As more babies are being born to Letchworth and North Hertfordshire mothers, I believe this increase will continue to add pressure to the over stretched Letchworth property market and materially affect the local property market in the years to come.
On the back of eight years of ever incremental increasing birth rates, a significant 6.52 babies were born for every new home that was built in the North Hertfordshire Council area in 2016. I believe this has and will continue to exacerbate the Letchworth housing shortage, meaning demand for housing, be it to buy or rent, has remained high. The high birth rate has meant Letchworth rents and Letchworth property prices have remained resilient, even with the challenges the economy has felt over the last eight years, and they will continue to remain high in the years to come.
This ratio of births to new homes has reached one its highest levels since 1945 (back in the early 1970’s the average was only one and a half births for every household built). Looking at the local birth rates, the latest figures show we in the North Hertfordshire Council area had an average of 63.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. Interestingly, the national average is 61.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 and for the region its 64.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.
The number of births from Letchworth and North Hertfordshire women between the ages of 20 to 29 are close to the national average, but those between 35 and 44 were much higher. However overall, the birth rate is still increasing, and when that fact is combined with the ever-increasing life expectancy in the Letchworth area, the high levels of net migration into the area over the last 14 years (which I talked about in previous articles) and the higher predominance of single person households, this can only mean one thing – a huge increase in the need for housing in Letchworth.
Again, in a previous article a while back, I said more and more people are having children as tenants because they feel safe in rented accommodation. Renting is becoming a choice for Letchworth people.
The planners and politicians of our local authority, central government and people as a whole need to recognise that with individuals living longer, people having more children and whilst divorce rates have dropped recently, they are still at a relatively high level (meaning one household becomes two households) – demand for property is simply outstripping supply.
The simple fact is more Letchworth properties need to be built for
people buying or renting.
Only 1.1% of the Country is built on by houses. Now I am not suggesting we build tower blocks in the middle of the Cotswolds, but the obsession of not building on any green belt land should be carefully re-considered.
Yes, we need to build on brownfield sites first, but there aren’t hundreds of acres of brownfield sites in Letchworth, and what brownfield sites there are, building on them can only work with complementary public investment. Many such sites are contaminated and aren’t financially viable to develop, so unless the Government put their hand in their pocket, they will never be built on.
I am not saying we should crudely go ‘hell for leather’ building on our Green Belt, but we need a new approach to enable some parts of the countryside to be regarded more positively by local authorities, politicians and communities and allow considered and empathetic development. Society in the UK needs to look at the green belts outside their leisure and visual appeal, and assess how they can help to shape the way we live in the most even-handed way. Interesting times!