15 July 2010

Plans are being drawn up for much-needed affordable homes to replace outdated housing trust flats soon to be demolished in Ilkley.

Answering long-running calls to provide more housing for members of the community unable to afford the town's hig

The Incommunities Group, the largest social housing provider in the Bradford District, is working on schemes to replace 30 unoccupied flats at Dale Court, Fieldway, with new homes.

Although no detailed scheme has yet been unveiled, it has been revealed that the development could include both homes for rent, as well as houses for sale or for shared ownership.

The trust is also investigating ways of funding the new homes, amid the national spending squeeze.

The housing group recently consulted planners on demolishing the three blocks of 'old fashioned' and difficult-to-let flats, which have shared toilets and bathrooms. Incommunities plans to grass over the site awaiting future housing.

Demolishing the existing homes means the trust will not have to pay council charges, saving it money.

The housing group has found alternative homes for the last remaining tenants, and fears the site may be a magnet for vandals if the buildings, pictured, are left as they are.

Incommunities group chairman and Bradford councillor, Martin Smith, (Con, Ilkley) said: "We're putting schemes together but of course they require funding. We need to get it demolished because it leads to vandalism and we have to pay rates on it."

"It's still in the design stage, it's got a long way to go, but it will still be for affordable housing," he said.

He could not put a figure on the number of homes expected to be provided on the site, although he says there could be room to build more than the current 30 flats on the land "We may be able to get more on – it's quite a large site," said Coun Smith.

He says the scheme could be a mixed development, and this may include houses available for rent through Incommunities, as well as possibly affordable homes for sale or shared ownership.

However, Coun Smith said the spending review means the scheme is unlikely to move ahead quickly, although the housing provider may consider working in partnership with another organisation to provide new homes.

He also pointed out that the trust would have to find money to carry out the planned demolition and subsequent landscaping work.

There have been numerous calls for the provision of more affordable housing in the Ilkley area over the past ten years, as house prices have soared beyond the reach of young people who have grown up in the town, first-time buyers, and pensioners wanting smaller homes.

Attempts to build larger-scale affordable housing developments included an unsuccessful plan for homes on the former Ilkley Middle School site, Valley Drive, in 2005.

Consultation about housing in the area was more recently carried out in partnership by MHA Care Group and affordable housing provider Firebird Homes.

MHA gained planning permission earlier this year for a 56-home 'housing with care' scheme for the over 60s, including some affordable homes, on part of the former Middle School land.

There have been calls to demolish a Bradford Council building close to Dale Court, because of concern about vandalism.

Ilkley Parish Council's plans committee this week asked if the building on the site could be demolished along with the Dale Court flats. Coun Smith said he was also keen for Bradford Council to knock down the other building at the rear of the site.

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