December 12 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, August 15, 2013
First time buyers are fuelling a mini housing boom in West Norfolk as the government’s Help to Buy scheme gives them a foothold on the property ladder.
One developer, which is starting work on more than 100 new homes in King’s Lynn, said they were selling “off plan” - with properties reserved by buyers before a brick had been laid.
Morston Assets, which is building another 155 houses on the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area (NORA), said government-backed schemes to help borrowers had helped to kick start the market.
It came as figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government showed house building was up by 7pc year-on-year.
Help to Buy, which was launched last month, enables first-time buyers to buy a home on the new development with just a 5pc deposit.
“It’s been fairly slow during the financial crisis but the sun’s starting to come out again,” said Morston Assets chairman Tom Harrison.
“The Help to Buy and funding for lending programmes are both making a significant difference. They’re buying them off the plan. That’s something really new.”
Hayleigh Marks-Burton, sales negotiator with estate agents Abbotts, said: “The thing about these properties is they’re available on Help to Buy and that really does help. It’s a really great scheme.”
Buyers can buy a home with a deposit of just 5pc of the asking price under the scheme. The government gives them an interest-free loan of up to 20pc of the property’s value, with the remaining 75pc being covered by a mortgage.
Morston originally hoped to build 900 new homes on the NORA, as part of a £250m scheme to regenerate land around the site of a former fertiliser factory, in South Lynn. But just over 100 have been built, as recesssion put the brakes on construction.
Mr Harrison said a further 150 properties would be built in groups of 20. He added: “It will all depend on demand, on the rate people are prepared to buy houses, but we in building, the developers, can meet the demand.”
Government figures out yesterday showed annual housing starts in England were up by 7pc in the twelve months to June 2013 compared with the year before.
Communities Minister and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: “Under the last administration, house building fell to its lowest peacetime rate since the 1920s.
“But today’s figures clearly show government action is bringing confidence back into the housing market and getting Britain building again, with starts increasing by a third year-on-year.
“We’ve already delivered over 330,000 new homes over the past 3 years, and 150,000 affordable homes. There is more to do, but today’s figures reinforce the momentum towards getting Britain building again.”
Rhian Kelly, director for business envrionment policy at the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) said: “These are early signs of a pick-up but we need to put it in perspective. We’ve been falling woefully short of building the homes we need for decades. There’s huge pent-up demand which is just not being met.
“Help to Buy is a bold move to make mortgages more affordable but it’s only one part of the jigsaw.
“We need a planning system which gets new properties built quickly, more investment in affordable homes now, not after the next election, and a stronger private rental market.”
New energy-efficient two and three-bed homes on the NORA, priced £130,000 - £147,500, are part of the Yours South Lynn community.
It includes a new primary school, community centre and parks, while work is due to start on a doctor’s surgery and business centre later this year.
Similar communities are planned for regeneration projects elsewhere, including one on the outskirts of Glasgow.
Mr Harrison said: “We’re very pleased with the community mechanics of our bit of NORA. We’re pleased with the very low level of crime and anti-social behaviour, which we can prove is down to how well people know their neighbours.”
Morston is working with Anglia Ruskin University and the Open University to offer distance learning to people living on Yours South Lynn. So far, two residents have been accepted onto OU courses.
“The biggest constraint to people moving into further education is the distance, namely the difficulty finding the bus fare,” said Mr Harrison.
“With modern technology, you jolly well ought to be able to bring education and teaching into the community.”