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Middlesbrough town named cheapest place to buy a house - so why do people want to leave?

North Ormesby - where the average home costs just £57,000 but unemployment is three times national average - named as country's capital of affordable property

Sunday 22 March 2015 14:15 GMT

Britain's cheapest places to buy a house - where the average home costs just £57,000 - are revealed by a new survey, showing the housing shortage is not affecting all parts of the country.

North Ormesby, a suburb of Middlesbrough, on Teesside, has been revealed as the "most affordable" place to buy a house in the country. The price of an average home is £57,480, compared to the national average of £272,000.

A two-bedroom house in North Ormesby, which lies just south of the town's Riverside football stadium, can set you back as little as £30,000.

While there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in booming parts of the country such as London - where the average home costs more than £500,000 - low prices in areas such as North Ormesby reflect economic decline, high unemployment and high crime.

The latest available figures show that the unemployment rate in the ward of North Ormesby and Brambles Farm was 22.3 per cent in March 2013 - three times the national rate. More than half of people living in the ward were classified as unemployed or economically inactive.

The top 10, compiled by the Rightmove property website for BBC Radio 5 Live's 5 Live Investigates programme, is dominated by areas, like North Ormesby, hit hard by the decline of heavy industry in recent decades. The north-east, South Wales and Merseyside dominate the list.

Figures from the 2011 census show that many of the areas - including Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Blaenau Gwent and St Helens - were among the very few places to record a fall in population between 2001 and 2011, even as the country's population was growing.

Southwick in Sunderland, where the average home costs just under £64,000, is second on the list, and Ferndale, in South Glamorgan in South Wales, is third with an average house prices of £65,808.

Miles Shipside, from Rightmove, said that areas such as North Ormesby were often dominated by buy-to-let landlords who buy up large numbers of properties cheaply, not maintaining them, and renting them out to tenants on housing benefit.

He said: "Many of the places on the list are characterised by high levels of anti-social behaviour, and high unemployment.

"Because prices are cheap, buy to let landlords are getting good returns but it leads to the wrong sort of social mix, meaning resident don't have as much pride in the area."

This leads to a "downward spiral" where owner-occupiers, who are more likely to look after their homes, are put off and choose other areas seen as a better investment.

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