Housing plan still 'alive' at Dale site

AMBITIOUS plans to turn the old Dale Electric site in Gristhorpe into a new housing scheme are still very much alive, according to the architects masterminding the project.

However, they have warned that it will be “very costly” paying for the proper disposal of the concrete, asbestos and other materials and the whole scheme will only be viable if Scarborough Council drops its 50 per cent affordable housing requirement.

Residents packed the village hall for a public meeting in July at which draft plans were put on display for 42 new homes and a number of small industrial units.

Following the rejection of plans for a “more viable” 100 new homes, villagers were told the new scheme would include more open space and “integrate with the rest of the village and the community as much as possible”.

However, plenty of concerns remained – including drainage and sewerage, road safety, lack of amenities, loss of privacy and overdevelopment – against the desire of most people to be rid of a prominent eyesore.

Following the initial consultation exercise, it was hoped a formal plan for the site, owned by TT Properties, would be submitted to Scarborough Council in September, but it is now more likely to come forward “early in the new year”.

Mark Bramhall, director of architects Bramhall Blenkharn, of Malton, told The Mercury: “We’re very excited still, but we’re still in the process of carrying out an assessment of the costs and viability of the scheme with regards to the amount of social housing we will need to provide and the fact that there is a lot of concrete to get rid of and deal with responsibly.

“At the moment we’re carrying out a technical study, which is part of due diligence – making sure everything is accurate. The positive news is this has let the client go to the next stage.”

However, Mr Bramhall said removing all the concrete in an environmentally responsible way was “not a cheap option” and the whole project would only be viable if an agreement could be reached with Scarborough Council to reduce the requirement for affordable housing. Removing and disposing of asbestos correctly is also expensive and a legal duty.

At the same time as the survey is being carried out, in itself a significant financial commitment for the landowner, negotiations are ongoing with Scarborough Council over reducing the requirement for affordable housing.

Since the recession and the accompanying decline in the housing market, councils all over the country have been faced with the dilemma of relaxing their affordable housing requirements in response to the need of developers to achieve a level of financial viability.

The TT Electronics site in Gristhorpe is identified by the council as a “preferred site” for housing in its latest draft strategy for meeting its target for providing new homes across the borough.