Shortage fuels house prices

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THE stark warning from Mark Carney about rising house prices has found a strong echo in new figures showing asking prices increasing this month by an average of 3.6 per cent, the largest rise ever recorded in May.

A closer looker at the Rightmove House Price Index, however, shows that – while the Governor of the Bank of England is certainly right to sound a note of concern – the increase in prices indicates not so much an unsustainable housing bubble growing across the country as the latest vivid indication of the growing divide between London and the rest of Britain.

While prices in the capital are rising by £4,500-a-week, across the rest of the country the average rise is £1,500-a-week. And although London’s annual rise is now a remarkable 16.3 per cent, the figure is only 4.9 per cent for the remainder of Britain.

In this region, prices remain below the peaks reached during the last boom and it may be the case that the new, stringent mortgage-application checks introduced last month will help to ensure a better balance between supply and demand at precisely the right time.

But regardless of whether or not the Yorkshire housing market is eventually dragged in London’s wake towards another boom-bust scenario, the fact remains that Mr Carney’s remarks about shortage of supply are as relevant to this region as anywhere else.

The housing shortage is also as deep-rooted here as it is elsewhere in the country as successive governments have failed dismally to meet demand. And while the coalition came to power bristling with ideas for energising the planning system and incentivising local councils to provide land, the present situation is all the evidence needed to demonstrate that these policies, too, have failed.

In the short term, at least, then, the way forward must be to unlock more brownfield sites – former industrial land which could provide space for 2.5 million houses across the country, according to a recent study.

It is the costs involved in building on these sites that have made developers head for greenfield spaces – and consequent battles with planners and residents – and this is why the Government must now waste no time in shifting incentives from local authorities to developers if there is to be realistic hope of meeting the growing demand.

Business cycle: Region’s ride to prosperity

EVEN as anticipation increases ahead of the Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire in July, with accommodation being snapped up across the county and prospective visitors planning their holidays around Le Grand Départ, it is said that the region still offers scope for yet greater volumes of tourism.

Of course. How could it be otherwise? As all those lucky enough to live here know, the attractions of Yorkshire are of a magnitude that would sustain tourism in even greater amounts than at present and that is notwithstanding the superlative efforts of Welcome to Yorkshire in boosting visitor numbers over the past few years.

This is why it is important that the Tour de France sets the pace for boosting the Yorkshire economy in the years ahead. As organising committee chairman Sir Rodney Walker says, summer 2014 will be one to remember for a very long time.

But, as all involved recognise, memories alone will not sustain the region’s economy. Le Grand Départ must be just that – a departure, not an end point, and the beginning of a whole series of events and initiatives which will bring people back to Yorkshire time and again, ensuring that the economic boost which the county will experience this year is only the beginning of Yorkshire’s journey to prosperity.

Cup magic: Tigers earn their stripes

HULL CITY’S FA Cup dream may be over, but the belief that the Tigers can build on their achievements next season will only have been strengthened among all those who saw the team battle Arsenal almost to a

standstill at Wembley on Saturday.

These two sides did everything they could to restore lustre to the Cup by providing one of the most memorable finals in recent years and, though Hull’s disappointment at the final result is understandable, all involved should be proud of their part in providing

such magnificent entertainment.

The Tigers’ role as Yorkshire’s sole outpost of Premier League football is an onerous one, but they have proved more than equal to the task.

Avoiding relegation was always the primary task and reaching the FA Cup final an unexpected bonus. But their performance on Saturday won hearts across the nation and gave hope that Premier League football in East Yorkshire is here to stay.