High house prices mean young people often struggle to get a foot on the housing ladder in Richmondshire, but developers say they are doing what they can to help. Joe Willis reports.
Low crime, good schools, improving road links, beautiful scenery, friendly people. There are many reasons why people want to live in Richmondshire.
And people really do what to live in the area, meaning that with supply being limited, housing prices are high. Recent figures from the National Housing Federation showed the average house price in Richmondshire is £224,725, while the average wage is just £24,528.
House prices in some areas of the district, particularly the national park, are now nearly ten times average earnings. Community leaders say this is forcing many local people to move away from the communities where they grew up.
New houses are being built in large numbers. Figures obtained by Richmondshire Today from the district council show that in the last three years, full planning permission was given for 612 homes, with outline permission given for a further 527 properties.
But are they affordable to local people?
Developers say they are doing everything they can to help people get on the housing ladder.
Mulberry Homes Yorkshire is one of several developers building homes in Richmondshire which is offering shared ownership, in this case at its 32-home scheme in Colburn called Beckfield.
The cheapest home at Beckfield is a house type known as The Cannock and if someone wanted to buy it outright it would cost £138,000.
But they also have the option of shared ownership.
Buyers can choose to take an initial 25%, 50% or 75% ‘share’ and pay rent to Mulberry on the rest. For example, if they went for 25% the price of the house would be £34,500 and they would pay rent of £54.74 per week on the remainder.
Then, if people want to buy a bigger share in their home, as their financial circumstances improve, they can do so until they have the whole 100%.
Kath Stansfield, new homes coordinator at Mulberry Homes Yorkshire, said: “With house prices high in Richmondshire, coupled with the fact the district is one of the most popular places to live in the UK, this makes it very difficult to buy a new home, especially for young people and families.
“And even though there are now better mortgage deals available, saving up for a deposit for a new home can often be the stumbling block, preventing many people from getting on the property ladder.
“Buying via shared ownership is an excellent way of getting people on the ladder because the deposits needed are much smaller and people are also not going to be left with big mortgages.”
The company stressed that the homes it was selling via shared ownership were exactly the same as the ones on sale for the full market price.
“If people take a 50% share, on this development we are also including an oven, hob, fridge freezer and turfed gardens,” Kath added.
Yorvik Homes is currently working on new housing developments in Richmond and Spennithorne, near Leyburn.
Yorvik director Matthew Gath said sales had been buoyant since the beginning of 2017.
He said his company was also keen to support affordable housing schemes.
Homes still for sale at the company’s Temple Gate development in Reeth Road, Richmond, start a £225,000.
The site is part of the Government’s Forces Help to Buy scheme which enables servicemen and servicewomen to borrow up to 50% of their salary, interest free, to buy their first home or move to another property.
Matthew added: “We have recently worked with Richmondshire County Council to make five out of 13 properties at Spennithorne available at 30% below the market value in perpetuity.
“This means that whenever these properties become available for sale, they will be discounted by 30% providing the buyer meets certain criteria.
“This kind of scheme is designed to help people who do not qualify for other types of affordable housing but still need help in buying their first home.”
Affordable homes schemes have already proved a big success in some parts of the national park.
As well as building luxury homes, such as its new development at Monument Fields on the outskirts of Richmond, which it is building for Monument Developments, Richmond-based Randall Orchard Construction is involved in affordable schemes.
These include eight local occupancy houses completed last year in Bainbridge, near Hawes.
Under national park planning rules, the new homes had to be occupied by people who live or work in the park or who have a family connection with the area.
Graeme Newton, Randall Orchard managing director, said the houses were sold at a discount worth up to 25 per cent because of the local occupancy condition.
“All eight homes were sold to local people and we are delighted with how the scheme has worked out,” he added.
Mr Newton revealed that plans were being drawn up for a further five properties near the previous site behind the Rose and Crown pub.
It is likely the homes will be snapped up by locals delighted that they can remain in their local community.