Suffolk/Essex: Thousands of younger people are being priced out of rural areas, new figures suggest


- Credit: PA

Soaring house prices have forced thousands of thirtysomethings and young families out of rural areas in the last decade, new figures have revealed.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) warns the “demographic shift” is now putting the future of many rural pubs, shops and schools at risk across Suffolk and Essex.

Figures released by the NHF today show that house prices in some areas of the region increased by as much as 97% between 2001 and 2011.

The rise, coupled with a slow increase in income, has resulted in people between the ages of 30-44 and young families moving out of rural areas in favour of towns and cities.

According to the figures, the biggest increase in the number of 30-44 year olds leaving was in Tendring, where 14% of people in that age group left the area between 2001 and 2011. Suffolk Coastal saw the sharpest fall in Suffolk at 11%.

Claire Astbury, East of England lead manager at the National Housing Federation, said: “Young people are being priced out of the rural East of England by rising housing costs and are moving elsewhere to raise their families.

“What will happen to the local shops and pubs, the village school, the small businesses that maintain rural economies, if there’s no-one left to keep them open?

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“If we don’t start building more homes that ordinary families can afford, our treasured eastern countryside will become the preserve of the old and wealthy. It’s up to all of us to halt this rural decline.”

The number of 30-44 year olds living in rural areas of Suffolk fell from 94,920 in 2001 to 88,700 in 2011, according to the figures.

In contrast, Ipswich saw the number of 30-44 year olds living in the town rise by 12%, from 25,351 in 2001 to 28,500 in 2011.

In Waveney, the number of 30-44 year olds fell by 10% in that same period.

The figures have also shown that the number of children under the age of 10 in rural areas rose five times more slowly than in urban areas and the number of people over 65-years-old living in rural areas has risen 77% faster than in towns and cities.

Despite the figures, estate agents say they have not seen anything to suggest there is a major problem with younger homeowners being priced out of the market.

Tom Orford, a director at Savills, said: “I think we are seeing a wide cross-section of people in the market still moving to those areas.

“I’m not seeing any kind of big moves to the towns. People are still wanting to get into rural areas.”

Patricia Dorey, sales manager at Hamilton Smith in Woodbridge, added: “I can’t say that I have seen that trend.”