Concern over housing plan in Eastfield

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DEVELOPERS behind Scarborough’s largest housing scheme in recent years are expected to submit the plans within the next month.

And it is hoped that work on the Middle Deepdale scheme in Eastfield, an idea which has been around for more than 15 years, could begin in the autumn if the project gets planning permission from Scarborough Council.

As reported the project is due to be discussed in detail next week by the council’s Corporate Strategy Overview and Scrutiny Committee after councillors raised concerns that the multi-million pound project could be hit by the recession.

In a council report prepared for the committee by the council’s strategic director, David Archer, he said that members had expressed reservations about the large development during an economic downturn and increasing unemployment.

Councillors have raised fears that the development could be affected by the aftershock of the recession, which has hit the construction industry particularly hard.

But Cllr Jonathan Dixon, the portfolio holder for or housing, said that the construction industry would see a recovery over the 15 years which it is expected that Middle Deepdale will take to complete and that getting a planning application submitted would be a huge step forward.

He added: “I think everyone would agree that progress has been slow, but this will be a landmark in the process once the application is in. The development is hugely important to Scarborough, not just to help solve affordable housing problems but for the wider economy as well.”

The project would cover 92 acres of land in Eastfield and the site has been earmarked for development since 1999.

But plans were put on hold following the discovery of an Iron age and roman settlement – however an archaeological investigation later revealed that, despite being of regional significance, the find would not affect the development.

It is hoped that it could generate 500 new jobs through construction and the ongoing maintenance of the buildings.

Last July councillors approved a masterplan for the Middle Deepdale development, which featured a mix of private, social and rented accommodation, a primary school, community facilities and open space.

The council has set a target to build 12,000 properties across the borough by 2026 – and the Middle Deepdale project is fundamental to achieving this.

The National Housing Federation has warned of a growing crisis in affordable housing – as the average property price in the Scarborough district is now more than £159,000 while the average income is just £16,500.

But concerns have been expressed that the Middle Deepdale scheme would create a “monster estate” within a community already desperate for services and amenities.

Cllr Dixon maintained that the local infrastructure would undergo a massive upgrade to cope with the additional housing, with proposals including a new western relief road between the A64 and the A165.

Senior council officers have stressed that the scheme is of “major strategic importance” to help the future economic growth of Scarborough and the regeneration of Eastfield.

The housing development is earmarked for a site next to Scarborough’s industrial estate and business park.