Harrogate friends launch new group to fight for more affordable housing

Rebecca Colby and Sarah Hart who have set up Harrogate Afordable Homes Community Land Trust. (1702145AM1)
Rebecca Colby and Sarah Hart who have set up Harrogate Afordable Homes Community Land Trust. (1702145AM1)

Two Harrogate friends fed up with the lack of affordable housing in the town have decided to do something about it.

Rebecca Colby and Sarah Hart say they set up the Harrogate Affordable Homes Community Land Trust after finding it impossible to get on the local property ladder themselves.
Rebecca, a children's author and screenwriter, said: "I’ve lived in Harrogate for 15-plus years now, am 48-years-old and still haven’t purchased my first home.
"Sarah is in a similar boat. She’s also in her 40s, and while she’s owned a home before, due to health problems in the family, she had to sell it, and since moving back to Harrogate 5 years ago, she hasn’t been able to afford to buy another home."
The new Harrogate Affordable Homes group aims to address a problem it regards as affecting a far wider section of the Harrogate public than low-paid workers in the town's service sector.
Rebecca said: "We realised we knew several other people in similar situations and, even amongst our friends who have bought homes in the area, many had expressed concern about their children’s ability to be able to stay in the area when they’re older due to the lack of affordable properties."
Although their prime concern is the plight of workers in the local tourism and service sector, Rebecca and Sarah, who runs a vintage china hire and event planning service, believe the situation has deteriorated so badly it is now difficult for teachers and hospital staff to live in the town.
Rebecca said: "Not everyone requires a five-bedroom home. This trend in the local housing market just encourages more people to move in from outside the area.
"Not that that’s a bad thing in itself, but the priority should be on meeting the needs of local people first, surely?"
The answer, Harrogate Affordable Homes argues, isn't more expensive large properties in Harrogate but the development of more truly community housing.
Rebecca said: "With the average Harrogate house price now at £383,677, and 13.7 times annual UK earnings, it's become impossible for many key workers in the district to buy homes locally. Our aim is to help the local government deliver affordable housing to our community."
The concerned citizens admit it won't be easy to achieve their goal and is dependant on the support of local authorities if any progress is to be made.
Harrogate Affordable Homes' main priority is to demonstrates to Harrogate Borough Council that there is both need and support for affordable, community-based and community-led housing before the end of March so that they don't miss out on the pot of funding.
Rebecca and Sarah are now in the process of collecting names, email addresses and post codes of individuals who support the need for affordable housing in our area.
They are also setting up a series if drop-in events for the public and have been in touch with ASDA and the local library.
Rebecca said: "We want to work together with the local government, the Homes and Communities Agency and a housing association to provide affordable housing that is led by the community."

To keep up to date with developments with Harrogate Affordable Homes Community Land Trust, visit this website or email affordableharrogate@gmail.com or check Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HarrogateCLT