Housing is a key issue for York residents, with affordability and quality being a challenge for many. Most of York’s housing (70%) is owner occupied, 18% in the Private Rented Sector and 12% for social rent (council and housing associations). Housing affects the health and well-being of residents and theirsense of community. It also accounts for around a third of York’s locally generated carbon emissions.

There have been some key achievements:

  • More than 500 new build affordable homes have been completed in York since 2019, helping York residents to access new homes to rent and to buy despite the impact of 2 years of Covid and the current recession.
  • The council’s direct build Housing Delivery Programme has contributed to this total through the 140 new homes at Lowfield Green. With an increase in the affordable proportion at the Burnholme and Duncombe Barracks sites (now under construction) to 60%, an additional 105 ‘recycled’ shared ownership homes and some site sales to housing associations, the council will have directly provided 256 additional affordable homes – a significant contribution to housing needs in the city, with further sites to come. 
  • York’s first Local Plan since 1956 – hopefully to be approved this summer – will provide further affordable contributions.
  • The Housing Delivery Programme, which is providing 600 low carbon  homes on mixed-tenure sites around the city, has won national acclaim for the standards it has set – combining carbon reduction with affordability, accessibility, design for low carbon lifestyles, intergenerational living and sociable, mutually supportive communities with community growing spaces, live/work provision and community meeting/events space.
  • The council has also supported self-builders, community-led co-housing initiatives and other innovative models of housing delivery.

Work has also been done to support the quality of our existing housing stock (accounting for 80% of York’s homes in 2050):

  • The council has developed a detailed 5 year ‘asset management plan’ for the council’s 7,500 homes. This will ensure all homes meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard but also go beyond that to meet a higher York Standard, including £7m of investment in tackling damp and mould.
  • The Plan also embeds energy saving retrofit measures into council repairs programmes bringing nearly 2,500 council homes that are currently below EPC C up to that level and saving on residents’ energy bills.
  • An Energy Efficiency Retrofit Plan also sets out how the council will work over the next 10 years to improve the fabric and reduce emissions for all homes in the city through providing advice to property owners, continuing to regulate the private rented sector and developing innovative funding solutions to scale up retrofitting.
  • The extension of the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the city’s central areas to properties with 3 – 4 occupants (in addition to properties with 5 + occupants) comes into force on 1st April 2023 and will help the council to improve the quality of most HMOs in the city.
  • The city’s homelessness services continue to win Government funding and to provide innovative support to prevent homelessness and help people who have become homeless back into permanent tenancies. The service includes the council’s Housing Navigators and Private Rented Sector Officers, alongside the use of Housing First.

But there is still much to be done. York Green councillors will work on the following priorities:

  • Continue to implement and develop the council’s own Housing Delivery Programme, retaining its high standards of carbon reduction, design for accessibility and sustainable living and commitment to sociable, mutually supportive mixed communities, including at least 40% affordable housing.
  • A review of the approved Local Plan to ensure that all new homes delivered through strategic sites are zero carbon in use with low embodied carbon using the most appropriate and up-to-date building technology and design.
  • Continue to explore ways in which even more affordable homes for both rent and low cost home ownership can be achieved, including working with the new Combined Authority for York and North Yorkshire and its strategic housing functions and exploring options for different and additional delivery models, directly through the council and in partnership with others.
  • Build on the newly established Social Housing Providers Forum to continue to develop closer working relationships with Housing Associations.
  • Support innovative approaches to community led housing models such as the co-housing at Lowfield Green, self-build plots and community cooperatives including very low cost rental models and models that promote supportive communities that reduce demands on services.
  • Implement the Retrofit Action Plan both for council homes and across the city, prioritising measures to save energy, improve comfort, reduce bills and reduce carbon emissions across all tenures.
  • Continue to deliver the council’s well respected home adaptation service through the Healthy and Sustainable Homes Team, adapting both council and private homes to support independent living. We will work with the council’s Access Officer and disability groups to ensure that the service is meeting all needs as effectively as possible.
  • Develop an asset management plan for improving housing standards and provision on the city’s three gypsy and traveller sites, working with the York Travellers’ Trust.
  • Work with council tenants and leaseholders to continually improve the management of council homes, communal spaces and estates.
  • Support the council’s innovative homelessness and rough sleeper services to keep up with increased demands and develop new ways of helping people back into settled tenancies, including the extension of Housing First and other supported accommodation including specialist mental health housing  and revisiting the potential role of a multi-agency ‘day centre’.
  • Continue to work for greater controls on the increase in short-term lets/holiday homes in the city, implementing the Government’s proposed registration scheme when it comes forward and continuing to lobby for greater controls through the planning and licensing systems. We will collect as much data/evidence base as possible in preparation for changes in the law, explore options for further controls through amendments to an adopted Local Plan and make it easier for residents to report problem ‘party houses’. We will continue to require restrictive covenants on all Council built homes and encourage other developers to include such covenants (particularly for York Central).  
  • Support the council’s work on enforcing standards in the Private Rented Sector, including the new HMO powers and explore options for further extending licensing of privately rented properties to drive up standards.
  • ●       Review Local Plan policies on the provision of student housing to ensure planning policies balance the needs of the students who contribute so much to our city and the needs of communities.
  • Continue to encourage more homes over shops in city centre locations and elsewhere. A vibrant 21st century city centre needs to be a mixed community with residential accommodation as well as a healthy economy and community uses.

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