8,000 affordable homes in next three years is possible, claims West Yorkshire Mayor
West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin has claimed more than 8,000 affordable homes could be built in the region over the next three years.
It follows her election pledge to help provide 5,000 affordable houses across West Yorkshire during her current term of office, which she claims is “fundamental” to create equality in the district.
But, following work from West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) officers, Ms Brabin claims 8,276 potential affordable homes have been identified for the coming years.
Currently, for a house to be classed as “affordable”, it must retail at 20 per cent under local market rates. This means the prices of affordable housing varies depending on where it is located.
Tracy Brabin told a full WYCA meeting: “One of my manifesto pledges was to produce 5,000 sustainable and affordable homes across the region. You will also know this is a challenge, but something we are determined to reach.
“Affordable and sustainable (housing) is really important. When we talk about equality and inclusion, housing is fundamental – I do understand the value of that affordable home.
“We also need sustainable housing to make sure we hit our carbon target by 2030.
“Doing the initial exercise, we estimated the delivery capacity for 8,276 affordable homes in the next three years.
“This is obviously a real stretch and it is about capacity to deliver, but it is also about strong partnerships.”
Developers often find it difficult to build on formerly-occupied land, known as brownfield sites, as they are often more expensive to prepare and build on than previously undeveloped (greenfield) sites.
Ms Brabin cited the Brownfield Housing Fund, a Government-backed £66m scheme to help deliver up to 6,000 new homes on brownfield sites in the region.
She added: “The combined authority has several potential tools to help us support partners to deliver. The Brownfield Housing fund maximises affordable homes across the programme.
“That is subject to planning and it is currently what we have on our plate. It is the floor we will keep pressing on affordable homes.
“We should develop partnership through local leaders. We know there are sights that need more support that provide technical specialist advice.
“This is a really vital tool. It is also critical to improve the understanding and viability of design. I know we can do it. It is a partnership to make sure everyone we represent has a safe and affordable home.”
Coun Matt Robinson (Con) asked why new job roles needed to be created by WYCA for such a scheme, adding that individual local authorities already had their own planning departments to carry out the work.
Senior WYCA officer Ben Still responded: “The reason for the additional posts is simply to have the capacity to take on a programme of this size. The combined authority needs to be able to coordinate these people.
“The core issue is that to develop programmes of this scale, it needs people of the right skill sets.”
Kirklees councillor John Lawson (Lib Dem) said: “The programme is very welcome – it will bring a lot of affordable houses online that isn’t there at the moment.
“I would be interested in how we make sure there is an equitable share in affordable housing across Leeds. We need to make sure that provision is where it’s needed.
Kirklees Council leader Coun Shabir Pandor (Lab) added: “It’s a really good opportunity.
“Housing is a massive issue, and we need to address major inequalities. If you have good quality housing, good education and employment skills flow from there.”
Members of WYCA endorsed the pledge.