Uckfield’s homes ‘unaffordable’

The garage site in Saxelby Road which Melton Council is transforming into new affordable homes
The garage site in Saxelby Road which Melton Council is transforming into new affordable homes

As a report published this week shows, more and more young people are forced to rent property or live with their parents as they cannot afford a home of their own.

And according to a report in The Guardian last week and Sunday’s Observer, one of the South East’s towns which tops the ‘unaffordability’ stakes is Uckfield.

Writer Mark Townsend interviewed families in the town and was greet with hoots of derision when he asked whether they could afford to buy a property. He quotes Kayleigh Waters, a mum with one child who said even though she and her partner have drawn up a five-year-plan to get on Uckfield’s housing ladder, both remain sceptical.

She’s been renting in the town for eight years. Her friend, mother Kerryanne O’Keefe said: “There’s just no way we can afford to buy, we’re stuck in a rut.”

The article quotes a report by the National Housing Federation which found rural areas are witnessing an exodus of people in their thirties as escalating house prices outstrip homes. The number of people aged 30-44 has dropped nearly nine per cent in the countryside over the last decade while numbers rise in urban areas.

Wealden District Council was found to have the highest exodus of young families in the South East with 13 per cent having moved out over the past decade.

Uckfield branch manager of Freeman Forman, Robin Smith said the average age of a first-time buyer was 36, ‘unless we are talking about new, two-bed homes on one of the small estates with help given by the Government.’ Agents Mansell McTaggart revealed that just three per cent of its local sales are to young families.

The price of homes in Uckfield bucks the national trend and has been nine per cent up on the previous year according to Rightmove. Detached homes in Wealden regularly fetch more than £500,000 compared with a national average of £324,602. Some young families are even moving to the London area where prices are higher but better wages and London weighting bring them within reach.

Martha Mayes from the town’s CAB office said a lack of social housing was compounded by a loss of benefits with some young families being offered temporary accommodation almost 20 miles away in Eastbourne.

New housing scheduled for the south west of the town will deliver 1,000 new dwelling units which must incorporate 350 homes designated ‘affordable.’ Planners hope this Government directed policy might go some small way to relieving an overheating housing market in the town.