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Where's Home: High property prices and low wages forcing young people out of Exmoor

Second homes are driving house prices up Credit: ITV West Country

There could be “no young people left on Exmoor” because of high house prices and low wages, it's been claimed.

Exmoor Young Voices is warning it is becoming increasingly difficult for younger people to get onto the housing ladder, meaning many are moving to other parts of the country.

Prices on Exmoor have been gradually driven up by the large amount of people buying second homes. As a result more young people are being forced to live with their families for longer.

28 year-old Will Lock is someone affected by the problem. He lives in Hawkridge with his parents and grandparents.

It holds you back – you can’t move on with your life in as far as you want to be able to go out and have your own homes but it’s not always possible to do so in this area. We’ve got some of the highest house prices in the country outside London and it makes it unaffordable to buy a house and with wages being so low in the area it makes it very difficult to bridge the gap to be able to afford to buy a house. If something isn’t done to address this there will be no young people left on Exmoor. They won’t be able to afford to stay on the Moor.

– Will Lock
Will Lock has found it difficult to find a place of his own on the Moor. Credit: ITV West Country

Will is one of the founders of the group Exmoor Young Voices. It was set up to help young people on the Moor have a say on issues including housing, transport and digital inclusion.

The rents still don’t match the low local wages of the area. Young people are finding it hard to afford those rents.

Local businesses will suffer, farms will suffer, villages will dwindle and villages will cease to exist.

– Jade Evans, Exmoor Young Voices
Credit: ITV West Country

Exmoor National Park Authority, responsible for planning on the Moor, insists it is listening, and says there have been an increasing number of affordable houses being built in recent years.

Tourism is also a key industry on Exmoor and striking that balance between housing and encouraging tourism has traditionally been a challenge.

For the years that I’ve been on the park it’s been the constant that we’ve always wanted to keep young people here on the Moor. We’ve got teenage children ourselves and therefore we’re looking to the future and we want them to be able to stay and live with their extended families.

– Andrea Davis, Deputy Chairman, Exmoor National Park Authority

With the right policies we’ll try and do our bit to make sure that at least from a housing point of view there are opportunities for younger people.

– Ruth McArthur, Policy & Community Manager, Exmoor National Park Authority
Young people are struggling not to be priced out of Exmoor homes. Credit: ITV West Country

What other ways can young people be kept on Exmoor?

Justin and Linda Tyers live in Exton and are hoping they can set an example after building their own home for just £67,000.

We couldn’t have afforded to come back to Exmoor had it not been for the fact that the National Park have a policy of allowing people to build affordable homes. If we hadn’t got this piece of land for the price that we were able to purchase it we would never have been able to come back to Exmoor.

– Linda Tyers

There’s no doubt that Exmoor is a place of great beauty - it’s, therefore, a very desirable place to live.

However all sides agree that more work needs to be done to grant the desires of future generations who want Exmoor to remain their home.

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