Opinion: North/South divide or North/South chasm?

Article

18 December, 2014

With constant stories of soaring house prices in London and the South East the picture, according to recent press reports, in the North West is of stark contrast. It has even been stated that the North West housing market is reaching breaking point.

The National Housing Federation has revealed the extent of the fragmented housing crisis across the region. Despite house prices being below the national average in the North West at £158,926, prices are still beyond the reach of local pay-packets, with people expected to pay more than six and a half times the average income to own a home.

The average salary of those in the North West of £24,050 doesn't come close to the £36,326 required for an average mortgage in the region, pricing thousands of workers and families out of owning a home, with some areas including South Lakeland, Trafford, Cheshire East and Cheshire West having an average house price of over £200,000.

While these areas are suffering from a housing shortage, there are also places in desperate need of regeneration and pockets of poor quality older homes which don't meet the housing needs and aspirations of local people including the Burnley, Hyndburn, Wigan and Blackburn areas.

There is a huge need for new affordable housing in these areas. It is reported that every new affordable home built in the North West adds £90,972 to the regional economy and creates 2.1 jobs.

With the election looming and promises of major investment into transport in the region being made, will this boost the North's economy in its own right and provide investment into those areas that need it or merely serve to make access to the South East easier and faster for the wealthy.

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