Call for New Houses as Prices Rise

23/08/2006 (source: icsurreyonline.icnetwork.co.uk)

Huge price rises in the town are causing problems for first-time buyers and local businesses,it has been revealed.

Figures recently released by the Group Registry show the average price of a house in East Grinstead in June 2006 was £271,884 compared to an average of £233,838 in West Sussex.

Experts blamed the hikes on a lack of house building and said that the town would suffer if more affordable new housing was not built.

Phillip Hiatt, of the Halifax, High Street, said that it was a sellers' market and if a house came on the market at the right price it would go within a week. He said: "East Grinstead has good transport links to London and it's half way to the coast so it's very attractive to people moving out of south London."

Gary Silitone, of Taylor-Robinson, said: "There's been a good rise in the last few months. A first-time buyer would have to come in with £125,000 for a one-bedroom property.

East Grinstead Town Council leader James Baldwin said he was worried about the effect of these high prices on local workers. He said: "It's a very serious problem. The council is getting comments from local business leaders who are worried about being able to attract a labour force because of the house prices."

Some groups have suggested that the potential 2,500 new homes earmarked in the East Grinstead Area Action Plan would solve the shortage and bring prices back into line.

Estate agent Mr Hiatt said although he was not 100 per cent behind the action plan, newbuilds could cool the market. He said: "House prices won't fall but the rate of increase would."

But Dr Michael Vickers, spokesman for the Three Counties Group, part of the Post Referendum Campaign, who campaigned against the 2,500 homes,disagreed. He said: "If you look at Cambridge or Northampton where large new developments have been built in recent years,the new houses have actually been more expensive than the older ones."

He added that if the developers thought house prices in the area would fall following the development it would put them off the project altogether.

Councillor James Baldwin said although he thought new houses could help the housing crisis, developers needed to make sure that the right type of accommodation was built. He said: "Everybody realises that there has to be additional building but what we don't want is large developments for executives in the Gatwick area. It has to work for the local community.We need affordable housing so that young people can afford to buy."

Dr Vickers said: "I have seen no evidence that second or third generation workers from East Grinstead will get the affordable housing.It is far more likely that workers arriving through Gatwick will get their hands on them."

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