A national park authority is facing criticism after it emerged properties built as part of a flagship affordable housing scheme designed to enable young people to get an “all important first foot on the property ladder” are being marketed at up to £320,000.
A Yorkshire Dales community leader and local families have said 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 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 it because they live in a national park and have a job in a national park.”
Broadacres’ director Helen Fielding said the housing association fully understands 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.”
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