Quality of living in Brentwood second best in UK but it’s also one of the least affordable places

Brentwood is just one place off the top spot for the quality of living conditions, according to a report into the UK’s prosperity index.

But Brentwood is also now one of the least affordable places to live – threatening the rise of the “haves and haves nots”.

During the six months to April this year, few of the top 20 performing local authorities in terms of sales agreed were major towns or cities, according to data from Zoopla. But areas such as Brentwood substantially outperformed the rate of sales in their respective broader regions.

Recent data from the Office of National Statistics ranked Brentwood as one of the least affordable places in the country with house prices and gross annual residence-based earnings at a ratio of 13.22. In 1997, it was 5.36.

The average price for property in Brentwood stood at £504,918 in May 2021.

This is a rise of 0.77 per cent in the last three months – since February 2021 – and rise of 7.82 per cent since 12 months ago.

In terms of property types, flats in Brentwood sold for an average of £329,732 and terraced houses for £482,161.

Cllr Gareth Barrett, leader of the Labour group, said: “We can welcome that for many, our borough is one of the best places to live in the UK.

“Its precious green spaces, vibrant communities and important facilities make it a place most of us are proud to call home.

“Yet at the same time this is becoming a place where the next generation of our families increasingly struggle to afford a home of their own, denying the youth of Brentwood a chance to pass on this experience to their children.

“We are seeing increased inter-generational housing, and an appearing divide between the haves and have nots.

“To preserve what makes Brentwood a great place to live, we should tackle this lack of opportunity with a relentless focus on making sure our future generations have the chance to make Brentwood their home as well.”

Brentwood’s second-best rank for Living Conditions in the UK, reflects low rates of homelessness and income deprivation, according to the Prosperity Index 2021. The Living Conditions pillar measures the quality of life experienced by people, including material resources, shelter, digital connectivity, access to local amenities, and protection from harm.

While placed in 44th place in the overall rankings, the borough’s wealthy status means it has been ranked as Essex’s most prosperous place.

It is seventh in terms of economic quality – a measure that reflects how well a local economy is equipped to generate wealth sustainably and with the full engagement of its workforce. However it fairs less well in terms of how violent crime, property crime, civil disorder, and terror have destabilised the security of individuals – both immediately and through longer lasting effects.

The Safety and Security Pillar measures Brentwood at 257th in the UK – one of the worst in Essex with just Basildon, Harlow, Thurrock and Southend ranked worse.

Brentwood Borough Council has been approached for further comment.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter