'Appropriate development' needed to fix affordable housing crisis, MP says

A Suffolk MP has called for "appropriate development" to help fix the county's affordable housing problems. 

A Suffolk MP has called for "appropriate development" to help fix the county's affordable housing problems. - Credit: PA

A Suffolk MP has called for "appropriate" development to help fix the county's affordable housing crisis, amid fears that rocketing prices are preventing local people from getting on the property ladder. 

According to Santander a third of first-time buyers reported that finding an affordable home in their preferred area was the biggest barrier to home ownership — up from just 11% in 2019. 

The mortgage provider also found that 37% of would-be homebuyers in the East of England had delayed their plans to buy a home due to the pandemic. 

This comes as In the year to January 2021, the average cost of a home in the East of England rose by 7.1% according to the ONS — reaching £309,243. 

But according to website Rightmove the average price for a home in the Suffolk's most desirable area — Walberswick — is £969,536.

Tom Orford, part of the residential sales team at Savills Ipswich

Tom Orford, part of the residential sales team at Savills Ipswich - Credit: Richard Marsham

Tom Orford, from the residential team at Savills in Ipswich, said: "The number of buyers is at an all-time high and stock levels are incredibly low – a picture reflected across much of the UK. 

"Consequently this leads to upward pressure on prices because there are not enough properties on the market to meet demand, with those that are available highly sought after.  

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"The speed at which sales have been agreed has also been extraordinary. From launching a property, arranging viewings, receiving an offer and agreeing a sale – in many cases this is happening all within the space of a week which has increased competition.” 

A study by estate and lettings agents Hamptons also recently concluded that renting in the East of England was now £117 per month cheaper than buying a property with a 10% deposit. 

North Ipswich and central Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter said there were numerous government schemes designed to help people on to the housing ladder, but admitted more need to be done. 

Dr Dan Poulter said people in Suffolk should work together to ensure the county continues to respond well to Covid-19

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

He said: "There's no easy answer to dealing with that increased jump in house prices beyond making sure that we have more housing in appropriate areas. 

"If you've got appropriate development in the right places then we can match demand with the supply and that's probably the best way of helping to keep prices down. 

"One of the great things about Suffolk is that it's a very attractive place to come to live and work and we attract people into our area who want a better quality of life, and a nice environment to bring up children and family or are wanting to retire. 

"But at the same time, it is also very important that we provide future homes for younger people who've grown up in Suffolk, and want to continue to live and work locally, and who also want to own their own home." 

Dr Poulter said he was not in favour of "concreting over the countryside to build houses", instead he said more must be done to develop brownfield sites.  

"In my own patch there are some good sites — in Bramford or the old sugar beet factory in Sproughton — which are ripe for redevelopment. 

“We need to sure that developers, when they’re given planning permission, don’t sit on big land banks.  

“The government is introducing a sort of use it or lose it thing for the developers. This will make sure that when planning permission is granted, the developers have to get on and build the houses.  

“This will then make sure that the supply keeps up with demand, which will help to keep prices down.”