A deck across the Tyne

Sometimes planners ideas never really get off the paper but they still can fire the imagination.  As part of the current Great Exhibition of the North, BALTIC is staging an exhibition featuring Tyne deck.

A BALTIC Bites YouTube video explores the unrealised modernist master plan Tyne Deck  (1969) which has been recreated as an architect’s model for exhibition at the gallery.


BALTIC: https://getnorth2018.com/venues/the-baltic-centre-for-contemporary-art/


The trouble with leasehold

Leasehold has been in the news and everyone seems to criticise it.

“…Government statistics estimate there were 4.2 million residential leasehold dwellings in England in the private sector in 2015 to 2016 and of these 1.4 million were leasehold houses.  … Leasehold generally applies to flats with shared spaces, making multiple ownership more straightforward, but developers have been increasingly selling houses on these terms – adding further costs to over-stretched house buyers.” Government press release Dec 2017

What is leasehold?

When a house is sold as leasehold the ground the home is built on remains the property of the freeholder. The home buyer has to pay an annual ‘ground rent’ to the freeholder who owns the ground.  This makes the buyer a long-term tenant as the leases are usually for 99 or 125 years or even 999 years.  The owner of the house also has to ask the freeholder for consent if they want to make changes to the property, such as converting a garage or adding a porch (and can be charged a fee).   When the lease ends, ownership returns to the freeholder unless they are willing to sell the freehold to the occupant or extend the lease.

Scotland abolished leasehold with the Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000.

Changing leasehold

In December 2017 the Government’s Housing, Communities and Local Government ministry in Westminster announced purchasers of newly-build houses in England wouldn’t have to enter leasehold agreements and that anyone buying a home, whether flat or house, on a lease longer than 21 years would have zero ground rent.  Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the new measures would ‘cut out unfair and abusive practices’ within the system, but the new rules don’t cover houses in multiple ownership.

The Welsh Government reached a similar deal with house builders in March 2018.

Critics said the new measures are weak leaving existing leaseholders with homes that will be difficult to sell as ground rents will still apply to their properties.

Leasehold issues in Newcastle

Leasehold houses built by Leech in the 1970s, in areas such as Kingston Park in Newcastle, had fairly low annual payments of around £25 and the freehold was affordable and available to buy.  However, when leases like this have been sold on to investment companies home owners have sometimes found themselves faced with more aggressive management tactics and big bills.

Newcastle MP Catherine McKinnell said: “There are a number of areas of my constituency – Kingston Park and South West Denton being two – where those now coming towards the end of their lease are being quoted very significant sums to purchase the freehold, or even to extend their lease.”  [Chronicle news story July 2017]

Owners of desirable Georgian homes in the St Thomas’ Estate, Newcastle, are unable to sell; the time remaining on the lease has dropped below the 70 to 80 year limit at which most lenders will grant a mortgage and the trust which owns the freehold say they can’t sell them the freehold or new leases.  These homes would normally be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. [Chronicle news story Nov 2017]

Explore some of the issues

Comparing UK cities

The Centre for Cities data tool allows you to explore data about the UK’s 63 largest cities and towns and generate maps showing differences.  Some of the data uses key indicators for business and employment and is updated annually in January.  Other data is taken from the Censuses in 2001 and 2011.

The tool was used to generate this map below showing percentage households in social rentership in the 2011 Census.  The figure for Newcastle is 27.6% – a comparatively high percentage (Dundee was highest at 30.06%).

Largest cities: Households in social rentership 2011 Census
Largest UK cities: Households in social rentership 2011 Census

The Centre for Cities uses Primary Urban Areas (PUA) (a measure of the “built-up” area of a city) rather than individual local authority districts.

The Centre was set up in 2005 as an independent, non-partisan research organisation and is a registered charity.


Most expensive in Newcastle 2017

The Grove, Gosforth, mostly dating from the interwar 1919-39 period (May 2014)
The Grove, Gosforth, mostly dating from the interwar 1919-39 period (May 2014)
  • This is an updated version of a post first published 17th April 2017.

Back in 2014 figures  based on Land Registry data, giving averages for each road based on the mean of all non-commercial sale prices in 2014, showed that Newcastle had six of the top ten most expensive streets in the North East of England.  All of these streets were in either Jesmond or Gosforth.  Osborne Villas, Jesmond, and Elmfield Road, Gosforth, came top in 2014 and both had averages over £990,000.

Are these still the most expensive?  With new housing and changing tastes are the traditionally popular areas still topping the list?

Land Registry data shows the average price in Newcastle upon Tyne local authority area was £156,594 (November 2017).  Detached houses sold for around £300,000 [How much do houses cost? Jan 19 2018].  So at the top end we are looking at the hottest of hot spots in the city.

Most expensive houses in Newcastle 2017

It seems Gosforth and Jesmond continue to be where the most expensive houses are in Newcastle.  Data taken from the Land Registry shows that in North East England 27 house sales were for over one million pounds [The Chronicle 4 Feb 2018].  The two highest in Newcastle were for large houses in Montagu Avenue and Elmfield Road in Gosforth (both over £1.5m).

The relatively new La Sagesse development in Jesmond also features.  La Sagesse was a private Roman Catholic school in its own 13-acre grounds which announced closure in 2008 for financial reasons [The Telegraph 29 Mar 2008].  The redevelopment of the site as housing in the Jesmond Dene conservation area was contentious [Jesmond Local video Feb 2012].  The Gothic-style nineteenth-century building, Jesmond Towers, is Grade II listed and has been converted into a private mansion [Historic England listing 1024954; images; Chronicle 24 Oct 2016].  The rest of the site was redeveloped by David Wilson Homes and transformed into a sought after residential enclave.  A total of 48 homes featuring renovated and newly-built apartments, townhouses, lodges and detached houses were marketed at prices above £700,000 [Sanderson Young]. Three homes at La Sagesse resold for more than £1m in 2017.

Top ten streets Spring 2017

The Newcastle Chronicle used Zoopla in 12 March 2017 to locate the top streets [article superseded Dec 2017].  Zoopla uses Land Registry data and adjusts this to give a current average property value based on their current estimates; it is reasonably accurate.  Houses in The Grove, Gosforth, (above) sold for an average of £590,375 in the previous 12 months and Zoopla put the current average value at £625,531 [Zoopla search 17 April 2017].

Five of the top ten in March 2017 were in Newcastle and all of those were in Gosforth.  Elmfield Park came in at £1,088,576 with Graham Park Road just behind at £1,079,198 and Westfield Drive at £934,937.  North Avenue and Elmfield Road also made the top ten.  Surprisingly no other street in Newcastle made the list in March 2017; there were none from Jesmond!

However, according to a Lloyd’s Bank report Jesmond continues to be popular with professionals with house buyers prepared to pay  £73,700 more than average to live there, compared to the surrounding areas, making it one of the hottest property spots in the country to live in.  Property in Jesmond costs on average £268,877 while for the city as a whole it is £195,177 – a 38% premium [Chronicle 17 April 2017].

Don’t be deceived by averages.  Although there were currently houses for sale above the million mark on Zoopla (17 April 2017) the highest prices being sought tend to be for properties in Ponteland and Woolsington just outside the city boundary.  Some detached houses in Fenham and Heaton were also being marketed at over £700,000, so the picture was perhaps more varied in March/April 2017 than the top ten suggested.

The Chronicle’s news articles covering Tyne and Wear, Northumberland, and County Durham, have galleries of images of these streets and details of average sales value:

Rough sleepers rise 15%

“Rough sleepers are defined for the purposes of official counts as people sleeping, about to bed down or bedded down on the street, in doorways, parks, tents, bus shelters, cars, barns, sheds and other places not designed for habitation. It does not include people in hostels or shelters.  It is widely acknowledged that the statistics are not an accurate picture of the numbers of people rough sleeping, though they do reflect general trends.” The Guardian article Jan 25th 2018

The Government’s Rough Sleeping Statistics for Autumn 2017 (England) provides data based on the single night snapshot of rough sleeping taken annually in England.  It uses  street counts and what the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government term ‘intelligence driven estimates’. Local authorities decide on the best method to use in their area, a street count or an estimate.  In other words it is a best guess rather than a set of accurate figures and the way it has been done varies.

  • The autumn 2017 estimate of rough sleepers in England was 4,751.
  • That was up 617, or 15% from the autumn 2016 (4,134).
  • The number of rough sleepers increased by 173, or 18% in London and 444 or 14% in the rest of England.
  • London represented 24% of the England total rough sleepers in autumn 2017, up from 23% of the England total in autumn 2016.
  • 14% of rough sleepers were women, 20% were non-UK nationals and 8% were under 25 years old.

In the North East numbers are low but rising

Separate figures for each local authority area are not given.

  • The autumn 2017 estimate of rough sleepers in NE England was 51.
  • That was up 6, or 13% from the autumn 2016 (45); highest figure since 2012 peak (62) and double that of 2013 (25).
  • Breakdown: 46 males, 5 females; 48 UK nationals, 1 non-EU, 2 unknown; 8 under 25, 39 over 25, 4 unknown.

Government figures

Alternative figures for London from CHAIN (St Mungo’s):


How much do houses cost?

The UK House Price Index (HPI) uses house sales data from official Government property registers and is calculated by the Office of National Statistics.  It is more reliable than figures produced by mortgage lenders because not everyone buying a house requires a mortgage loan and individual lenders look at their own lending.

As of November 2017 the average house price in the UK is £226,071, and the index stands at 118.57. Property prices have risen by 0.1% compared to the previous month, and risen by 5.1% compared to the previous year. ONS http://landregistry.data.gov.uk/app/ukhpi

The pattern for Newcastle is slightly less buoyant.  The average price in Newcastle upon Tyne local authority area was £156,594 (November 2017) and the index stood at 108.73.  Prices had fallen 1.51% compared with the previous October 2017 and 0.78% compared to the previous year (2016).

The graph below shows the average sales price by property type for the period Dec 2016 to Nov 2017. It shows detached houses hovering around £300,000, semi-detached close to £180,000, terraced houses around £150,000 and flats about £110,000 to £115,000.  The average price of new-build homes in this period is around £225,000 to £235,000 and new buyers paid on average £130,000 to £140,000 for their first home.

house prices ncl 2017
Land registry data for Newcastle Dec 2016 to November 2017

Living with parents

Most young people assume they will leave home and live in their own place as an independent adult.  But the official statistics show a quarter of under-35s are still living in the parental home.  These figures don’t include students living in temporary accommodation while away studying, but a larger proportion of students are opting to stay at home while studying.  A BBC report shows the cost of buying a home has risen for successive post-war generations and the percentage of income spent on housing has been rising.

Young adults living with their parents, 1996 to 2017 (ONS)
Young adults living with their parents, 1996 to 2017 (ONS)

“A large percentage of 15- to 19-year-olds would be expected to be living with their parents; the number of young adults living with their parents decreases with age. Looking at 20- to 34-year-olds, the number living with their parents has increased from 2.7 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2013 (a statistically significant increase) and has since remained around 3.4 million. The percentage living with their parents has risen from 21% in 1996 to 26% in 2017.” https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2017

About a third (32%) of males aged 20 to 34 years are now living with their parents, compared to 20% of females.

Why?  Some stay in education and training for longer.  People tend to establish long-term couple-based relationships later and have children at older ages.  A big factor is the  increased costs in renting or buying a home.

The ONS put together a summary article explaining the long-term trend:

  • The percentage of young adults owning their home decreased from 55% in 1996 to 30% in 2015 for 25 to 29 year olds; and from 68% to 46% for 30 to 34 year olds.
  • In 2014, 24% of UK University undergraduates opted to stay at home living with parents whilst studying, compared with 12% in 1996.
  • The average age at first marriage for men in England and Wales was 32 years in 2012 compared with 29 years in 1996.
  • The average age for women in England and Wales to have their first birth was 29 years in 2014 compared with 27 years in 1996.
  • Changes to housing benefit entitlement for those aged under 35 is also likely to have had some impact on young adults being able to leave the parental home.


How much of your area is built on?

You could be forgiven for thinking the most of the UK, with the exception of peripheral upland areas like the Highlands, Yorkshire Moors or Wales, is built over.  However the Corine land cover survey shows that over half of the UK’s land is agriculture, and just over a third is natural or semi-natural.

The European Union database has been compiled by the European Environment Agency; Corine means ‘coordination of information on the environment’.  Using local maps and detailed satellite images, Corine gives us land use information for the whole of the UK. The University of Leicester and the University of Sheffield have been involved in producing the Land Cover Atlas.  There is a map for each of the 391 Local Authority areas of the UK.  The maps were created using open data and open source software and you can download them.

Corine Land Cover Newcastle upon Tyne
Corine Land Cover Newcastle upon Tyne
Copyright rests with the European Commission; Acknowledgement: Produced by the University of Leicester, The Centre for Landscape and Climate Research and Specto Natura and supported by Defra and the European Environment Agency under Grant Agreement 3541/B2012/R0-GIO/EEA.55055 with funding by the European Union.

The most expensive Newcastle homes

Data from the Land Registry has revealed the most expensive individual houses sold in the North East of England during August 2017.  The highest price paid was for a rural property at Hepscott near Morpeth (£999,999).

Gosforth and Jesmond continue to be Newcastle’s hot spots.  A house in The Drive, Gosforth went for £965,000 and one in Mitchell Avenue, Jesmond, for £945,000. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/property-news/most-expensive-houses-north-east-13796247

However, the pattern might actually be more mixed – see this updated post: https://newcastleareas.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/most-expensive-in-newcastle-2017/


A new generation of council houses?

Something you may have missed in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory party conference speech was the promise to deliver a ‘new generation of council houses’.  The speech indicated a change of direction, an admission that the market is ‘broken’ and that not-for-profit and/or state-funded social housing is needed.

‘In her speech, the prime minster promised another £2 billion in addition to the previously announced £7 billion affordable housing programme. The additional money will provide funding for council and housing associations who can “bid for funding” from this new pot. It is also understood that there will be a greater push to increase the supply of public land on which such new social housing may be built.’ Prof Kenneth Gibb

However, the amount of housing promised is actually quite small.

‘…the wheels swiftly fell off when the numbers were crunched. The money, a Conservative briefing note explains, will build only 5,000 extra homes a year. The Tory manifesto stated an aim to build 1.5m homes by 2022.’ The Guardian

Much will depend on what the Government’s green paper actually says. In September Communities secretary Sajid Javid promised a ‘wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review of the issues facing the sector’ including safety, housing quality, the rights of tenants, management, homelessness and wider community issues.

‘The forthcoming green paper on social housing will provide more flesh on the bones – but it needs to create the funding and regulatory environment to enable the not-for-profit and public sectors to build and grow. And to do so on a sustainable basis at genuinely affordable rents.’ Prof Kenneth Gibb

Councils argue local government has to be at the heart of housing solutions:

‘The last time the country built enough homes councils built 40% of them. Our offer is pretty clear, give councils to powers to lead a renaissance in council house building by letting us keep 100% of the sales receipts, and give us the freedoms to borrow to invest and to set rents.’ Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson

  • For an analysis of what we could learn from past decision-making on social housing, read Prof John Flint (University of Sheffield) on The Conversation [Feb 23 2016]

Theresa May announces £2bn for council homes expansion BBC News (Oct 4th 2017)  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41502601

Theresa May’s speech and the challenge to expand English social housing
by Prof Kenneth Gibb of the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, University of Glasgow, The Conversation (Oct 5th 2017) https://theconversation.com/theresa-mays-speech-and-the-challenge-to-expand-english-social-housing-85218

What did May’s speech promise on housing? Not a lot Analysis article by Dawn Foster in The Guardian (Oct 4th 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/oct/04/theresa-may-conservative-conference-housing

Javid launches social housing green paper LocalGov  (20 Sep 2017) https://www.localgov.co.uk/Javid-launches-social-housing-green-paper/43836

Posted 7th October 2017; updated June 30th 2018