CONCERNS grow over the affordability of property in Ringwood as it is named as one of the most expensive market towns in the country. 

Ringwood has been listed as one of the most expensive market towns in England, according to the latest housing index from Halifax. 

Councillor Philip Day explained that the level of suitable housing in Ringwood "is a real problem and a matter of concern" as young families and first-time buyers move away from the town due to the lack of affordability.

Cllr Philip Day said: "Ringwood is currently working towards adopting a neighbourhood plan and one of the reasons for that is due to a growing concern that house prices and the type of housing available are simply outside the reach of ordinary first-time buyers and young people.

"We are finding that quite often to get on the housing ladder, people are having to move away from Ringwood to get their first property and then as they progress their careers and make some money on their first purchase they try and move back to the town. 

"Ringwood people love Ringwood and don't like moving away.

"At the moment we are doing a lot of research to determine what the housing needs are locally and the problems that people are facing in buying houses that they can actually afford."

Home buyers looking to move into one of England's market towns pay a premium of £36,116 on average, according to Halifax.

The average house price across England's market towns in 2020 was £321,780, in Ringwood this shot up to £534,330 - making it the fifth most expensive market town in the country. 

House prices in the surrounding areas are substantially lower than those in Ringwood.   

The average house in Verwood is priced at £397,031 while the average home in Sandford is £377,379, according to Zoopla. 

Cllr Day said: "Obviously there's a lot of new housing but that's also a problem because they always attract a premium and much like a brand-new car, the moment the house is sold on it no longer attracts the same 'new home' premium - it is a real issue as far as we are concerned. 

"The other problem is that over the years because of the cost of moving houses, people with growing families haven't sold their two or three-bed house, they've extended it.

 "This means the stock of two or three bed houses is continually going down because a large number of them are being extended.

"The houses are getting bigger and therefore more expensive because people can't afford to move so it's cheaper for them to extend than it is to move and buy a bigger house."

As part of the town council's neighbourhood plan they are looking to find ways to ensure smaller homes, suitable for first-time buyers and young families are given more priority in the future. 

The 10 most expensive market towns in England in 2020, according to Halifax:

1. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, South East, £1,134,293

2. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, South East, £858,772

3. Alresford, Hampshire, South East, £703,371

4. Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, South West, £557,168

5. Ringwood, Hampshire, South East, £534,330

6. Tenterden, Kent, South East, £524,092

7. Petersfield, Hampshire, South East, £515,175

8. Lewes, Sussex, South East, £514,868

9. Marlborough, Wiltshire, South West, £514,491

10. Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, South West, £509,798

The town council are in the early stages of their neighbourhood plan and urge anyone who is interested in the future of the town to get involved by emailing neighbourhood.plan@ringwood.gov.uk.