A CONCERTED drive to increase the availability of affordable housing in both rural and urban areas is being strangled by Government policies which are being circumnavigated by developers, a council has said.

Hambleton District councillors have voiced frustration over its continuing inability to meet its affordable housebuilding target.

It has released figures showing in the last quarter of 2017 it met 52 per cent of its target of 120 below market value homes which aims to ensure local people are able to afford to live in the places where they were brought up, work, or have family connections.

The council points towards a loophole at the stage of the planning process where developers of large and medium-sized estates are allowed to claim the requisite number of below market value properties would make their schemes unviable, due to costs such as clearing contamination or building roads.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Mark Robson has called for a stringent Government policy to stop developers using unforeseen costs as a reason for building estates with less than its targets of 40 or 50 per cent affordable housing.

He said: “When a developer takes a piece of land and knows there is an affordable housing target, it should do its homework and not pay too much for the land if there is an issue such as contamination. Authorities need the Government to stop this loophole that allows developers to go down this route.”

A meeting of the authority’s scrutiny committee heard its efforts were also being hit by a government policy to foster small-scale village developments.

Councillor Geoff Ellis said the Government policy of allowing no affordable housing on developments of ten or less properties had “destroyed the provision of affordable housing in villages”.

He added: “There is no incentive for landowners to sell land for affordable housing adjacent to a village because in general they can obtain planning permission for developments of up to ten market value houses.”