House prices in Bury St Edmunds have risen so quickly that only four towns outside of the south east saw sharper increases last year.
New research by the Halifax has revealed the average house price in Bury in 2015 was £245,062, that is 12.7 per cent more than in 2014.
Stroud, Wellingborough, Solihull and Huntingdon were the only towns outside of London and the south east to experience bigger increases.
Not surprised by the findings, Cllr Diane Hind said: “Bury and it’s environs are a lovely part of the world and it’s a relatively easy commute by road, and rail when there are no disruptions.
“However, it does worry me that this increase is making it even harder for people to get on the property ladder, and also has the knock on effect of raising rents.
“I was lucky enough to buy my first property at 21 years old, but, sadly, today home ownership is an impossible dream for many people even on average incomes.”
St Edmundsbury, Forest Heath and Suffolk County Councils are currently identifying sites for development after recently agreeing to set up a jointly-owned housing development company to provide homes for sale and rent.
Cllr Hind does not think the company will make ‘even a small dent’ in the foreseeable future and would rather scale back ‘right to buy’ and bring in rent controls.
Meanwhile, Cllr Julia Wakelam thinks the answer is to start building affordable public housing to rent.
She said: “The provision of such housing, which must not be subject to sale at discounted prices (which is a misuse of public money), would take the heat out of the market and, hopefully, eventually have a downward pressure on both rents and house prices.
“Without such intervention, many people will be unable ever to afford a secure home for themselves and their families.”
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “We know that house prices have been rising rapidly in Bury for some time and, while this is good news for existing home owners, it is pushing house purchase out of reach for many first time buyers.”
She said the West Suffolk councils were helping by encouraging developers to build more shared ownership homes which people on low incomes can buy on a part buy/part rent basis and were taking direct action by setting up the housing company.
“This will build homes in West Suffolk for purchase and for rent, including lower cost homes to give hard-pressed local people the chance to buy.”