A DIOCESE covering an area stretching from north of Middlesbrough to south of Hull has had its application to build homes in a village where residents want more affordable housing recommended for approval.

The call from planning officers comes as a seemingly bizarre situation has unfolded in which the ambition of villagers to see more homes for young families can only be achieved if a contrasting vision for the proposed development site is passed by Hambleton District Council’s planning committee.

Many Ingleby Arncliffe residents want to see the site in the heart of the village and nearby land used to build 18 small and affordable homes to help young people to get on the housing ladder for the first time, young families with children to find a small and affordable home, and for elderly people to downsize in later life.

But the Diocese of York’s application for the site of the former Ingleby Arncliffe Church Of England Primary School, which closed in December 2017 due to a lack of pupils, and which will be considered by councillors later this week, would only see four open market houses built.

The diocese says its four homes plan would establish the residential use of the site and the provision of a road to an adoptable standard to serve a development on the site. Alternative community uses for the building have been explored, but the building was found to not be financially viable for re-use owing, in part, to its poor condition. In papers submitted to the committee, the diocese said under normal circumstances the site would be sold at open market value, but to help the community’s ambition the diocese has made a deal for the site with housing provider Beyond Housing, which aims to build affordable homes on the site.

However, the diocese says the only way that development can proceed is by the diocese obtaining planning permission for its site to fix the use of the land “for a fair valuation”, while providing the diocese with a fall-back should the proposal with Beyond Housing not proceed.

In the papers, the diocese warns if the application is refused then “the real possibility exists that the diocese would have to accept that a comprehensive development would not be possible and sell the site as it exists on the open market”.

The documents state: “This could then prevent any possibility of development for affordable housing occurring on the school field to the south, since the only access to this land is via the school.”