A nurse and a firefighter have to leave Swanage as they can no longer afford to live there. They claim the presence of second homes in the area has driven prices up, making it unsustainable for them to live in the Dorset town.
Their story is a stark reminder of Britain’s affordable housing crisis as, ironically, retained firefighter Joss Gibson will also have to stop work as he can no longer afford to live within four minutes of the city’s train station seaside.
Mr Gibson and his partner Chantel Marriott, who both grew up in Swanage, have lived in a rented house for eight years, raising their three children there. But they have been given formal notice to leave by their landlord who wants the family home for a parent who has not found accommodation either.
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The devastated couple, who were paying £1,000 a month in rent, looked for an affordable long-term rental property in the area but there is ‘absolutely nothing’ in their price range. A single three-bedroom house which cost £1,450 a month was quickly purchased.
Ironically, a second landlord who heard of their plight offered to temporarily house the young family at their holiday home in the nearby village of Langton Matravers while they searched for permanent accommodation. But with so little affordable accommodation available, Mr Gibson and Miss Marriott have to leave the area to settle in a larger town such as Poole.
Property prices in Swanage and the wider Isle of Purbeck have soared in recent years due to the number of second home owners buying properties and turning them into holiday rentals.
The average price paid for a house in Swanage is £429,000 – well above the UK average of £270,000 and more than 16 times the average local wage of £26,000.
Local councilors have warned that Swanage will not have a viable community in the future because the workers who help maintain it, such as carers, teachers and reception staff, cannot afford to be there. live.
Mr Gibson, 33, and Miss Marriott, 31, who have three boys – Jayden, 10, Oakley, eight and Cooper, four – will be evicted from their home at the end of this month. Ms Marriott, who works at Dorset County Hospital and is a local first responder, said: ‘After coming out of a pandemic as people cheered on our doorstep, finding ourselves in this situation without any support is really a kick in the stomach, “Anyone working in the NHS at the moment knows how exhausting it is.
She continued: “Sometimes we are pillars of the community – there have been times when I was the only person on the scene for a cardiac arrest. If I hadn’t been there they would have died.” adding: “But I could make more as a cleaner. They make £15 an hour – I only make £13.20.
The mum commented, “Once you factor in the cost of fuel, energy and food for the kids, there isn’t much left at the end of the month.”, “We were supposed to to be in our forever home My children When we moved in eight years ago, we were told that this could be our forever home.
“When we were given the two months’ notice that we had to leave, I couldn’t accept it. We just don’t know what we’re going to do – there’s absolutely nothing there.” , “My mother even works for a rental agent but she said – ‘there’s just nothing’.
“We are being driven out of the area where we grew up and where we have family. This is simply not acceptable.
“We managed to find a temporary solution in a second home, but more than four minutes from the fire station. Without Joss’ extra income as a firefighter, a mortgage is out of our reach.” The couple also tried other avenues, adding: ‘We were only two months away from getting one for a condo, but it was snatched away.
Local councilor Debby Monkhouse is overseeing the Swanage Community Housing Project which aims to buy land from the local authority to build affordable rental housing for locals. She said: “Waiting for affordable accommodation here is a dreadful and daunting situation for young people. According to surveys, the wait for a two-bedroom house can be up to 29 years.
“The gap between average wages and the average price of a property is one of the highest in the country.”, “According to a 2020 survey, 77% of respondents knew family members who had to move because of the cost of housing.
“We need to be able to provide genuinely affordable accommodation rather than second homes and holiday rentals, which make up around a quarter of Purbeck’s housing stock. In some villages, like Worth Matravers, it’s 90 per cent.”
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