England's rural housing crisis, where homes are more expensive than in London

Residents in the South West and South East face the biggest problems

Click to follow
The Independent Online

While the astronomical rents and eye-watering property prices which make up the housing situation in London often grabs headlines, a housing organisation has warned that England's rural areas are in fact suffering a worse crisis than the capital.

The situation is putting local shops pubs and schools at risk of closure, and pricing out locals, as almost half of the 50 most unaffordable places to live in England are in a rural location – with some house prices between 13 and 20 times the average salary

While homes cost the most in London, wages in the city are also higher – a trend that is not reflected in England’s countryside.

Residents in rural areas are stifled by a combination of high house prices, low wages, fuel poverty, seasonal rental and jobs markets, and high levels of second home ownership, according to research by the National Housing Federation.

In 90 per cent of rural local authorities, the average home costs over eight times the average salary - almost as high as London where the average wage is 10 times greater than house prices, according to BBC News.

England’s most unaffordable rural area is South Buckinghamshire, where the average home in the towns of Amersham and Beaconsfield is worth 20 times more than local wages. Similarly in the Cotswolds, homes cost 19 times more than salaries.

Areas with the biggest issues include the South West, particularly the areas around Exeter, Bath, and Bristol, and the South East, where commuters benefit from good transport links into London.

The incredible costs mean a person using a third of his or her average wage to pay a mortgage would need 60 years to fulfil the bond.

David Orr, National Housing Federation chief executive, said: “The traditional picture of the English countryside is fast becoming extinct. We know how difficult many under 40s are finding it to afford a home in towns and cities, but it’s becoming impossible for people to put down roots in our villages and market towns.

“The unaffordability crisis in rural areas is putting local shops pubs and schools at risk of closure and ageing populations are putting pressure on communities.

At 23,000, Cornwall has the highest number of second homes, but it is the South Buckinghamshire that tops the list as the least affordable place to buy.

“These worsening problems would be solved if more affordable homes were built. We are not talking about concreting over the countryside. It’s not ruining the countryside to build 10 high quality, affordable new homes in our villages and 50 in market towns. That’s all it would take across the land to end the rural housing crisis and help to solve the country’s housing crisis within a generation.”