Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 27 June 2013


When Jan and I (aged 24) bought our first home in Mutley in 1979 it cost £13,250, roughly two and a half times my salary as a newly qualified solicitor in Plymouth. That same house would sell today for £170,000, over five times the salary of a modern day legal eagle just starting out.

That is why it is so hard for youngsters to get on the housing ladder. House prices are simply unaffordable for most young couples. Jan and I saved up for our 10% deposit in under two years. The deposit on that same house today would be over £20,000. How long will it take a young starry-eyed couple to save that amount? A recent report suggests over 20 years! Even during the last five credit crunch years house prices have stagnated rather than fallen, and there are now signs that they are starting to increase once more. As any economist will tell you – greater demand than supply will always drive prices up.

The desire to own our own home remains a deep-seated ambition, with over 80% of young people citing it as a major life goal. And why not? Isn't it great to own a little bit of the earth's surface for those few fleeting moments that we inhabit this world and to enjoy that sense of security and belonging that comes with the title deeds? I remember the first night sleeping in our own place all those years ago. I felt that at last my life was up and running.

The trouble is that we do not have enough houses to go around. Partly due to excessive immigration (which we are now getting under control), but largely due to people living so much longer and more families sadly splitting up. These are trends that are unlikely to disappear any time soon.

So we have to face that unpalatable truth that we need to build more houses. There is space to do this. 93% of our island remains rural. We should certainly prioritise so called brown-field sites (where there has previously been development) and it is crucial to protect greenbelt and areas of outstanding natural beauty, but there is no escaping the fact that we will have to build on some green-field sites, like Sherford, on the edges of our towns and cities to meet the demands of a rising generation that wishes to own their own home just like we did.

No more Nimby-ism!

posted by Gary @ 13:47