Is the pandemic property boom pushing locals out of North Yorkshire's towns and villages?


With its quaint villages and rolling hills, the Yorkshire Dales have long attracted second home owners.

But the pandemic has turbocharged the number of people seeking that "countryside bolthole."

Many of those who began working from home desired more space, those who continued working saved money and the idea of holidaying in the UK became much more appealing.

But, this sudden demand coupled with the stamp duty holiday, is pushing up the average cost of housing in rural areas beyond what some locals are able to pay.

Hairdresser Anita Ibbotson and her family have lived in and around Leyburn her entire life. She rents a chair in a salon in the town.

But as house prices have soared, she's been forced out and now lives over thirty miles.

Not only that, she doesn't drive and because public transport won't always get her to work on time, she often finds herself crashing on her family's sofa.

"All my family are here and I have to move away.

While rural areas have long suffered from an undersupply of affordable housing, demand for holiday lets and second homes have increased so much over the past year, people like Anita fear their chance of living where they grew up has now passed.

From June 2020 to June 2021 the housing market has drastically changed in the county:

It's a mirrored picture over in Whitby. Estate agent Nick Henderson has owned his agency there for six years and says it's never been busier. But as people outbid each other for their dream property, it is having an impact on locals, particularly first time buyers.

"Everyone's coming in and going above guide, because they just want to secure that property.

"Your first time buyer families, they're now moving further out or even looking at the likes of Skelton or going over towards Middlesbrough so you're now getting local families which are moving out, which is something that you don't want."

Dale Smith manages holiday properties across the North - in the last twelve months the number he's taken on in Whitby has doubled.

"Probably 75% of our new clients are people getting into the holiday let sector. I think we saw that staycations were increasing pre-Covid and Covid's just really accelerated that growth to be honest."

And while this highlights the growth of people snapping up second homes and holiday lets, he says that the tourism boost it brings for the ears means it's worthwhile.

"During the pandemic we saw shops close local businesses going out of business ultimately, so we need the tourism to survive." 

Cllr Yvonne Peacock has lived in Bainbridge in the Yorkshire Dales her whole life and has the area change drastically over the years.

More than a quarter of homes in the Dales are now classed as "not lived in" all year round - and in Richmondshire house prices shot up more than anywhere else in England - up an average of £65,000 on last year.

She has nothing against people buying holiday lets and second homes in the area, but says more does need to be done to help locals get on the ladder.

"If people buying these homes bring their business here and contribute to our local economy then that can only be a good thing.

"But if they come to work from home, order their shopping online and leave properties empty for half the year, then there's a real a risk that young families will just continue to leave the area."