The recent announcement that the New Forest District Council will not let ‘outsiders’ buy new properties in certain areas is bound to spark a wave of heated debate.
According to the council, the restrictions are being imposed because an influx of ‘townies’ with well-lined pockets are buying houses and pushing up prices so that local residents are priced out of the market.
So if you do not work in the New Forest or have not lived there for seven years, you could struggle to buy certain properties in some villages.
But does the New Forest’s attempts to conserve their local area and keep it affordable to locals ultimately amount to discrimination?
On the one hand it is easy to sympathise with individuals that live and work in the New Forest but cannot afford to buy their own home, because prices have been pushed up by non-local buyers wanting a place in the country ‘ particularly if properties are only being bought as holiday homes.
Many communities in Wales have already suffered from this, with villages left deserted in the winter months. Clearly such a high influx of part-time residents can only have a negative impact on the local community ‘ both economically and socially. Holiday homes that have been burnt to the ground act as testimony to the level of anger that can result.
Problems are also developing in London’s commuter belt villages, with high-earning Londoners moving out to live in the country and unwittingly forcing up prices.
However, on the flip side of the coin, one has to question how fair it is preventing people from buying the property of their choice ‘ especially if it is to become their home and not just somewhere for long weekends. After all, surely we should all be free to decide where in the country we want to live?
While recognising there is a problem, this may not be the most acceptable way of solving it ‘ implementation is likely to be plagued with difficulties, how the council will determine whether would-be residents are local and have the right to buy a New Forest home will be no easy task.
Then there is the fact that New Forest residents are not the only people who are finding it hard to buy in their own area. Thousands of young Londoners are struggling to buy their first home in the city. Is it fair that they should move on, because they cannot afford to stay?