House prices – Cambridge catching up on London

cambridge08:22 Monday 21st March 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: Maybe the least surprising thing I will tell you this morning is that latest figures show the average cost of housing in Cambridge is rising faster than anywhere else in Britain. The figures though are quite startling. The Office for National Statistics says the median house price in Cambridge rose by just under 47% between 2010 and 2015. That’s an extraordinary level of growth in just five years, isn’t it. Cambridge is followed by London where the figure has risen by just over 38%. Duncan Stott is from the campaign group Priced Out. Duncan, what do you make of figures like this?
DUNCAN STOTT: Good morning. These are incredibly frustrating figures. To see such high house price inflation, when wages simply haven’t been growing anything like that rate, is incredibly bad news for young workers in and around Cambridge, and it just shows that the housing crisis is growing in this area.
DOTTY MCLEOD: I mean there are places though in Cambridgeshire where you known young people on you know decent incomes, where they can buy houses. So, you know, is it too much to sob about that they can’t afford homes in Cambridge itself?

DUNCAN STOTT: Well I think the problem is that Cambridge itself is where a lot of the jobs are, and I’m sure there are people sat in traffic right now trying to get to their jobs. If you don’t have the houses where the jobs are, then that flow of traffic is only going to grow and grow. So it is a housing shortage in Cambridge that needs to be addressed. And also Cambridge itself, this is a city that should become very exclusive and only for the rich, and with the few very lucky people who get some of the subsidised affordable housing? Or do you want it to be a city where everybody can be part of? And I think that’s probably what I’d like to see Cambridge and other places like it become.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So you’re saying that this needs to be addressed. Addressed how?
DUNCAN STOTT: Well in the longer term, it’s got to be ensuring that there are enough homes, and making sure Cambridge is building the number of homes it needs.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So where are you going to put them? Are you going to put them on the Green Belt?
DUNCAN STOTT: I think that we always should be looking at the best (unclear). It’s not all Green Belt that’s very green. Often it’s quite scrubby, soaked in pesticides. Of course you want to protect the most attractive areas and keep green open spaces that are accessible, but we also need to make sure that homes are provided. Every house wants a green site, and I think we need to make sure that going forward we also provide the homes that we need.
DOTTY MCLEOD: I mean I think that you can kind of skew the picture a little bit in saying, oh you know, it’s so hard for young people to buy a house now. For some people it will have always been hard to get on the property ladder. You know, people fifty, sixty years ago, they will have had to sacrifice and compromise to buy their first home.
DUNCAN STOTT: Of course. And that’s also the same for this generation. But just look. The number of home owners has been in decline in the UK since 2003, and this is because .. it isn’t because people aren’t working hard, it’s because the house prices have gone up so much more than what people earn. People are priced out of the housing market, and the only thing that will help in the long term is building houses. We also do need to look at other regulations around mortgages. We do see sometimes far too much debt being pumped into the housing market, huge mortgages that people are taking out lasting 35 years. This is incredibly concerning. So there are other issues as well, but in the long term building homes is absolutely vital.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK Duncan. Thank you very much. Duncan Stott there, who’s from the Priced Out campaign group, commenting on the fact that in the last five years, or since 2010, median house prices in Cambridge have risen by nearly half., just under 47%. I knew .. I knew that house prices in this part of the world were rising like crazy. i didn’t really think it was quite that serious.