1. ITV Report

Commuters move Eastwards to escape London prices

Saffron Walden.

With its tudor buildings and village green, Saffron Walden feels like a glimpse of the region's past

Yet far from representing a rural idyll, people are increasingly moving here to be closer to the capital, not to escape it.

At seven in the morning, the local train station Audley End is packed, as workers head to London.

The capital has a wealth of jobs but also Britain's highest house prices. Many can't afford to live there, especially with a family.

Saffron Walden train station.

One in five workers in London now commute - that's 790,000 people - and many are moving East

Across the Eastern region, Estate Agents Savills say commuters account for 48% of their housing sales, while for Strutt and Parker it's 32% - a 17% increase on last year

Serena Rudd is a Londoner who moved to Saffron Walden 8 years ago - she fell in love with the town, and all she felt it could provide for her two children.

She became a commuter and drives two hours to work each day.

"For what I could sell a two bedroom flat with no garden, I managed to buy a three bedroom house with a garden, near all the amenities, near the supermarket, from walking distance from the schools, just a perfect position. I'd say nearly 70 percent of the people I know in Saffron Walden work in London."

– Serena Rudd, Saffron Walden resident
Serena Rudd, Saffron Walden resident.

There are signs the East of England's growing popularity is pushing up prices. In Uttlesford an average house is now worth 7 times the average annual local salary.

"A commuter who's come to Ulltesford from North London has of course sold their house for a lot of money and they can afford to pay 5 or 6 hundred thousand pounds for a 4 or 5 detached bed on a new estate and they are happy to do so. Around my patch on the A120 virtually all the people there have come out of North London. It is changing the character of the place, we have an enormous increase in traffic."

– Cllr Susan Barker, Uttlesford District Council

Rising prices can leave people who work in Saffron Walden in a difficult position. Eddie Gradica runs his own cafe here, but can't afford to live with his family in the town where he works.

"There are really nice schools and it's nice for the kids and be a nice place to live, but it's just very pricey and it's a really hard thing to buy a new property here."

– Edmir Gradica, Cafe Owner 'The Garden of Edmir'
Edmir Gradica, Cafe Owner 'The Garden of Edmir'.

With the London property market still pushing people out of the capital, the ripples of rising house prices are likely to spread ever further Eastwards, affecting the way all of us live and work.

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