A motion calling on North Yorkshire Council to help implement a ban on “major private housing developments” in Whitby has been passed by town councillors who said social housing projects should be prioritised to alleviate the area’s housing crisis.
Coun Michael Harrison, who proposed the motion, said: “I was absolutely delighted that our councillors voted unanimously to support the motion.
“It proves unequivocally that Whitby Town Council is fully in step with the wishes of the people of Whitby.
“This is a bold statement of intent from Whitby residents to the unitary authority of North Yorkshire, that the wishes of the Whitby town people must be listened to.
“I earnestly urge the unitary authority to do so.”
However, North Yorkshire Council said last week that it does “not have the power to insist that private house builders only develop affordable homes” on sites not owned by the authority.
Andrew Rowe, North Yorkshire Council’s assistant director for housing, said that while the authority “fully understood” the housing pressures in Whitby, it was not “a simple matter of us prioritising social housing over private housing” and added that the council had to work “within the boundaries of the national legislation”.
Whitby councillors have stated that the town is facing a shortage of affordable homes and jobs which has resulted in young people being forced to “flee” due to the “inaction” of local authorities.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Coun Asa Jones, who seconded the motion, said he “wasn’t expecting to see such wide-ranging support” for the proposal at the meeting held on Tuesday, September 5.
He said that the point of the motion was to be “loud and bold and state very clearly that the housing situation requires drastic action”.
Coun Jones said he now wanted North Yorkshire Council to “use its power to lobby the Government to make changes, so we can have a solid idea of how many holiday homes we actually have in our communities and tax these businesses adequately.”
From next year, North Yorkshire Council is planning on implementing a double council tax on second homes, which Coun Jones welcomed but said he did not think it went far enough.
According to the National Housing Federation, there are more than 8,000 second homes in North Yorkshire, the highest number in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Addressing criticism that the motion was an example of nimbyism, Coun Jones said it was “a legitimate concern” but said that the motion was designed “to attract attention” and encourage “those in power to take action”.
Asked what they hoped North Yorkshire Council would do, Coun Jones said: “I think we need to say to this new council, you have to pay attention and actually do something about all this.”
It comes as North Yorkshire Council announced on Monday that it was launching a public consultation on the allocation of social housing within the county.