Two different publications which have landed on my desk this week give the up-to date picture of housing both in Ashford itself, and in comparison with the rest of the country. The National Housing Federation shows that the average Ashford house costs £295,000, lower than the Kent average of £310,000 but above the national figure of £289,000.
For those looking to get on the home-ownership ladder one key figure is the ratio of house prices to incomes. For Ashford this is 9.8, happily lower than both the Kent and English averages, meaning that housing is more affordable here. This is all relative of course, as the ratio of 9.8 is still very high by historic standards.
One other encouraging figure is the number of long-term empty homes. For Ashford this stands at 240, which is very low compared to two of our neighbours. For Shepway the figure is 547 and for Canterbury it is 599.
Of course the only way in the long term to bring that ratio of 9.8 down is to build more houses, which is where the second publication from the National House Building Council comes in. This shows that the evidence we can all see before our eyes, that there are considerable new housing developments being built, is indeed borne out by the figures.
In 2017 Ashford saw the completion of 531 new homes, compared with a national average of just 247. This raises two interesting points. The first is the obvious one that we are seeing something like twice the rate of housebuilding as other areas. The second is that this is still well below the rate off 1,000 homes a year that seems stuck in public consciousness as the norm. At this rate, the 30,000 new homes that many people fear will take nearly 60 years to arrive.