Property prices have been rising in Cumbria and buying a house is not an easy task. GILES BROWN asks whether the property boom is good for business.

Briony Fawcett, managing director of PHX Training:

“Like many things in life, rising house prices are a double-edged sword. What might be beneficial to people already on the housing ladder is a real worry for young people for whom it is becoming unaffordable to live here. We have a real need in Cumbria to retain local young talent to avoid an oncoming skills crisis, so keeping our young people trained and living locally is absolutely vital.

“As employers, we need to offer young people a real reason to stay here rather than moving to a cheaper location or to cities like Manchester and Liverpool. That means offering jobs that offer real training and progression that is over and above what is available in the city.

“We’re working with employers to ensure they play their part too – to offer quality apprenticeships with benefits that are better than moving away and real work-based learning so that their staff can see a full progression path. That way, young staff can see themselves enjoying a good life and career in Cumbria long term, find themselves on the housing ladder and benefit from the county’s success rather than being pushed out by it.”

Jo Lappin, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership:

“LEP’s vision for Cumbria is to be ‘The place to live, work, visit and invest sustainably – where exceptional industry and innovation meets a breathtakingly beautiful and productive landscape’ and as such property is essential to achieving this ambition, as people need quality, affordable homes to be able to live and work here.

“In some areas we clearly want to see property prices increase in order to make the building of new homes a more viable proposition for housebuilders. However, in other areas affordability is a serious issue, which is preventing people from either staying in their local area or coming here to live and work.

“This is a particular issue in and around the Lake District, which is currently facing significant workforce challenges, which won’t be addressed unless there is affordable housing. So booming property prices in some locations will not help address our already stretched businesses looking for workers. We therefore need to think really carefully about how we address local affordability challenges.”

Richard Andrew, Armstrong Watson:

“For many business owners, high property prices in Cumbria create a nest egg for them – whether that’s through the appreciation in the value of their own home or the appreciation in the value of their business premises. Increasing property prices also create opportunities for many businesses such as estate agents, surveyors and the construction sector.

“However, for hospitality business owners, property prices are a mixed blessing. It creates value through the appreciation of the business premises, but it also creates a barrier for attracting staff. The sector has struggled throughout the summer with many businesses forced to close their doors due to staffing shortages. This has been exacerbated through the combination of Brexit and the Covid crisis with many foreign workers returning to their home countries. Attracting staff and encouraging them to stay in the area is challenging because property prices and rental prices are prohibitive to many who may have a desire to work in the area.”