Rising rents - set to pass £1,000 a month by 2020 - could turn Harrogate into a ghost town, experts have warned.
A rental crisis is emerging in Harrogate, says the National Housing Federation (NHF), which could price a whole generation out of their homes.
Latest figures show that the cost of renting a Harrogate house - averaging £709 a month - is rising twice as fast as the cost of buying a home.
“It’s going to make it really hard for people to set down roots in Harrogate,” warned the federation’s regional manager, Rob Warm. “A whole generation of people will be too wealthy to get social housing but too poor to rent. More and more, Harrogate is becoming a town of older people.”
The NHF says that young people make up much of the workforce at two of the town’s biggest employers, Harrogate Hospital and the International Centre.
They support a big part of Harrogate’s economy, said Mr Warm, but were having to be “bussed in” as they couldn’t afford to live here.
Graduate Rob Stanworth, 28, says he had to live with his parents after university while he put aside money to save for a house in Starbeck. “The thought of paying however many hundreds of pounds a month in rent, that you could be putting away for a deposit, is crazy,” he said. “People want to live in Harrogate, it’s a nice place. But young graduates, who are bright and have something to offer, are being forced out.
“They go away to university but when they finish, they can’t afford to live here. The town is losing its talent.”
Alan Jenks, head of housing at Harrogate Borough Council, said it was a “vicious circle”.
“People can’t buy because they can’t afford deposits and there’s less development anyway,” he said. “This forces them into private rented, which pushes up rents.”
In Harrogate, he said, the council was hampered by a lack of land to build on, made worse by government funding cuts of more than 50 per cent.
“The supply of affordable homes is drying up because of lack of development,” he said. “Sadly, this is a vicious cycle if ever there was one.”
The NHF’s latest survey, Home Truths, says the only solution to the problem is to build more homes before the situation worsens.
“Building houses is not always a bad thing,” said Mr Warm.
“If not, what are the long term prospects for a town that caters only for older people?”
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