HOUSE prices in Stratford district are among the least affordable in England.
A national report on rural housing found it is the 19th most expensive area to buy a home, taking local salaries into account. The average house price of £293,498 is more than 13 times average yearly pay, which stands at £22,298.
People living and working in the countryside are being pushed out as house prices soar, second homes lie empty and populations become older, the report concludes.
And the Warwickshire Rural Housing Association believe it is a problem affecting more than just first-time buyers.
Company Secretary, Craig Felts, said: “We are increasingly finding that it is difficult for people to secure accommodation that they can afford. This even affects those on moderate incomes and can affect not just young people – families and the elderly can be similarly affected.
“Often housing is in short supply, and what is available is expensive – both to purchase and to rent. Some will have no choice but to move away from their communities.”
This week Stratford District Council said it was aware of the issues raised by the report and is working to tackle the problem.
Its ‘local choice’ initiative allows rural communities to identify their own affordable housing needs and ensures new homes are let to those with strong ties to the area.
And within its proposed Core Strategy there is a requirement for 35 per cent of new housing developments to be delivered for lower rents.
Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi said it was vital young people could afford homes in the district’s villages to ensure they remained vibrant places to live and work.
Responding to the report’s findings, he said: “The best way to ensure that rural homes are affordable is to increase housing supply. However, to command local support this has to be done in a way which is sustainable and which protects our countryside for future generations.”
The Conservative MP is pleased the council decided to scrap the tax discount for second homes but insisted there are other reasons for booming prices including a successful local economy and low unemployment rate.
He added: “We also need to take the long view, and ensure that our young people are leaving school and college with the skills to secure good, local jobs, giving them the income they need to afford to buy locally.”