No quick fix to shortage of housing

NADV 1501055AM4 Bogs Lane development.(1501055AM4)
NADV 1501055AM4 Bogs Lane development.(1501055AM4)

There is no easy solution to Harrogate’s housing crisis, the council has warned, after figures showed the area has spectacularly failed to keep up with housing needs.

A BBC Inside Out investigation said that just 14 per cent of the houses needed in the area were built over the past four years, leading to a huge shortage.

The borough council has questioned the figures, as its own statistics show that 40 per cent of the district’s housing needs have been met in four years. Coun Rebecca Burnett (Con, Rossett), Cabinet Member for Planning who spoke on the BBC programme on Monday, said: “It is frustrating that people see it as a fault of the council.

“We have granted permission for 2,500 homes in the last 12 months but it is impossible to expect that we can turn the tap back on after years of planning for low growth. The recession and the slowdown of housebuilding across the country played a part in Harrogate too.

“There are long lead-in times for housing developers, and we are going back to them to ask when they will actually start building.

“We have discussed with our legal team putting time limits on planning permission to get the houses built sooner but there isn’t anything the council can do and it is frustrating.”

If Harrogate was to build the additional houses needed, the industry could contribute an extra 616 jobs to the area, the Home Builders Federation has said.

If the extra building went ahead, an extra £230,000 would go towards education, £1.4m more tax would be raised and the local authority would benefit to the tune of £3.1m for affordable homes and an extra 6,158 trees would be planted.

Steve Basely, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “As well as delivering desperately needed new homes, increasing housing supply would provide significant additional benefits for everyone living in Harrogate through additional jobs, investment in infrastructure and facilities for communities.

“People often don’t realise that the new community centre, school or sports facilities have been funded directly as a result of housing developments.

“Ultimately, providing new homes also means better facilities for the wider community.”