Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Helping Villagers Stay Close to Their Roots

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Helping Villagers Stay Close to Their Roots

Article excerpt

Helping more first-time buyers get a foot on the property ladder through the creation of affordable housing is a Government aim.

And a scheme is doing just that in the heart of Tynedale. Two Castles Housing Association is working with Tynedale Council to provide high-quality, affordable housing in two villages.

With idyllic landscapes and easy commuting distances to Newcastle, Tynedale has become a victim of its own success.

Homebuyers are now attracted to the area from far and wide, so house prices are rising and demand for property is high ( making it more difficult for local people to find a home on their doorstep.

But Tynedale Council is fighting back and has announced all new housing until 2007 must be half made-up of affordable homes. It has formed an alliance with Two Castles Housing Association to help meet this target and provide affordable homes for rent.

Average house prices in Tynedale have risen 40% since 2001, in an area where the average wage is just pounds 20,000.

An average property in the district costs about pounds 175,000.

Although some lenders will let househunters borrow many times their annual income, the average is two-and-a-half. So buying a pounds 175,000 house would need a pounds 70,000 annual pay packet.

Two Castles Housing Association, in partnership with Tynedale Council, has developed five two- and three-bedroom homes and two bungalows ( a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom ( for rent at Chapel Close, in the popular village of West Woodburn.

Two Castles has also bought four three-bedroom semi-detached homes from Newman Developments at Briar Hill in the highly desirable village of Bellingham.

As well as these shared-ownership properties, Briar Hill also has 18 privately-owned houses.

Two Castles operations director Stephanie Murphy said: "Affordable housing for first-time buyers and key workers has become a big issue. …

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