COUNCILLORS have dismissed claims that younger residents are being priced out of living in the town, after they announced they intend to spend £21 million on affordable homes over the next two years.

Wokingham Borough Council confirmed in their latest budget that they had set aside the vast sum of money to invest in affordable housing after they received feedback telling them to do more.

However, one councillor referenced an example of a couple needing to rake in £30,000 per year each in order to buy an affordable house, even after the initial deposit is paid.

That same councillor then went on to insist that this is a national problem, and not specific to Wokingham, however with the new town centre regeneration underway, there is concern that younger people are being priced out of the town.

On one road in Wokingham, house prices have increased by £143,000 in just two years, while others around the town have doubled.

Councillor David Lee said: “Affordability as far as I’m concerned means two people on an average salary, and when I say average I don’t mean a very very low salary, I mean around £30,000 each, we’re looking at making sure they can buy their house in this area.

“That’s what we’re looking at.

“It’s not us doing this, it’s not the council.

“We aren’t the ones increasing house prices.

“From 2016-2036 we will have to build on average 900 homes a year.”

Councillor Keith Baker raised some eyebrows in the room by admitting that ‘affordable housing’ may not be all that it seems.

He said: “We always use the term ‘Affordable housing’, in reality, that’s affordable housing to rent, not to buy.

“When we talk about affordable housing, it’s to rent, or shared equity, and that’s the government definition.”

The leader of the council, Charlotte Haitham Taylor, also weighed in on the affordable housing debate.

She said: “At the moment, having to borrow ten times your average income is not affordable.”

Cllr Lee continued: “One of the problems we’ve got is that a lot of families have got children living with them well into their twenties, and well beyond.

“A lot of the newer properties will be particularly attractive to older people, because they’ll be closer to services and closer to the town.

“I think as we build more affordable houses and as some of the major schemes come on stream, there will be more smaller developments, and I mean that in terms of smaller starting price.

“If you work that equation together, the children who are stuck at home being unable to afford their first house will be able to move into the new houses, with parents then moving into the ones closer to the town, then the family home is left vacant.

“It’s a national issue of people living in a large house which is too big for them to manage and with a garden that is too big to manage, while there are families out there who can’t get a house.”