Families are seeing their children and loved ones pushed out of the city because they cannot afford to live in York, claim opposition councillors.
They say the council should be building more affordable homes on development plots owned by the local authority.
But ruling councillors have hit back, saying the council is building hundreds of new homes and criticising the opposition group for voting against private developers’ housing plans.
The row broke out days after HM Land Registry data revealed house prices in Yorkshire increased more than anywhere else in the UK in the past year – by 14 per cent.
City of York Council is set to build 600 new homes on land owned by the council – with 40 per cent of the houses classed as affordable and the rest sold at their value on the housing market.
Labour opposition group councillor Michael Pavlovic said he worries a lack of affordable homes in the city means families could be split up and key workers such as nurses, teachers and transport staff will not be able to live close to where they work.
He said the average wage in the city is £24,150 a year – meaning that a working couple would struggle to afford the cheapest houses at the council’s Lowfield Green housing development, costing £225,000.
The priciest council-built homes currently for sale at the site are four-bedroom houses costing £380,000.
Afford to live
Cllr Pavlovic said: “Residents in York want to see a city in which they, their children and grandchildren, can afford to live.
“Yet they are seeing their loved ones leaving the city and vacancies being left unfilled, because there aren’t the homes available that many workers can afford to buy or even rent.
“What options are there for young people starting out now? The only options appear to be staying at home with parents or house sharing for years and years.”
He called for more affordable homes to be built on council land and greater collaboration with social housing providers.
But Liberal Democrat Cllr Nigel Ayre hit back – saying it is “ridiculous” to expect the council’s housebuilding plans to solve the city’s affordable housing problems.
He said Labour councillors had voted against planning applications for housing developments totalling 3,899 new homes in York – which he said include a “significant amount of affordable housing”.
He said: “Given planned delivery of 18,000 homes over the Local Plan period, expecting the council’s 600 house delivery programme, which accounts for less than 3 per cent of the total, to solve affordable housing in the city is frankly ridiculous.
“Whilst private developers still have to deliver on the 20 per cent affordable policy, both Conservative and Labour governments keep relying on private sector to deliver the housing our country needs.
“If they were truly committed to building more houses, they would listen to local authorities who have long called for reforms to be allowed to build more social housing. This includes cheaper loans, access to low-priced public land and the right to keep 100 per cent of the sale price of council homes sold off under Right to Buy to reinvest in new homes.”
A council spokesperson said the authority is working with social landlords to deliver homes.
Michael Jones, assistant director for housing at the council, said key workers were given priority for shared ownership homes at Lowfield Green and all of these properties have been allocated.
He said: “Besides delivering 120 homes for social rent through the Housing Delivery Programme, we’re also creating 120 shared ownership homes of which eligible people can buy a 25 per cent to 75 per cent share.
“This means that a 30 per cent share of a two-bedroom home for sale at £175,000 could be bought for £52,500.
“We’ve given priority to the city’s key workers to secure the latest phase of shared ownership homes built on Lowfield Green and we’re delighted they’ve all been allocated.
“Meanwhile, the first tenants and shared ownership buyers have moved into Lowfield Green.
“The construction of new affordable homes at the Duncombe Barracks and Burnholme sites will start early next year, having recently received planning permission.
“In addition to our new-build programme, the largest in a generation, we have converted 60 properties into shared ownership homes over the last two years to help more York residents into home ownership.
“We are working with other social landlords to bring forward further sites and to set the standards for the quality and accessibility of the 3,600 affordable homes that will come forward through our Local Plan sites.
“This month, we’ve made land available to Joseph Rowntree Housing Foundation to build a further five homes for social rent and three for shared ownership.”