HEXHAM won’t receive any affordable housing over the next 10 years, a major housing developer has warned.

Barton Willmore’s Stuart Natkus, who represents Taylor Wimpey, expressed repeated concerns about the limitations imposed on the town through the Northumberland Local Plan at a Northumberland County Council meeting to discuss allocated housing sites last week.

The plan includes the policies that will guide and determine future planning applications in Northumberland and includes land allocations and designations.

In housing terms, affordable means 80 per cent of the market value.

Mr Natkus said documentation from the county council referred to Hexham’s unsuitability for affordable housing. He said: “The committed supply falls well short of the requirement and is particularly small given the size and role played by the town in meeting wider housing need and providing local services and facilities. However, the spatial constraints imposed by the green belt mean that the scope for new large-scale development is somewhat limited. Hexham will be lucky to get any market housing.”

Research by Savills, the property agent, has revealed that Britain will hit its target of building 300,000 homes a year only if the Government increased funding for affordable housing.

In a bid to meet the target, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond revealed in his spring statement that the Government would guarantee up to £3bn of borrowing by housing associations in England to support delivery of 30,000 new homes through an Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme.

Mr Natkus also questioned the rationale for the sites which were allocated for housing as he doubted they could be delivered. He said: “Looking at the sites in Hexham, they all raise concerns in the council’s own assessments.”

In March, Northumberland County Council approved a £1m spending boost to support community-led housing projects which aim to meet the needs of local people.

An organisation, Hexham Community Housing Limited, was formed earlier this year following a strong desire from townspeople for cheaper houses, as identified through a housing needs assessment, conducted as part of the Hexham Neighbourhood Plan, in 2016.

One of the directors Dave Clegg said: “It gave us strong evidence of the significant housing needs in the town.

“There’s no social housing in Hexham. Groups of people find it difficult to find suitable housing in Hexham and quite a number need to move away.”

The topic of affordable housing is widespread throughout Tynedale with new housing developments in Corbridge, Haltwhistle, Prudhoe and Acomb. In Prudhoe, Gentoo is renting out 61 two-bedroom properties of its 404 new homes marketed as affordable, which were available to local families.

However, Tynedale residents and potential house buyers often criticise prospective housing developments for their lack of affordable housing allocation, thus pricing out local house buyers.

Reacting to a pre-application for an affordable housing scheme on green belt land off Aydon Road, Corbridge, in May, Coun. Nick Oliver said: “We want to warn local people that, with the average house price in Corbridge being more than £300,000, 80 per cent of the market value could be around £280,000 and you would struggle to define that as affordable housing.”