Election focus: how much does it cost to live in the main leaders’ constituencies?

Election focus: how much does it cost to live in the main leaders’ constituencies?

With a snap general election just weeks away now, Tepilo analyses the property markets in the constituencies of the leaders of the main political parties.

After a surprise snap general election was called last week by Theresa May, all the main political parties are back out on the campaign trail again less than a year after the EU referendum. It's also less than two years since the British public was last asked to go to the polling booths to elect a new government.

 

So much has changed since May 2015, when the Conservatives – led by David Cameron and George Osborne – won a surprise, albeit slim, majority. The Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems, the Green Party and Ukip all now have different leaders and, in June last year, Britain unexpectedly voted to leave the European Union. The world is now a different place to even two years ago, with unpredictable election results and underdogs winning often the name of the game.

 

To put a property spin on all this, we have decided to take a closer look at the property markets in the constituencies represented by Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas and Nicola Sturgeon to see how affordable (or otherwise) homes are in these locations.

 

Theresa May, Maidenhead

 

Leafy, affluent Maidenhead is one of the Conservative Party's main strongholds. It is considered to be one of the safest Tory seats in the country, given it's been held by the Conservatives since the seat was created in 1997. It has been represented since 1997 by current PM Theresa May and, in the last general election in 2015, she had a majority of more than 29,000 over her rivals.

 

With its prime position on the Thames, homes in Maidenhead are always in high demand. A medium-sized town with a population of around 74,000 people, it was once the favoured retreat of the upper classes and was one of the most popular holiday and day-trip destinations during the Edwardian era.

 

It now functions mainly as a commuter hub, with good transport links to London, Reading and Windsor, but also has its own thriving town centre with a range of businesses, shops, cafes and restaurants. It's also known for the iconic Maidenhead Railway Bridge, built by Brunel in the 19th century, which is famous for its flat brick arches and the incredible echoes it can create. What's more, Maidenhead is a key part of England's Silicon Corridor and is home to the oldest football ground continuously used by the same team in the form of Maidenhead United's York Road.

 

As for property – well, as you would expect, it's not particularly cheap in Maidenhead, with the average price of £513,575 (Rightmove) reflecting its popularity and desirability. Detached properties, which sell for an average of more than £760,000, are the most popular type of home on offer, while those looking for cheaper homes should turn to flats (overall asking price of £326,304) or semis (average asking price of £469,375). Sellers in Maidenhead will be pleased to know that prices have risen by 9% in the last year and are up by 26% on 2014 price levels.

 

Jeremy Corbyn, Islington North

 

Islington North has been held for Labour by its current leader Jeremy Corbyn since 1983, with sizeable majorities each time. While his leadership of the Labour Party has proved divisive, to say the least, his record as a constituency MP is in much less doubt.

 

Despite Islington North being in the heart of one of London's most trendy, busy, metropolitan and affluent areas, known for its nightlife, Arsenal's Emirates Stadium and the always lively Upper Street, parts of it house some of the poorest residents in the capital.

 

The overall average asking price in Islington is currently £744,984, according to Rightmove, but prices vary wildly depending on where you are in the borough. In Aldersgate, for example, homes can go for up to £3 million, while in Lower Holloway the average asking price is a more modest £580,386. Prices in Islington have stayed broadly the same in the last year, but are up by 13% on 2014.

 

Tim Farron, Westmorland and Lonsdale

 

Tim Farron took over from Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader in July 2015 after the party's disastrous performance in the general election, where they lost 49 seats and saw some of their most high-profile figures firmly rejected by the electorate. Farron was one of only eight Lib Dem MPs to hold his seat, a seat he has represented since 2005.

 

Westmorland and Lonsdale is a constituency in Cumbria, which includes the towns of Kendal, Windermere (famed the world over for its picture-perfect lake) and Kirkby Lonsdale. It has an electorate of around 67,000.

 

Prices in Cumbria are generally very affordable, as shown by the overall average asking price of £201,347 in Kendal. For sellers, though, not such good news – although prices are up by 4% on where they were in 2014, they have fallen by 5% in the last year. In Windermere, meanwhile, house prices are more expensive – buoyed by the town's national fame and high demand from those seeking holiday homes – with an average asking price of £376,299, up by 14% in the last year and up by 13% in the last decade.

 

Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion

 

The Green Party's first and only MP, Lucas was elected as the representative for Brighton Pavilion in the 2010 general election. In the 2015 general election she held onto her seat with an increased majority.

 

Originally leader of the Green Party from 2008-2012, she returned as Co-Leader – alongside Jonathan Bartley – in September 2016, taking over from the outgoing Natalie Bennett.

 

Brighton, often known as ‘London on sea’ or ‘London by the sea’, is a popular commuter hub and a haven for creatives, musicians, artists and writers looking for more affordable living than can be found in the capital.

 

Prices can certainly be deemed affordable, with an overall average asking price of around £390,000, 10% up on the previous year and 19% higher than the prices seen in 2014. Brighton is one of the country's most in-demand locations and, with that, prices are soaring year by year. That said, bargains can still be found if buyers, landlords and investors are canny and prepared enough. Flats, for example, sell for an average of £284,000, making them particularly appealing to first-time buyers.

 

Nicola Sturgeon, Glasgow Southside

 

Leader of the SNP and the First Minister of Scotland, Sturgeon was first elected as an MSP representing the city of Glasgow as far back as 1999. She was re-elected in 2003 and in 2007 took the Glasgow Govan constituency from Labour. After the Glasgow Govan seat was abolished, she stood as a candidate for Glasgow Southside, which included most of her former Govan constituency. At the last general election she was elected with 54% of the vote.

 

A pro-independence, pro-EU figure, Sturgeon has sought to take the fight to Theresa May in recent months, demanding a bigger role in Brexit negotiations and calling for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

 

Glasgow, which has reinvented itself in recent years as an edgy, bohemian, artistic destination, obsessed with football, music and culture, is also one of the most affordable major cities in the UK. It currently has an overall average asking price of just £161,000 – and it's even cheaper in the city centre, where it's just above £159,000. House prices are also on the up again, rising by 6% in the last year. Still, though, they are drastically down on where they were a decade ago, with prices 40% lower than 2006.

 

Paul Nuttall

 

The Ukip leader isn't currently an MP and hasn't yet decided if he will stand in the upcoming election or not, so it's impossible to look at the property prices of his constituency given he doesn't actually have one. He most recently failed to get elected as MP for Stoke Central, when he was beaten into second place by Labour.

 

We can, however, take a look at the property situation in his place of birth – Bootle. One of the most affordable locations in the whole of the country, Bootle, a town in Merseyside, has an average price of just over £96,000, with most homes terraced properties selling for an average of £67,427. Prices rose by 5% in the last year but are broadly the same as 2008.   

 

So, there we have it. While we're making no predictions about June's vote, on house prices alone Jeremy Corbyn's constituency wins. Then again, that is little surprise, given it's based in the heart of London.

 

According to the polls, the election seems fairly cut and dried already, but as we've seen in recent years trying to predict anything in the world of politics is a fool's game.