In the Vision for Whitby 2023 consultation, Whitby residents decided unanimously that both HA22 (former Golf Course) and Rievaulx Road should remain as green space, and that the council responsible should firstly look elsewhere for land for housing, and second that new build housing should only be of types that meets the local need.
The location of Whitby is such that land supply is restricted by the boundary of the National Park. As a result, land for house building will always be scarce, and getting scarcer. House prices are being impacted due to supply. Green space is being eroded by the push to provide space for housing. The rest of the District is located in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, and so is subject to different planning restrictions than Whitby, Sandsend, Ruswarp and Sleights. The Local Plan for Whitby allocated various plots of land for development; Whitby Area Development Trust issued a response to this document back in 2015. We highlight the land that is part of the Local Plan for development on the below map.
- Completed developments (GREEN) : such as Helredale Gardens, Prospect Rise, Sneaton Castle, Holly Tree Court, Larpool Lane, Highfield Road.
- Under development (ORANGE) : such as Broomfield Farm, and Green Lane.
- Suggested for development under BetterHomes (RED).
- Sites that are not on the Local Plan but have a planning application (BLUE).
- The North Yorks Moors National Park boundary is shown in YELLOW.
Recent Housing since 2011
In terms of numbers of dwellings developed since around 2011, just counting significant developments (but including a couple of known developments that don’t yet have planning permission), the following table lays bare the overall development strategy. During this time the overall population of Whitby has not changed to any degree.
|Helredale Gardens / St Peters Rd||Yorkshire Coast Homes||2014||105||91||91||0|
|Highfield Road||Yorkshire County Homes||2014||41||10||10||0|
|Holly Tree Court||BHD Partnership||2017||10||0||0||0|
|Spa Well Court||Norstar||2017||20||0||0||0|
|Shackleton Close / Anchorage Way||Barratts||2017||72||18||12||6|
|Sub Total (Completed)||678||272||227||45|
|Broomfield Farm Phase 1||Barratts||2022||233||70||36||34|
|Former Highways Depot, The Garth||McCarthy Stone||2023||60||0||0||0|
|Broomfield Farm Phase 2||Stonebridge Homes||2023||254||77||58||19|
|Sub Total (Planned)||669||226||137||89|
The conclusion is that (younger) people are still leaving the town due to being unable to afford to live here, and that using private developers has not worked to any great degree, simply serving as a mechanism for feeding the holiday let market.
Housing Types Required
Whitby and District’s population has its own particular demographics. There is a significant aging population, either retired, or nearly retired who, sooner or later, have to think about where they will live when they are less mobile (e.g to be close to a bus route, given that there are areas where no buses pass) and maybe find accomodation that is more convenient. Additionally, there are families with children; schools are significantly under-subscribed highlighting the fact that many younger people cannot afford to buy properties in the town and often end up moving away. As a result of these factors the priority categories of housing required by residents currently are
- Truly affordable houses. This definition of affordable needs to take into account the typical earnings of a Whitby and District resident, as well as the very high house prices that the district commands (which is distinct from the situation in Scarborough where the average house price is noticeably lower, and hence more affordable).
- Rented accomodation. For those people that cannot afford or do not want to buy a home, being able to stay in their home town is essential, and helps to guarantee the availability of a working population.
- Social housing. The traditional “council house”, for which there is a significant waiting list due to lack of supply.
- Long-term rented accomodation. There used to be a decent quantity of long-term rented accomodation in the District, but this has gradually diminished as owners have converted their properties to holiday lets.
- Retirement living (Care Plus) housing. Housing in parts of the town where there is a bus service, and where (ideally) there are extra facilities for the retired who need more assistance. There is very little of this type currently in the whole District.
The recent push for housing in Whitby has focussed on providing so called “affordable housing”. A typical development will provide the order of 30% of the total number of houses as “affordable”. There is pressure to reduce this to 20% in the near future, meaning that a typical development will be contributing significantly fewer properties that local people can afford, and that larger amounts of land will be required to provide the housing that the populace needs. This will only serve to put more pressure on resources such as green space. If we take a typical development in Whitby with, say, 100 homes, meaning 30 of them will be classed as “affordable” (using the current 30% allocation). With the current arrangement,
- 25% of the 30 will be applicable to the UK Government “First Homes” scheme – 8 properties.
- 70% of the remainder (22) will be affordable/social rented – 15 properties.
- 30% of the remainder (22) will be other intermediate (discount sales, shared ownership etc) – 7 properties.
|Location||Mean||10th %||20th %||25th %||30th %||40th %||Median||60th %||70th %||75th %||80th %||90th %|
|Harrogate & Knaresborough||31,019||10,804||15,251||18,543||20,953||23,972||26,843||29,754||33,503||36,163||40,312||x|
|Scarborough & Whitby||25,807||9,066||12,668||14,576||16,707||20,238||23,575||27,545||30,644||32,474||35,946||x|
|Selby & Ainsty||31,435||10,337||17,265||18,997||20,343||23,735||27,766||31,687||35,423||36,899||x||x|
|Skipton & Ripon||25,218||x||10,609||13,480||15,522||18,934||22,218||x||x||x||x||x|
|Thirsk & Malton||26,326||9,598||15,883||19,136||20,659||22,388||23,643||26,341||30,690||33,090||35,498||x|
- Broomfield Farm Phase 1 “Abbey View” has 1-bed apartment at £150k and 2-bed house at £200k
- Green Lane “Eskdale View” has 3-bed house at £310k
- With a 30% discount, the purchase price would be ~£140000. So with a deposit of £21000, anyone earning ~£26500 could contemplate buying it meaning the lower 62% percentile could not afford it.
- With a 40% discount, the purchase price would be ~£122000. So with a deposit of £18000, anyone earning ~£23000 could contemplate buying it, meaning the lower 52% percentile could not afford it.
- With a 50% discount, the purchase price would be ~£102000. So with a deposit of £15000, anyone earning ~£19500 could contemplate buying it, meaning the lower 40% percentile are still priced out of the market, but at least they would now have hope of being able to buy in their home town, with it being almost within reach.
To an extent our organisation originated with a Facebook group in late 2021 around the idea of protecting the local housing stock so that local residents are not priced out of the market at the expense of properties utilised as second homes or holiday lets. Being a desirable place to visit, a relatively large percentage of the Whitby housing stock is either holiday let or second home. This impacts on
- the market price of properties, making it harder for local family members to buy here.
- the retention of families in the town, particularly younger people, which is impacting on school numbers, for example Caedmon College only 50% subscribed, just like some village schools.
- societal cohesion, leaving streets as ghettos, with some areas having very few actual full-time residents, and a constant changeover in people in a street resulting in parking and anti-social behaviour issues.
- employment, causing a lack of work-age people, meaning that local businesses servicing the tourist trade cannot find staff for their business.
Holiday lets currently pay no council tax, and can pay little to no business rates (if they get Small Business Rates Relief) hence not contributing toward the development of the area, with the process for converting a residential property to a holiday let requiring relatively little effort.
In a recent UK Treasury “initiative” towards the cost of living crisis second home owners will get a £400 payment for their second home towards fuel costs, that they aren’t residing in, meaning that they get £400 on their permanent residence and the same on their other house despite the fact that they can only live in one home at once. One further example of the UK Government effectively encouraging second home ownership while the owners of those properties contribute little to the community where the home is located.
The results of the 2021 Census (released March 2023) show that 1735 of the 7950 dwellings (subject to council tax) in the town/parish of Whitby have no usual resident. Thus 21.8% of those are either second homes or temporarily vacant. Given the high demand and soaring prices for homes in this area the majority are undoubtedly second homes. As said, the Census figures only include dwellings that are eligible for council tax. In addition, the Valuation Office Agency currently lists some ~1476 properties in Whitby which are classed as self-catering holiday accomodation, eligible to pay business rates. Therefore there are 9426 domestic residential properties in Whitby town/parish of which 3211 (34.1%) have no usual resident. If they were subject to registration, AirBnB lettings of rooms within council tax rated dwellings would be in addition to this figure.
In terms of estate agent activity, it is estimated that there are currently 4 second home / holiday let buyers to every 1 residential buyer. The consequential average house price in Whitby (£255000) is now 35% higher than the average house price in Scarborough (£192000), and 20% higher than the average house price in Filey (£210000) and the gap is widening (last updated Nov 2022). The Phase 1 of Broomfield Farm development has recently announced prices for its houses … 2-bed start at £204000, and 3-bed start at £275000; how these are vaguely “affordable” in a town with an average gross salary of £25000 is unclear.
The demand for second homes and holiday lets is a national issue, being felt in many other places around the country, and exacerbated by the pandemic. In this article on the BBC they mention that “the seaside resort of Scarborough, which includes Whitby, had the highest number of holiday lets, rising from 2,032 in 2018 to 2,913 in 2021″ (Fact Check for the BBC : Scarborough does not include Whitby, they are different places; maybe they mean the borough of Scarborough) with MPs from many constituencies raising concerns and demanding action is taken for a number of years, but thus far in England nothing has changed.
New Build Homes
The initial focus of our group was to address the issue of new build homes being out of the price range of local people, as well as being snapped up as holiday lets. There is ample evidence about the recent Sneaton Castle, Shackleton Close / Anchorage Way, Spa Well Court developments where a significant percentage of these new builds are now holiday lets. A first step would be to enforce all new build / additional housing to be full-time residential only. This is one of the few things that can be achieved without government legislation so makes sense as a first step.
Whitby Town Deal have allocated an amount of money (£2.6m) to assist in the development of the Broomfield Farm estate, providing 60 affordable homes with a Community Hub in a “NetZero Village”; these homes are seemingly primary residential, managed by Sanctuary. At one point it was requested that all homes from this development would not be permitted to be holiday let or second home, but this was not guaranteed (dependent on the builder of Phase 1 (Barratts) and Phase 2 (JohnsonMowat)); we really would want this to be enforced, but sadly too late for Phase 1. The Broomfield Farm development in total (Phase1 + Phase2 + NetZeroVillage) is creating around 548 homes with 209 as affordable (38%).
SBC wanted to sign a “Better Homes” project deal with various sites across the borough, including on Whitby green space, but with no public guarantees that the houses built will be for primary residential (this was passed to NYC to consider when SBC was terminated). This cannot be allowed to continue.
Poll : Make All Future New Builds Primary Residence
As a result of pressure from this group, a Town Assembly was held on 12 May 2022. Those residents present at the Assembly voted overwhelmingly to hold a Parish Poll in order to give all Whitby residents the opportunity to have their say. That Parish Poll was conducted under Electoral Commission guidelines on 13 June 2022. All residents who were on the electoral roll were entitled to vote on the following question:
- Should all new build and additional housing in Whitby parish be restricted to full time local occupation as a primary residence only and forever (in perpetuity)?
This poll resulted in 93.0% of votes cast in favour of all new build and additional housing being for residential only. Change is needed, and we wait for the associated councils to take action.
We clearly need to make a change to how the parish operates regarding new build houses and their permitted use, but how we go about it is not necessarily clear cut.
Q: Why don’t you apply for a Primary Residence Scheme for the whole borough of Scarborough?
The percentage of second homes / holiday homes across the whole existing borough (including Filey) is currently 7.2%, whereas the equivalent number for Whitby alone is 28.5%, consequently there is little chance that the government would approve such a move. The North Yorkshire Council proposed area committee area would exclude Filey, and so would show an even greater disparity between Whitby and its region. Restricting the area to just the Whitby parish provides a clear distinction between a hot spot with a distorted market and the surrounding area, and would focus action where it is needed, to a particular parish. Should other parishes start to suffer from the same market distortion and levels of non-residential occupancy then they could benefit from the same mechanism.
Q: What are the ways that such a decision be made law?
- Embody this into a Neighbourhood Plan, though this would probably take many years to be put in place. In November 2022 SBC granted Whitby Town Council permission to create a Neighbourhood Plan, so we will see how long this takes to become accepted. As of August 2023 little to no action had happened on this from Whitby Town Council other than appointing a consultant to carry it out.
- Include it in a Local Development Scheme, as achieved by Northumberland County Council in their Local Plan 2016-2036 with the following (Section 7.56) “To help sustain the vitality of communities, in parishes where 20% or more of household spaces are identified in the latest Census as having no usual (i.e. permanent) residents, a principal residency restriction will be applied to all new market dwellings, which will be secured through a Section 106 agreement.“. Bear in mind though that the next North Yorkshire Council Local Plan won’t be out until April 2028 at current estimates.
Our 10 Point Plan
We fully realise that the above restriction would only apply to new build / additional housing, leaving all existing housing still open to an inflated market. In St Ives (Cornwall) such a restriction was imposed, and the evidence is that new build construction slowed, and instead external buyers targeted existing houses for their second home purchases. Our group will be submitting evidence to the parliamentary “Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill Committee” with MP Tim Farron who has long been campaigning for action in this sector. In the meantime the UK Government has announced a review into short-term tourist accomodation and the impact on those living in popular tourist destinations. The call for evidence for this lasts until 21st September 2022. Watch this space.
We have developed a 10 point plan of how the housing situation in Whitby can be overcome. This is defined on our Housing Proposal page.
Broomfield Farm (HA18)
In terms of the most significant housing development in Whitby, the Broomfield Farm development is currently marked as 3 phases. Sadly SBC don’t provide an overall map of the integration of the different phases, so we have attempted to stitch them together, below. Note that the Stonebridge Homes part (Phase 2) and NetZero Village are just proposals currently, with no associated planning permission.
Things to note :-
- There is no planned bus service to this development. For 548 residences, with no service close by, that is quite an omission. Would a bus service be able to run along Cormorant Drive / Kingfisher Drive? If not then any service would need to be able to turn around on the road through this estate.
- At least some of the paths around this estate would need to be either shared paths or dedicated bike paths.
- The green space does little to address the shortages in urban park, natural or sports green space in Whitby.
- There are seemingly no guarantees on primary residence for these properties, leaving it open to become a second home / holiday let ghetto.
- The amount of traffic created by this number of houses will put more pressure on Larpool Lane.
Better Homes Project
The SBC “Better Homes” project proposed to create “affordable” homes across various sites in the borough. In October 2022, SBC announced it had found a preferred joint venture partner. Here is our analysis and response to this project as it relates to Whitby
- Affordability : The project adopts a one-size fits all strategy across all areas in the Scarborough borough. Bearing in mind Whitby has very limited space available (national park boundary) and has an average house price of £255k, compared to Scarborough with no such boundary and an average house price of £190k, the idea fails to take into account relative affordability in the different towns. The precise affordability is not defined (“a significant proportion of these new homes will be truly affordable”), and having a fixed discount (e.g the typical 20-30%) across all areas on a subset of the properties may well make some properties “affordable” in Scarborough but they almost certainly would not be affordable for the majority of younger people who wish to find a home in Whitby (≥40% below local market value would typically be needed in Whitby). Any long term project should include an assessment of the affordability taking into account market price and ONS salary profile for the town (and whilst Whitby and Scarborough are poles apart on house market price they are very similar in income); this project does not do this. The numbers of affordable homes is not defined either … 20%? 30%? So we can conclude from this one point alone that it will not do anything to alleviate the housing problem that the town has. This doesn’t seem any different to the many developments the town has had over the last several years offering 20-30% of so-called affordable but not making a dent in the overall numbers. Someone said that repeating the same recipe over and over and expecting a different result was referred to as “insanity”
- Building on green space : for this project in the Whitby area SBC have allocated 2 adjacent green space sites on Rievaulx Road, 1 green space site on California Road, and 1 Local Plan (formerly green space) development site (HA22). These equate to 1.3ha of (existing) green space being written off in a town that is already deficient in Urban Park, Natural and Sports green space (with no SBC/NYCC plan on how they will redress this – you cannot have a plan for housing on green space without a corresponding plan for green space). Note what the SBC Local Plan says (HC14) “The redevelopment of existing open spaces and outdoor sports facilities, including those identified within the Green Space Audit […] for non-open space uses will only be permitted where […] there is an identified surplus of that type of open space or sports provision in that locality and the site cannot be reclassified to meet an identified deficit in another form of open space or sports provision; or, a replacement open space of an equal or higher quantity and quality can be provided in a nearby accessible location”. There is no identified surplus of Natural green space (California Road), and no other green space can be reclassified to replace it, therefore this should be prevented by the Local Plan. As stated in the 2014 Audit, “Other – Amenity” space could be reassigned to different types of green space to fill the deficits, but this is not such a case, so should be prevented for that reason also. The way they presumably get around (ever) applying that rule is to sell off the land to a separate company first and then it is no longer designated, so what is the point of the rule?
- Primary Residence : There is no apparent primary residence clause, meaning that the on-the-market properties on these sites in Whitby will be very appealing to second / holiday home investors. This is despite the parish poll in June 2022 with 93% of residents voting in favour of such a restriction. Just one look at the 3 sites chosen in Whitby – California Road (views over the harbour), Rievaulx Road (overlooking Pannett Park), and former golf course HA22 (views of the coast and sea down to Sandsend) – makes one wonder whether they have been deliberately picked as plum sites to attract such investors. Since the on-the-market houses will not be affordable to residents, then they will be snapped up as holiday lets and second homes, exacerbating the existing problem (SBC planners stated at a WCN meeting that the closer to the sea, the more holiday let purchases observed … hence why choose these sites?). SBC have made no effort to reflect the views of residents in the parish poll, which would have made some impact on availability of homes. Consequently one can only conclude that this deal is not to benefit residents.
- Type of Development : Given that the amount of space in Whitby is very limited, a council should be maximising the amount of houses that are genuinely available for the local residents to address the defined urgent housing needs of the town – retention of young people / families requires either social housing or truly affordable (≥40% below local market value), and retired people need retirement living style homes (to minimise the problems of aging). This SBC proposal uses private developers, as opposed to social housing developers, and does not attempt to address the highest priority needs of the town. It instead uses up green space with houses of which a large proportion will become holiday homes. SBC’s motivation on this project must be something other than satisfying the housing needs of the resident population, either that or they have not adequately assessed the requirements of the residents (that requires consultation!).
- Duration : This ties a council into a 30-year deal. At the current rate of decay of the resident base due to lack of progress on property availability, the town may well cease to have a future (due to lack of working age people to be able to work in the “theme park”) long before that runs its course, given the above complete lack of consideration of the special situation in Whitby. From an organisation that has not had its accounts signed off since 2015, is this responsible financial planning?
- Consultation : There was no consultation with the public regarding this project. When exactly were the public consulted on the project aim, and on the “deal”? That’s a simple one … they weren’t! At. All. For a project that will have a lasting impact on the direction of housebuilding provision in the town, one would expect more than just an edict from a council in Scarborough, but then it was symbolic of the way that SBC “did business” over many years.
You can read email exchanges that our group has had with SBC about the “BetterHomes” project here. Still no comment on how they will address the issue with shortage of green space in the Whitby urban area, just a continual re-allocation, with no public statements by Whitby’s NYC councillors – is the “party line” to adopt projects that are to the detriment of constituents? If so, please put that in your manifesto at the next election.
The project requires NYC sign-off to go ahead; we urge all NYC councillors to halt the project, and do a thorough reassessment of how it applies to Whitby and why it is not addressing the housing needs (we are happy to provide input of what is needed). Use site HA22 for the pressing requirement of a cemetery extension (below).
The HA22 site would be ideal for the urgently required cemetery extension, but SBC want to sell it off to a private developer for a project that will not resolve the town’s problems, having the knock on effect of the cemetery being relocated to yet more green space with still no plan of how this green space will be replaced; NYC councillors must be able to answer how the green space issue is going to be resolved before approving ANY reallocation of further land.