Is a £250,000 Starter Home really affordable for Chichester’s first-time buyers?

Early artist's impression of Lower Graylingwell, where 80 of the 160 new homes could be the Government's Starter Homes
Early artist's impression of Lower Graylingwell, where 80 of the 160 new homes could be the Government's Starter Homes

New starter homes are coming to the area – but they will cost first-time buyers £250,000 to own.

The eye-watering figure was revealed by a district councillor at a recent meeting and highlights the mammoth task young people now face to get on to the property ladder locally.

Graylingwell in Chichester has been named as one of five sites in the south east to pioneer the government scheme, where homes will be built specifically for people under the age of 40 to purchase.

Up to 80 starter homes could be built as part of the new 160-home development on the former hospital site.

Announcing that the cost of the new starter homes would be £250,000 at a recent Chichester Chamber of Commerce meeting, district councillor Gillian Keegan, cabinet member for commercial services, said: “I think it’s a challenge for the whole of the south east. In fact, when I stood for Parliament up north, for £60,000 you can get a four-bedroom house – it’s a south east problem.”

She was responding to a woman in the audience who said homes for first-time buyers should be ‘a lot less’, adding: “I have young children and all their friends are in the same boat.”

Cllr Keegan added: “We need a mix of houses, you’re not going to find a £70,000 house in Chichester, the land itself is not going to be able to afford that.”

The starter homes will be sold at a 
20 per cent discount to market value and capped at £250,000 outside London.

Thousands of new homes will be built across Chichester and Arun districts over the next decade. But with property prices rising by 11 per cent in Bognor, nine per cent in Chichester and 13 per cent in Midhurst between 20140-15, the grave concern is residents will continue to be priced out of owning their own home while locked into high rental prices.

Chichester was named the sixth most expensive place in the country for first-time buyers in June. The National Housing Federation placed only Kensington, Chelsea, Westminster, Camden, Elmbridge, and Hammersmith and Fulham ahead of the district.

The average one or two-bedroom house in Chichester is now six times the average household income.

To combat this, Chichester District Council is continuing to build a record number of affordable properties.

A spokesperson said: “We know that house prices in the Chichester District are high which makes it hard for people to find a place to live.

“As part of our corporate plan we are committed to improving the provision of and access to suitable housing.

“In 2014–2015 we delivered a record number of affordable properties.

“The council’s target was 140 and we delivered 227.”

The council added it expected to deliver 195 affordable homes, including flats for older people, shared equity and discounted sale homes this year, with a further 183 in the pipeline for 2016-17.

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