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We’re levelling up: North/South house price divide is narrowing

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Somewhere in the latest blizzard of record high house price figures and the surge in sales triggered by the stamp duty holiday, one thing has been overlooked: the great North South divide is decreasing.

A home is still far more expensive in London than Middlesbrough, but the difference is diminishing. 

For example, Zoopla says house prices in the capital rose a meagre 0.3 per cent in the past year, whereas in Middlesbrough they soared 10.06 per cent.

On the rise: Waterfront homes in Scarborough's harbour. Property website Zoopla reports the hottest housing markets are in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North-West

On the rise: Waterfront homes in Scarborough’s harbour. Property website Zoopla reports the hottest housing markets are in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North-West

And the same website reports that the country’s hottest housing markets right now are not in leafy Surrey or posh Central London, but in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North-West, as the pandemic property world undergoes its own ‘levelling up’ exercise.

It’s not just prices. The time between listing a home for sale and a buyer’s offer being accepted in the North of England is now three weeks quicker than in 2019, while the areas boasting the fastest sales are Wigan, Barnsley and Burnley, claims Zoopla. 

Again, contrast that with London, where homes now take two weeks longer to find a buyer than in 2019.

Nor is the trend likely to be a flash in the pan, with estate agency Savills forecasting that the North-West and Yorkshire and the Humber will lead UK house price growth with rises of 6.0 per cent in 2022 and 5.5 per cent in 2023.

And by the end of 2025, Savills predicts the North West will enjoy an eye-watering 28.8 per cent rise overall.

Across the UK, the average increase is set to be 21.1 per cent, while London stubbornly stays in the slow lane with only 12.6 per cent growth.

‘Some of the price rises we have seen were overdue; country prices had lagged well behind London for years and some re-balancing was required,’ says James Greenwood, managing director of the Stacks Property Search buying agency.

There are exceptions to the rule; the biggest of all being Cornwall, where demand has reached a record high since the start of the pandemic.

Tiny St Mawes sits on the south Cornwall coast, lined with holiday homes and fashionable hotels such as the Tresanton and The Idle Rocks.

It has seen the biggest rise in average prices of any seaside town over the past year, jumping nearly 48 per cent from £339,912 to £501,638 — the largest rise in the ‘race for space’ as people have quit the big cities for countryside and coast.

Can Cornwall keep this kind of appeal — and price tag — when homes in the north are still much cheaper?

Josephine Ashby, of John Bray & Partners, one of the county’s top agencies, says: ‘Cornwall has always been popular for its incredible landscapes and coastline. 

There’s a limited supply of property but there’s a broad demographic of buyers, so we believe confidence will remain.’

However, when looked at in terms of the two halves of England, even that stellar house price rise in Cornwall isn’t enough to balance out the much more widespread increases in the North, according to Rightmove’s Tim Bannister.

He says: ‘It’s the regions of Britain further north that are leading the way. While the gap remains large, with average prices in London still 2.9 times higher than those in the North, this ratio is now at its smallest since 2013.’

And he continues: ‘So far 2021 is proving to be the year of the northern mover, not only satisfying their pent-up housing needs, but in doing so also narrowing some of the huge price gap with London.’

Every house differs, but the Office for National Statistics has a comparison table for how much every square metre of ‘house’ costs in different parts of the country.

So a square metre in London’s Westminster costs £16,246, while in Rugby it’s £2,081. In leafy Winchester, it’s £3,910 but in Scarborough, a square metre of house would cost £1,567.

And in East Devon, where there are plenty of holidays homes to inflate prices, you pay £2,605 for a square metre; in South Tyneside it’s a snip at £1,319.

That means, obviously, that in most circumstances you get more space for your money if you head north and you get much less if you buy in the South. But things are changing — and fast.

In recent months, the Government has announced that part of the Treasury will be based in Darlington and some officials from the Ministry of Housing and Communities will move from London to Wolverhampton.

Some of Channel 4 has moved to Leeds and HSBC and Amazon are locating some of their operations to Manchester. The result will be that house prices in these locations will be rising soon.

Thanks to our changing priorities and the pandemic, suddenly things appear much less grim up north. 

On the market… out of the capital 

Lancashire: With four bedrooms and scope for a fifth, this single-storey Victorian home in Rossendale has plenty of character and a walled gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01706 531 315. £500,000

Lancashire: With four bedrooms and scope for a fifth, this single-storey Victorian home in Rossendale has plenty of character and a walled gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01706 531 315. £500,000

North Yorkshire: This five-bedroom, grade II-listed house, formerly two cottages, is in the hamlet of Low Row. There are lots of walks in surrounding Swaledale. Savills.com, 01904 617 820. £550,000

North Yorkshire: This five-bedroom, grade II-listed house, formerly two cottages, is in the hamlet of Low Row. There are lots of walks in surrounding Swaledale. Savills.com, 01904 617 820. £550,000

Cumbria: There are eight bedrooms in this home in Kirkby Stephen. The house has three acres and sits in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Knightfrank.com, 01423 429 050. £950,000

Cumbria: There are eight bedrooms in this home in Kirkby Stephen. The house has three acres and sits in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Knightfrank.com, 01423 429 050. £950,000

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Instagrammer captures abandoned Welsh property in series of eerie photographs

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Who would live in a house like this? Instagrammer photographs abandoned Welsh property – complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday, dishes still in the sink and a newspaper dating back to 1956

  • Photographs reveal the rooms have been untouched for decades and house opened bottle of Champagne  
  • Discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales 
  • Kyle said: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory’ 
  • ***Do YOU know who lived in the abandoned house? Contact izzy.nikolic@mailonline.co.uk*** 

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An abandoned Welsh house has been captured in a series of eerie photographs complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday and dishes still in the sink.  

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx.’  

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. 

A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up and dishes still in the sink.

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: 'Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can't be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx'

Pictured: A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx’

The property has been dubbed 'Granddad's abandoned house' after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property 

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex (pictured) while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

Mr Urbex said: 'I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn't too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open'

Mr Urbex said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open’

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales.

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home.’

He said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open.

‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many.

‘The porch area had been trashed, however the seating still remained intact and of course the champagne bottle for his 90th birthday still left on the fireplace.

He added: 'Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many'

Dishes are left undone in the sink in the kitchen

He added: ‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house. He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was’

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone's 'dream family home'

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home’

Mr Urbex added: 'Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind'

Mr Urbex added: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind’

‘I found it quite sad really given all the memories just left to be forgotten about. As well as the house there was a caravan hidden at the back in all the overgrowth which had more memories inside, old books and so on.

‘I managed to uncover an old bike in the shed which looked like it had been there quite a while.

‘Alongside all of these findings I came across a newspaper dated from November 3 1956.’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house.

He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was.

‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind.’

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Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

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Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

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Over 40 complaints made about ‘unsuitable’ books on English curriculum

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Some books being studied by Junior Cert and Leaving Cert English students feature “disturbing and sick content” and material that is “clearly unsuitable for minors”, complainants have told the Department of Education.

The department has received more than 40 complaints on the issue in recent months, with one email to Minister Norma Foley describing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as “nothing but sadistic, upsetting and of no moral learning or value to students”.

The acclaimed dystopian novel is based in a patriarchal totalitarian state where women, or handmaids, are forced to produce children for commanders.

One “concerned parent” said they were “perturbed” that their teenager was studying the novel Room by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

‘Questionable’

They said many of the topics in the book were “questionable” and that greater consideration should have been given before the book was “forced upon sensitive people in this day and age”. The Booker-shortlisted story is told from the perspective of a young boy held captive in a small room with his mother.

The emails, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, were from parents, one of whom said they were “appealing to and begging” the department to change the curriculum.

One parent expressed “shock and concern” about the prescribed reading lists, citing a perceived “lack of vigilance regarding the age appropriateness” of some books. “The material is offensive, abhorrent and clearly unsuitable for minors,” they said.

The curriculum could “only be described as the sexualisation and desensitising of our children… there needs to be an investigation into this whole sordid affair”, another complaint said.

‘Enslaving’

One person said the book list was “enslaving” students to “abominable ungodly content”, while another sarcastically suggested there was “nothing to stop” Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestselling explicit erotic romance novel, being added.

Some emails were directed towards Ms Foley personally, and called for her to be fired and “held directly responsible”. The department’s response stated that the curriculum at all levels was considered to be for all learners “regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background, gender or orientation”.

It said it was important that each book was viewed “in its entirety rather than being reduced to particular sections which may be especially controversial”, and that the texts had “strong literary pedigrees” and featured on curricula internationally.

There were also several emails sent to the department in defence of the curriculum, predominantly from students.

The text-list working groups for each subject, convened by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, are comprised of teachers, third-level lecturers, staff from relevant support agencies and experts in children’s and young adult literature. The curriculum did not change this year though the Minister said it would be reviewed in the coming months.


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