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Babergh ‘gripped by housing crisis’ due to price rises, report claims




A new project between Lavenham Community Land Trust and Hastoe Housing Association, to convert the old council gritting depot site into 18 new affordable homes.'The sod was officially turned by James Cartlidge MP (South Suffolk) ''Pictured: MP James Cartlidge'''PICTURE: Mecha Morton
A new project between Lavenham Community Land Trust and Hastoe Housing Association, to convert the old council gritting depot site into 18 new affordable homes.'The sod was officially turned by James Cartlidge MP (South Suffolk) ''Pictured: MP James Cartlidge'''PICTURE: Mecha Morton

Homes in Babergh now cost 10 times more than the average salary in the area, according to a new study, which says the district is facing a housing crisis.

The North West Home Truths report for 2017-2018, published this week by the National Housing Federation, found Babergh residents on the district’s typical annual wage of £30,623 would need their pay to go up by approximately 122 per cent to afford a mortgage on a local home.

The average property in Babergh is now priced at £296,917 – higher than the England average of £288,898 – and the NHF argues that, for many people, home ownership is impossible.

It attributes this crisis to what it describes as a large shortfall of new housing in the district, stating that 375 too few homes were built in Babergh between 2012 and 2016, and that the rate of building must increase to resolve this issue.

But the MP for South Suffolk has argued it is harsh for Babergh to be judged as not delivering, stating the district council is granting planning permissions above its target, but these are not being built out in practice.

Following the report’s publication, Ciaran Tully, NHF’s external affairs manager, said: “The housing market has seen a relentless rise in the gap between house prices and people’s salaries. Babergh is no exception.

“Attaining a mortgage is increasingly unrealistic and private sector rents make saving up more difficult.

“As this year’s report shows, it is more important than ever for the sector to be able to deliver homes that are truly affordable.

“If we want to get serious about ending the housing crisis, we need to start looking at unlocking more land, so we can build homes faster.”

The analysis also found the rise in the cost of private rents, which is now at an average of £709 per month, eats into about 28 per cent of the income of rented housing residents.

In addition, it determined that 23 per cent of housing benefit recipients, despite being in work, remain unable to afford their rent.

This comes after the recent launch of a new affordable housing scheme in Lavenham, where the South Suffolk MP warned that the district’s housing supply was under severe pressure and young people were finding it hard to get on to the property ladder.

Mr Cartlidge appeared in Parliament earlier this month to call for more effective powers to be granted to local authorities to ensure developers actually build the homes they have been given permission for.

He said: “We do need more homes, particularly for young families, but it is important that the numbers of homes expected of each community is sustainable and proportionate.

“The problem at the moment is that Babergh – like many local authorities – is granting permissions well in excess of its target, but the homes are, in many cases, not then being constructed.

“As a result, we have lost our five-year land supply and speculative development applications are spouting like confetti.”

Mr Cartlidge added that districts should not be viewed as “nimbyistic” because of low delivery rates, and he would push for a fairer deal for councils “doing the right thing and granting lots of permissions”.

Cllr Lee Parker, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “Increasing demand for housing is putting pressure on communities across the country, demanding hard choices and new approaches, and it is a fact that in Babergh we have had the smallest shortfall in new houses over the last five years of anywhere in Suffolk.

“But we do not underestimate the challenge we’re facing – higher demand over coming years will continue to push prices up unless we build the housing we need in the right places.”



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