A COUNCIL leader will be urged to write to the housing secretary to define ‘affordable housing’ as prices for homes soar across Oxfordshire.

House prices are about 17 times average incomes in Oxford and dear across the county, with another 100,000 homes set to be built across the county over coming decades.

Liberal Democrat councillor Debby Hallett will say prices in the lower quartile of homes across the Vale of White Horse district cost £255,000 and that an annual income of £57,000 is required to buy them.

She will tell a council meeting next Wednesday: “Only the highest income levels can afford to buy the lowest priced properties in our district.

“Over recent years, growth in local incomes has not kept pace with growth in house prices or rents, so the so-called ‘affordable housing’ is not affordable to too many households and individuals.”

Currently the statutory definition of affordable housing – whether it is to buy or to rent – is 80 per cent of the market value.

In an effort to combat this, she will ask Roger Cox, the leader of Vale council, to write to James Brokenshire, the secretary for housing, communities and local government.

In that letter, Ms Hallett will ask Mr Brokenshire to ‘give consideration to the definition of affordable housing, taking into account the impact very high property values have on the current definition.’

The work that found the homes in the lower quartile cost £255,000 was completed by a Vale council scrutiny committee in February 2018 by the council’s then interim head of housing and economic development.

Average house prices for a detached house in Vale district was calculated to be just under £450,000 in a report – although that was released by the authority in 2011.

Across Oxfordshire, the average detached house was priced at £480,916, above the South East average of £454,676 and way ahead of the average in England and Wales. That was £342,576.