Housing: histories and futures

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Housing was a key issue that came up on the first My Future York stall we ran on Parliament Street in March. It was also the focus of a pilot project we undertook in November last year called ‘York and Housing: Histories Behind the Headlines’.

As part of the project, we invited a wide range of people to comment about the challenges York faces in terms of housing. Alison Sinclair in her piece ‘From New Earswick to Tang Hall: How York set the agenda for social housing’ explored York’s tradition of innovation in high quality and affordable housing. Darren Baxter and Alison Wallace, from the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy, asked ‘What is it that drives unaffordability in York?’. Through a specific focused project using the city archives we explored some of the stories behind York’s big changes and trends in housing, Carmen Byrne, in ‘Emotional Trauma, Community Upheaval, Long Silences’ uncovered the impact on people of compulsory purchase in 1970s. We have built on these pieces through commissioning a new piece, published last week, by Richard Bridge, giving a specific account how legislative changes will impact on York as a livable city, ‘A Right to the City?: The new legislation driving York’s gentrification’.

One key theme that emerged through ‘York and Housing: Histories Behind the Headlines’ was about public engagement in future decision making. An openness to public discussion in the context of the new Local Plan and York Central was set out in a piece by Council Leader Chris Steward and Deputy Leader, Keith Aspden, ‘Don’t wait for us to come to you, please come and talk to us’ . Phil Bixby, Chair, York Environment Forum and partner in the My Future York project, suggests that, while there are a lot of external drivers, one of the reasons the York is experiencing a housing crisis is that the city has found it hard to make decisions, ‘The real crisis York faces is a crisis of decision-making’.

The histories, analysis and ideas contributing as part of the ‘York and Housing: Histories Behind the Headlines’ project are shaping My Future York. One way we’re building on the work we did in November is through the Hungate Histories project. You can find out more by join our public event sharing the findings of the Hungate Histories project on 21st June, 3.00-5.30pm.