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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Vultures land on Cumbrian properties

WELCOME to a few home truths.

About a third of all inquiries about Allerdale properties are made by people from outside the area.

For them, TV programmes like Escape To The Country have become a signpost to riches.

With the property market in the Lake District now saturated, and parts of Eden and Carlisle out of reach, their attention has turned to the relatively easy pickings here.

As a result, we are seeing a new phenomenon for this part of the world: the hot property market.

The cost of housing in some parts of West Cumbria has gone up by nearly half in a year.

It is a sellers’ market, with very little supply and huge demand.

Estate agents barely need to advertise certain properties.

It is tempting to celebrate this influx of buyers; but only if they bring genuine spending power to the West Cumbrian economy.

The arrival of 200 civil servants attached to the new Nuclear Decommissioning Agency will certainly pump money into the area.

However, we are uneasy about the emergence of a get-rich-quick brigade of outsiders who’re snapping up cheap houses by the dozen to rent.

They’re squeezing out young, local first-time buyers.

Many low income families now need help to simply get on the bottom rung of the housing ladder.

We therefore applaud the Government approval given this week for £8.5 million towards new, affordable homes in Allerdale.

Matched by a similar figure from housing associations, this represents the biggest social housing programme in the borough since the 1980s.

It is a vital initiative to avert the “ghetto” scenario; an area divided between pockets of affluent house owners and struggling tenants who flit between rented accommodation.

Local councils must also now consider their new option to increase council tax charges on second homes.

The swift changes in our housing sector demand these serious, long term responses.

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