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Camden affordable homes crisis sparks ‘brain drain’ of teachers and young talent in borough

Teacher Elizabeth Lumb and her boyfriend Jack D'arc,y a couple who feel they will never to be able to buy a home in Camden due to lack of affordable property. Picture: Nigel Sutton Teacher Elizabeth Lumb and her boyfriend Jack D'arc,y a couple who feel they will never to be able to buy a home in Camden due to lack of affordable property. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Thursday, July 10, 2014
6:00 AM

Teachers and young professionals have warned they are being forced out of Camden as stark new figures reveal there are no affordable homes for sale in the borough – leading to a “brain drain” of young talent.

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Over-inflation of the housing market and Camden’s desirability as a prime inner London borough have put ownership of properties beyond the reach of those earning an average wage.

A report by homeless charity Shelter has shown that a single person in Camden earning the average income of £29,000, or a couple with a combined income of £61,000, would be drastically priced out of the borough.

The research has come as no surprise to those living in rental properties who have spoken of the pressure to move out of Camden when the time comes to buy their first home.

Teacher Elizabeth Lumb, who works at Eleanor Palmer Primary School in Tufnell Park, and her boyfriend Jack D’Arcy, 23, who works at a music agency, both earn healthy salaries and have stable careers.

They live in Torriano Avenue but in a few years will have to leave behind the treasured village feel of their community and move out of London altogether to buy their first home.

Miss Lumb, 23, said: “We never considered Camden as a realistic option. For young teachers it’s an almost impossible situation. I looked at prices on our road and for a one-bedroom flat, you’re looking at £500,000.

“As a teacher and someone who starts early and finishes late, I want to live close to the school in which I work.

“It would be such a shame to make Camden a place where only the most wealthy can buy. What we love about Kentish Town and Tufnell Park is that it very much feels like a village.”

James Jones, 37, a TV researcher, tried for four years to get on the property ladder while he was living in Burghley Road, Tufnell Park.

“There’s nowhere in Camden,” he said. “I looked at my budget and the numbers don’t stack up there.”

Shelter’s survey showed there are no one-bedroom homes in Camden for sale at £122,000 or less, the price a single person earning £29,000 could afford.

Likewise, there are no two-bedroom properties for sale valued at £256,000, the budget for a couple with a combined income of £61,000.

Natalie Bennett, national leader of the Green Party and parliamentary candidate for Holborn and St Pancras, has issued a stark warning that young professionals such as teachers and police officers will be “pushed out” of Camden.

“We are making it impossible for anyone to live in the community they work in,” she said. “We need to get away from thinking of housing as a financial asset and start thinking of them as homes.”

A 2008 Camden Council report stated a need for an additional 4,787 affordable homes each year but between 2006 and September 2013 only 1,789 new units of affordable housing were built.

Since 2011, the government has made it harder for local councils to build housing, with Camden’s grant for affordable housing development reduced to 50 per cent of the grant for the previous four-year period.

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