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House prices soar in picturesque locations

The rise in the typical AONB property price since 2002, at 87%, was nearly three times the 32% increase in average earnings over the same period. As a consequence, home affordability in such locations has deteriorated over the past decade. The average AONB house price of £235,215 in 2012 is, on average, 7.0 times higher than average gross annual earnings. This is up from a multiple of 4.9 in 2002.

Five AONBs have seen house prices double over the past decade. Solway Coast in Cumbria recorded the biggest increase, at 124.5%. This was marginally ahead of the Northumberland Coast, which saw the second biggest rise in house prices (123.8%), followed by the Kent Downs (115%) and Forest of Bowland in northern England (107%).

At the other end of the scale, Dedham Vale on the Suffolk-Essex border recorded the smallest increase (61%), followed by the North Wessex Downs (66%).

Surrey Hills is the most expensive AONB in England with an average house price of £407,568, followed by High Weald (£329,441) and Kent Downs (£320,090). Forest of Bowland (£212,301) is the most expensive AONB outside southern England. In contrast, Lincolnshire Wolds (£128,608) and Cannock Chase (£136,774) are the only two ANOBs in the survey with an average house price below £150,000.

On average, homebuyers are required to part with an extra £14,951 (9%) to live in an English AONB. This is 87% higher than the average premium of £8009 in 2002.

Some 66% of AONBs have a higher average house price than the regions that they are located within. Surrey Hills in the south east has the largest premium with houses trading at an average of 50% above the average house price in the region. This is followed by Forest of Bowland and Shropshire Hills where house prices trade at a premium of 38%.

Suren Thiru, Housing Economist, Lloyds TSB said: "The value of homes within areas of outstanding natural beauty has risen substantially over the past decade.

"The relatively high property values in many of these locations reflect the quality of life benefits associated with living in some of our most idyllic beauty spots. However, the fact that property prices have typically risen considerably faster than average earnings has created significant affordability difficulties for many of those living and working in such locations."

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