Shropshire houses out of reach to first-time buyers
Rural residents are finding it hard to get onto the housing ladder as house prices in many parts of the county rise about the national average.
Figures show parts of Shropshire have average house prices of almost £350,000, way out of the reach of most first-time buyers.
Shropshire Council agreed on Thursday to loan funding to its new housing company, Cornovii Developments Ltd, to start a rolling programme of house building.
The loan is worth £14 million and the council also formally agreed to transfer two pieces of land to the new company so it can start development.
The sites are brownfield land at Monkmoor, in Shrewsbury, and Ifton Heath, in Oswestry.
The council’s deputy leader, councillor Steve Charmley, speaking before the meeting, said building homes people could afford could also help attract new businesses to the county, bringing jobs for the area.
“Key working housing is desperately needed so we can show big companies Shropshire has the infrastructure it needs to come to the county,” he said.
Cornovii says its aim is to build homes to plug the gap in the county’s housing market.
A report to the full council meeting outlined the worries over housing.
It says the cost of homes is a pressing issue with a county-wide affordability gap of over £42,000.
However, it masks significant variations across the area.
The England average is just over £301,000.
In Oswestry prices are much lower, an average of £143,896 while in Shrewsbury it is £195,111.
But prices then jump with Shifnal an average £234,513, Church Stretton £299,899, Bishops Castle £279,925 and Much Wenlock £349,860, well over the national average.
In the last decade over 73 per cent of all new housing development occurred in Shrewsbury and the five market towns of Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Market Drayton,Oswestry and Shifnal.
“There is little development activity at scale in the more remote, rural areas adding to acute housing pressures in those communities,” Mark Barrow, Shropshire’s director of place said. He said there was a significant demand for affordable rented homes.
The social housing waiting list has remained consistent since 2017 with a current waiting list of over 5,300 people.
Cornovii says is looking at almost 50 sites across the county which, subject to planning permission could be developed. Each would be developed as per local need, whether to buy or to rent, for first time buyers, key worker housing and housing for people downsizing for example.
Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said a host of site are being considered by the company.
He said: “These two sites are only the beginning: the board will be considering a proposal to start feasibility studies to develop another site at their next meeting, and 48 more have also already been identified. It’s important that we keep the process moving.
“Some of the profit that the company makes will be used to buy land in future so that it can build homes in areas of our county that are unviable for private housebuilders.”