First time buyer homes in Bury St Edmunds area cost ‘12 times average salary’

West Suffolk House ENGANL00120130105142248
West Suffolk House ENGANL00120130105142248

A campaign group has laid bare the struggle first time buyers face to get on the property ladder - with homes costing 12 times their average salary in the Bury St Edmunds area.

Using Government data, the National Housing Federation (NHF) says those on St Edmundsbury’s lower average income of £12,340 would need 12 times that to afford a house with a price tag of about £148,000.

It also highlights that there was a shortfall in building new affordable homes in 2014/15 - 26 in St Edmundsbury, 39 in Forest Heath, 156 in Mid Suffolk, 94 in Babergh and 203 in Breckland.

The figures were revealed as part of the organisation’s rural housing week to raise awareness of the importance of affordable rural housing.

It is also backing the Homes for Britain campaign calling on the Government to publish a ‘long term plan to end the housing crisis’.

Claire Astbury, external affairs manager for the East of England at the National Housing Federation, said: “If the new Government doesn’t urgently address the chronic shortage of housing, young people and families will continue to be locked out of ever owning a home in future.”

Bosses at St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District Councils say they have already recognised the affordable housing shortfall in their West Suffolk Housing Strategy and continue to work with developers to provide such homes.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White said: “One of the recommendations from our housing strategy is the formation of a housing company which will help meet the mix of housing needs in our area including affordable housing.”

Council chiefs at Mid Suffolk and Babergh say they accept not enough affordable homes were built in 2014/15 - although their figures are ‘slightly different’ to those of the NHF. They said 38 new homes in Mid Suffolk and 27 in Babergh are in the development pipeline as part of their New Build programme.

Cllrs Nick Gowrley and David Holland, housing portfolio holders for Mid Suffolk and Babergh respectively, said the shortfall was ‘regrettable’ and they aim to build more council houses by working with the county council and local town and parish councils to identify new plots of land that can be earmarked for such use.

A spokesman for Breckland Council said: “The housing market has been through a challenging period during which levels of building have been depressed and the viability of providing higher levels of affordable housing has been reduced. Breckland Council is working with its housing association partners to bring forward specific schemes in both rural areas and its market towns to meet the need for affordable housing.

“Addressing housing needs in the longer term, Breckland is currently preparing its new single Local Plan which is designed to meet long term housing needs in the District for both market and affordable housing to 2036.”