QUESTIONS are being asked about a £35m loan made by Hambleton District Council to a Housing Association amid concerns over developments in the area.

Campaigner Dr John Gibbins from Sowerby, one of the original objectors to the huge 900 home Sowerby Gateway development near Thirsk fears public money could be jeopardised after information about the loan came to light.

But Hambleton district council said the loan is to support the local development of housing in the community through Broadacres Housing Association. They added: “The loan is provided at commercial rates and is secured by Broadacres Housing Stock. The interest that is received is used to continue to support the provision of high quality, cost effective services by the Council which helps to shape the place we live in and improve the lives of our residents, visitors and businesses.

“The loan to Broadacres housing association was approved by Cabinet and Council in December 2014 in accordance with the Council’s governance arrangements and due diligence requirements, which included independent financial and legal advice. The loan is monitored on a regular basis and the position is reported quarterly to cabinet in the Capital Monitoring and Treasury Management report which is published on the Council’s website.”

Members of the council’s Cabinet were told the interest received from the loan was £1.15m.

Mr Gibbins said many questions still need to be answered. “We should know exactly what the agreement is between Hambleton district council and Broadacres, are Broadacres acting as an independent developer. What are the loans secured against and who owns the land.

“I am concerned that due diligence has not been carried out and there is a danger that public money could be jeopardised. Sowerby Gateway has been a catalogue of problems

Broadacres declined to comment separately and said they would leave the response to HDC. The Housing Association was set up in 1993 to take on council housing stock from Hambleton and now manages around 6,500 homes.

In February 2017 Broadacres was heavily criticised by the regulator and given a non-compliant rating for governance after a subsidiary Mulberry Homes Yorkshire Ltd which was working on local developments including Sowerby Gateway suffered heavy losses understood to have cost up to £10m.

The Housing Association has since been upgraded by regulators and new developers are now working to complete the Sowerby Gateway scheme. But there has been extensive criticism over a decision by Hambleton to agree a planning turnaround which meant zero affordable homes would be built in the latest phases.