District’s house building ‘challenge’ as population grows and changes

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Maintaining current levels of housebuilding in Wakefield will be difficult, a senior council officer has said.

Mark Hooton, the local authority’s team leader for housing, said the city had created more homes than other West Yorkshire areas in recent years, but added that it would be hard to continue building at the same rate.

A total of 6,600 properties were built across the Wakefield district between 2012 and 2017, a scrutiny committee was told.

Around a fifth of these were classed as affordable homes.

The council is putting together a new housing plan for the district, which will focus on building properties with more space and helping those at risk of losing their homes to repossession.

But Mr Hooton said “challenging times” were ahead.

He said: “Wakefield has recently performed very well on housebuilding compared to its neighbours.

“We’ve had some really good housing growth in our district.

“But it’s going to be challenging to maintain that, particularly as other neighbouring authorities are now putting together their own local plans.”

Mr Hooton added that it would be important to cater for the area’s rising pensioner population.

A proposal to hike tax on empty homes will be considered by the council’s Cabinet next week.

Landlords sitting on a vacant property currently pay a flat 50 per cent premium on top of their council tax bill, but will be asked to fork out more if the plans are approved.