New big city homes 'lacking in affordability'
For many years now, the housing crisis has been a major issue for first-time buyers seeking to get on the housing ladder, leading to the private rental sector becoming an increasingly important source of supply for those not yet able to find the means to purchase a property.
Although property price rises have stalled in recent months, the legacy of above-inflation increases being the norm for many years has been that the majority of homes have been deemed 'unaffordable', as the cost of buying them has become several times the average salary.
For this reason, great emphasis has been placed on the building of 'affordable' housing within the reach of the average person. In London, it was a central theme of mayor Sadiq Khan's successful election campaign. But in other cities, especially Manchester, it appears the picture is grim.
A Guardian Cities investigation has found very low levels of affordable homes are being built in some big cities, with many developments featuring none at all.
Manchester has been singled out as a particularly alarming case. Not a single one of the 14,667 dwellings in major developments that have received planning permission in the last two years will be for sale at an 'affordable' price. This flouts rules stipulating 20 per cent of the homes should be affordable.
The city may be building very actively - as one glance at the plethora of cranes and half-built skyscrapers will confirm - but with the average professional now priced out of the city centre they have to look to other areas. The problem, of course, is that purchasing a home in suburbia is harder now than in the past.
Indeed, even renting there may be harder soon. As Manchester's sole Liberal Democrat councillor John Leech said: "It is not beyond the realm of probability that key workers will struggle to rent property in [south Manchester suburbs] Didsbury and Chorlton and in the city centre." He called for the Labour-run city council to publish a recent appraisal by housing charity Shelter highlighting the lack of affordable homes.
The Guardian study indicated low levels of affordable building in other cities too, like Sheffield and Nottingham. Agents and landlords may find they need to be flexible to deal with a major urban affordability crisis.