House building giant Persimmon, who are planning to build around 500 homes to the East of Otley, are in trouble with the Housing Minister for poor building standards and hidden charges, in homes built under the government’s Help to Buy scheme.

Since 2013, this scheme gives first-time buyers who can raise a 5% deposit a government loan of up to 20% of the purchase price of a new-build home. The government may extend the scheme due to end in 2021, but renewal of Persimmon’s contract is now in doubt.

Elliot Nathan, Otley and Yeadon’s Labour candidate for the city council elections in May, was quick to point out the injustice of the Help to Buy scheme.

“The Help to Buy government loan is a terrible use of taxpayers money. It has allowed developers to inflate prices and profits. Persimmon profits on each house built trebled from 2013 to 2018, from £22,000 to £60,000.”

Last year Otley’s MP Alex Sobel surveyed residents and met with Leeds Chief Planning Officer, Otley Neighbourhood Plan volunteers and finally Persimmon to get assurances that the proper infrastructure, including green space, school places and the new relief road would be in place on the East of Otley site. “I get a high volume of calls from Otley people desperate to find housing in the town” said Mr Sobel, “so Persimmon must deliver the required proportion of 35% affordable homes.”

Otley Town Council’s Neighbourhood Plan, nearing the final stages of preparation, sets out ‘Guiding Principles’ for the East of Otley development.

“We need to fight for the best possible outcome from any planned development and we need decent, truly affordable homes for young people who’ve grown up here. If I’m elected in May, I will work with our MP Alex Sobel and Leeds Planning to make sure the East of Otley Guiding Principles are followed. We want a good quality, well-designed mixed use development, including employment land, a school, and affordable homes to rent as well as buy. We’ll fight any Persimmon attempts to just “pack ‘em in and stack ‘em high” in Otley.”

Elliot Nathan

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