Is Bury St Edmunds a victim of its own success? Fears younger generation is being forced out by high house prices
PUBLISHED: 16:38 07 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:38 07 September 2017
The thriving town of Bury St Edmunds is becoming a "victim of its own success", it has been claimed, as soaring house prices and rents force younger people to live elsewhere or stay at home.
With its high-flying schools, medieval town centre, beautiful Abbey Gardens and a range of independent shops and restaurants, house prices in Bury continue to soar.
With the added impact of connectivity to both London and Cambridge, where houses prices exist in their own astronomical bubble, concerns have been raised that the younger generation can no longer afford to stay.
Ernie Broom, 81, who came to the town with his family in 1965 as part of the “London overspill”, said communities like his on the Howard Estate risk dying out.
“The council houses on the Howard Estate have been sold off and bought out under help-to-buy, but none of that money went in to building new council houses,” he said.
“We are all getting older and the houses are too expensive for the younger generation to afford – there is no where for them to go.”
Mr Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants (HEART) said many of the new houses on the northwest edge of Bury, at Marham Park, will only be affordable for people working in Cambridge or London.
“It will just be a dormitory, and then we risk losing the community we have,” he said. “House building should be a service to the community, not just making a couple of people an awful amount of money.
“We need houses youngsters in Bury can afford. I am lucky I am not young, as it is a lot harder than it has ever been before.”
Bury Town councillor Tom Murray, who recently down-sized from the Howard Estate to a flat in the town following the death of his mother, said the younger generation and the older generation who need to down-size are both struggling.
“A house on the Howard Estate can cost more than £200,000,” he said. “At Marham Park the cheapest will be more than £240,000 – how can young people, whose wages are so low, afford it? We are a victim of our own success – we are such a great town – but we need houses for the younger generation.”
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Bury is booming
The average house prices in Bury St Edmunds have gone from £250,000 in 2015 to around £300,000.
It has a population north of 40,000 – a growth of 12,000 more people since the turn of the century.
There are four secondary or upper schools in the town – three are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted while the fourth opened last year.
The town is the only place in Suffolk to still have the three-tier schooling system – with several middle schools kept open by the All Through Trust.
This system is popular with parents, many who campaign against two-tier, and has bolstered the appeal of the town among young families.
Town centre footfall has gone up against a national decline for several years, and less than 7% of town centre units are empty, 3 percentage points below the national average.
There is existing planning permission for around 2,300 houses in Bury which have not yet been built.