Can our children afford to live in York?

Bec Horner

Bec Horner

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Can our children afford to live in York?

Guest blogger, Geoff Beacon, submitted this interesting article on whether our children can actually afford to live in York. I wonder what you think?

In the York area, a plot of land big enough to put a house on costs less than £1,000 but when it  becomes building land it can cost £100,000 or more. That’s a windfall to landowners, called the ‘planning premium’. This is built into the price of a new house.

But what if I could have a home on a £1000 plot somehow avoiding the price hike? A wooden cabin big enough for an old man like me can be bought for well under £10,000. Add mains electricity for £2000, mains water for £1000 and good modern cesspit for another £1000 and I could have somewhere to live for under £15,000.
I’ve been living in a holiday home on a site near York. There’s nothing more life affirming than waking up surrounded by nature; woods, birds, the occasional deer and falling to sleep to the sound of hooting owls. The space and the fresh air put a bounce in your step!

I’m still mobile enough to ride a bike. I’m lucky enough to have strong bones so falling off hasn’t yet caused me serious injury and when I do fall off it’s never on one of York’s pleasant cycleways. It happens when I negotiate traffic and complicated bits of road or street furniture. So let’s put my log cabin next to a cycleway near one of the out-of-town shopping centres or park and ride stops for when cycling days get too hard for an old man.

OK, that’s me sorted for less than £15,000 but what about the younger generation like the young man I met a year or so ago walking with his small son next to the pond at Joseph Rowntree’s Derwenthorpe development, where houses are in the £350,000 range.  He had a good job as a gas fitter but couldn’t afford house prices in York. His young family could only afford housing near Selby. They really wanted to be nearer to relatives round the corner from Derwenthorpe, where he had grown up.

The planning premium is built into the price of a new house.  You may think my estimate of £100,000 or so may be too high but figures from the government in 2015 gave the average price for a hectare of agricultural land as £21,000 and, in York, the price of a hectare of building land as £2,469,000. That’s more than an increase in value of 100 times when planning permission is granted.

I suspect that young man and family would not be content with my style of living but, a search of house prices on the Zoopla website finds that new 3 bed semis in York start at about £300,000. In Selby new 3 bed houses are less than £200,000. In Liverpool one can be bought for £100,000 –  but in Enfield on the outskirts of London the cheapest 3 bed semi today is £435,000. The variation in these prices is largely due to the planning premium – building costs don’t vary much across the country – except in very Central London.

Avoid the planning premium and house prices can almost become affordable.
Further, there are developments using computer controlled wooden construction that can reduce costs by a surprisingly large factor. With this modern construction and avoiding the planning premium a target of £20,000 for a new starter home should be achievable – and your children could easily afford to live in York.

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