Building houses of “the right type and in the right place” is a critical factor in addressing the growing void between prices and the average income of residents in a Yorkshire spa town, according to its MP.
In Harrogate, the affordability gap continues to be substantial with average house prices costing more than 11 times the typical earnings of the town, according to the National Housing Federation.
With an average house price of £330,182, homes in the area now cost 11.3 times the average income.
And according to the Yorkshire Home Truths 2017/18 report, between 2012 and 2016, 1,373 too few homes were built in the town.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said: “Harrogate is an attractive place to live; houses here are in high demand and have been for many years. The difference, therefore,
between incomes and house prices in Harrogate is a well-known and longstanding problem. It is one which can be addressed by building more houses.
“However, those houses must be of the right type and in the right place. These are the critical factors. Four and five-bedroom houses are not going to help people get on the housing ladder, enable people to live near where they grew up or address the affordability issue.
“That is why, in my discussions with Harrogate Council, I have been pleased to see their emphasis on introducing a new housing mix policy. When adopted, this policy will compel developers to include the type of housing required in the community to enable young families and people who work in the local economy to live or stay here too.”
Mr Jones stressed that there also needed to be an end to developers “sitting on sites”.
He said: “We need developers to get on and build houses for which they already have permission. By simply sitting on sites developers are contributing to the affordability problem. This is common across the whole country and the Government is looking at what action it can take to change this situation.”
Between 2012 and 2016, nearly 36,000 too few homes were built in the region, the data shows, with a particular shortage in growing cities such as Sheffield and Leeds.
During the same period there was a shortfall of almost 7,674 homes in Leeds. However, Leeds City Council said it was “100 per cent committed to addressing the issue”, with latest figures revealing that the authority delivered thousands of new homes last year.
Executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Coun Richard Lewis said: “While we recognise there is a shortage of new – and particularly affordable – housing in Leeds, we are 100 per cent committed to addressing this issue. Our policies are beginning to have an impact as latest figures show that Leeds is one of only three local authorities in the country to deliver more than 3,000 new homes in 2017.
“However, the Government has simply handed over capacity to build to the private sector. As a council, we would love to be in a position to be able to build more affordable homes ourselves, but we are doing the best we can.”