housing scheme would contribute towards several long-standing council objectives around the sustainability of rural communities by taking practical steps to provide potential accommodation for young families.

Lower Swaledale and Arkengarthdale councillor Richard Good said while Hudswell was close to Richmond it was in need of affordable homes.

He added: “Hudswell are an example to us all, we could all learn from them. They have got a really good track record. The houses that they have built so far are excellent. It is an excellent scheme and I am hoping it goes through the new authority.”