Why Harrogate has a lot to do on 'affordable housing'

The sometimes painful effects of new housing developments are currently being felt across the Harrogate district. There’s a lot more to come in the new decade, but will enough of it be affordable?

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 12:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 12:18 pm
Is enough truly affordable new housing being built in Harrogate and district is the question.

Figures show that there is still a long way to go on 'affordable housing' which in Harrogate, with its high prices, is defined at its maximum at an estimated £295,000.

New housing development in Harrogate: the overall picture

When it comes to the housing crisis, the Harrogate district feels under greater pressure than ever before.

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Just try talking to residents in Killinghall, Pannal, Otley Road or Kingsley Drive.

The Harrogate district may appear to be awash in new housing developments but the pressure to build even more to meet government targets, economic growth and the needs of a growing - and ageing - population is, if anything, set to increase in this new decade.

Not only is the district’s population expected to increase to a new total of 170,300 by 2030, Harrogate is still playing catch-up on its previous housing needs.

On average, official figures show fewer than 350 homes have been built each year over the last ten years.

But, amid a flurry of draft policies, housing needs assessments and national planning policy frameworks, Harrogate Borough Council is aware of the challenges and says it has clear plans to address the shortfall mainly, though not solely, through private building firms and housing developers.

How many new houses are likely to be built in Harrogate district this decade?

If the council’s revised version of its long-delayed Local Plan does get the approval of the Government Inspector shortly, at least 7,700 new homes will be built by 2024.

Plus the potential for a further 1,000 through the development of a proposed controversial new settlement in the Cattal/Green Hammerton area.

What is 'affordable housing

Affordable housing is defined as being up to 80% of the market price.

How high are house prices in Harrogate - fairly high is the answer

Harrogate Borough Council’s own Draft Housing Strategy 2019-24, says Harrogate is one of the most unaffordable places to live in England and the most unaffordable in Northern England.

In Harrogate average house prices are around 11 times the median annual income of people who work in Harrogate and average rents equally high.

According to current figures supplied by www.zoopla.co.uk

The average price for property in Harrogate stood at £369,641 in January 2020.

What is the cost of an 'affordable house' in Harrogate?

At 80% of market price, the definition of 'affordable housing' in Harrogate at its maximum is, therefore, nearly £300, 000 - ie £295, 200*

* calculated by using current figures at www.zoopla.co.uk

What is Harrogate Borough Council's aims on 'affordable housing'

In Harrogate Borough Council’s annual report for 2018/19 it says it delivered 259 new affordable homes across the district in 2018/19.

It amounts to a significant improvement on the 161 built during the previous year.

The council’s own housing strategy shows 4,397 affordable homes are needed over the 2014-2035 period out of a total of nearly 15,000.

How many affordable homes does the National Housing Federation think actually needs to be built

National Housing Federation Monica Burns, its head of member relations, said: “There is a huge need for more affordable housing to be built across the UK, including in Harrogate.

“Around 5,500 affordable homes must be built in Yorkshire and the Humber every year to meet demand, yet last year only 2,172 were provided.

“We believe the greatest need right now is for homes for social rent, which are let at around half the market price and offer quality housing to those on the lowest incomes.”

What Harrogate Borough Council aims to achieve via mainly housing developers

Harrogate Borough Council’s target for affordable homes is 40% on greenfield sites and 30% on brownfield sites.

There may be some public concern over the type of housing being built in the Harrogate district, but Harrogate Borough Council says the district’s affordability ratio is 37% which is above the English average.

That makes it the best in Yorkshire and Humber.

What do local critics of housing plans in Harrogate and district say

Harrogate Community Land Trust, a residents-led charity set up last year, claims too many of the new homes being built are too expensive.

Sarah Hart, chair of Harrogate Community Land Trust, said: “Affordable housing is defined as being up to 80% of open market prices but it seems the ‘up to’ rarely happens in our district.

"Private developers are not delivering genuinely affordable housing for key workers in social care, hospitality and retail.

“With the average house price currently standing at more than £350,00, 80% of that figure is not affordable for the majority of households that have been raised here or work in Harrogate.

“People who work in our crucial services in Harrogate are fed up with commuting.

“The sustainability of our town is at a critical stage.

What is Harrogate Community Land Trust

Harrogate Community Land Trust is one of 330-plus community land trusts across the UK which have delivered thousands of homes with thousands more in the pipeline.

Not-for-profit and advised by professionals, Harrogate Community Land Trust is registered and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

One of its first initiatives is to invite the community to get involved in determining Harrogate’s needs at a series of public events coming up this year.

Founded by Harrogate resident Sarah Hart, the group’s chair, with, originally, Rebecca Colby, it believes Harrogate Borough Council should be doing more to boost affordable and social housing.

Lifetime membership of Harrogate Community Land Trust costs £1, and membership is open to any individual over 16.