WORKING families are being priced out of Yorkshire’s rural areas and market towns as they increasingly become the preserve of pensioners and the better-off, according to a new report.
Average house prices in Hambleton, Harrogate and Ryedale are more than 12 times the typical salaries earned in those areas.
All three districts are expecting to see the number of households including an 85-year-old rise by more than half by 2021 while Richmondshire is likely to see a 61 per cent increase.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation which produced the report, said: “The traditional picture of the English countryside is fast becoming extinct.
“We know how difficult many under 40s are finding it to afford a home in towns and cities, but it’s becoming impossible for people to put down roots in our villages and market towns.
“The unaffordability crisis in rural areas is putting local shops pubs and schools at risk of closure and ageing populations are putting pressure on communities.”
Across the region, the number of people in work but still needing to claiming housing benefit has more than doubled since 2009 with the highest rise - at 167 per cent - seen in Richmondshire.
The average income needed for a typical mortgage in North Yorkshire is close to £50,000.
Graham Biggs, chief executive of the Rural Services Network, said: “Unless rural wages rise or rural house prices fall or become more affordable, families who want to live and work in the countryside will continue to be forced out.”
Harrogate has the highest average house price in the region at around £264,000 and is expected to see more than 4,000 new households created by 2021.
Coun Mike Chambers, Harrogate Council’s cabinet member for housing, said it allocates “significant amounts of land” for housing and has policies in place to encourage a mix of housing types.
He added: “The council recognises that demand for housing still outstrips supply and is currently working to produce a new Local Plan which will identify sufficient land to meet objectively assessed housing needs. However, whilst clearly pivotal, building houses is only part of the solution.”
The council works with housing associations and others to make houses in the district more affordable, he said.
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins, the MP for Keighley, said: “Getting Britain building is a key part of our long-term economic plan, which is why we’ve invested billions in our affordable housing programme which has so far delivered nearly 200,000 homes, with more than 11,000 of those built in Yorkshire.”