Clean Air Hotspots: Homes in Wales and North West England the most affordable for buyers seeking unpolluted air

  • Wales and North West England dominate the top ten local authorities that offer both low pollution levels and affordable property prices for homebuyers

  • Blaenau Gwent is the most affordable clean air hotspot in England and Wales, followed by Copeland, Merthyr Tydfil and Barrow-in-Furness
  • Purbeck, Cotswold, South Hams, North Norfolk and West Oxfordshire make up the least affordable destinations for homebuyers seeking unpolluted air
  • Nearly half (23) of the top 50 clean air hotspots are located in South West England – only one (West Oxfordshire) falls within South East England

Homebuyers concerned about the quality of air where they plan to live should consider properties in Wales and the North West of England, according to Future Climate Info (FCI)’s Clean Air Affordability Monitor.

It shows that both regions offer some of England and Wales’ most affordable locations for homebuyers seeking clean, unpolluted air. Among the 50 local authorities with the highest concentration of housing transactions in ‘clean air’ postcodes, properties in Blaenau Gwent in Wales were found to be the most affordable, followed by Copeland in the North West and Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.

Overall, Wales accounted for five of the top ten locations with the best housing affordability in clean air postcodes, followed by four in the North West and one in the North East.


Table 1: Top ten ‘clean air hotspots’ with best housing affordability

Local authority Region % of transactions in cleanest postcodes Average house price in cleanest postcodes Average gross annual pay Clean air affordability ratio*
Blaenau Gwent Wales 85% £98,690 £23,012 4.29
Copeland North West 87% £145,593 £31,963 4.56
Merthyr Tydfil Wales 82% £123,213 £23,570 5.23
Barrow-in-Furness North West 89% £132,382 £24,645 5.37
Darlington North East 74% £157,130 £27,138 5.79
Carmarthenshire Wales 86% £154,322 £20,559 6.15
Allerdale North West 90% £183,814 £22,470 6.67
Carlisle North West 84% £157,033 £19,658 7.16
Denbighshire Wales 87% £165,438 £19,755 7.36
East Lindsey East Midlands 77% £179,607 £21,013 7.49

Source: Future Climate Info/HM Land Registry/EarthSense Systems Limited

* Calculated by dividing the average price of a home in clean air postcodes by the local average gross annual pay

The study from Future Climate Info – the independent environmental risk analysts – examines 2017 residential property transaction data from HM Land Registry alongside environmental data[1] from EarthSense Systems on average Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels in 100m² areas, caused by vehicle emissions and other sources.

It first identifies the 50 local authorities across England and Wales – see notes to editors for the full list – that saw the highest percentage of 2017 housing transactions taking place in the cleanest postcodes in terms of air quality. These are defined as ‘generally clean environments with very low chance of average NO2 levels exceeding annual legal limits’, with the top 50 all seeing at least 70% of residential house purchases in these areas. FCI then assesses the average house price in these clean air hotspots compared to average local earnings.

The potential effects of excess NO2 can include long-term health concerns for people spending extended periods in these conditions[1], as well as the need for sensitised individuals (such as asthma sufferers) to take extra steps to manage their exposure and exercise accordingly. High concentrations of NO2 are often associated with the presence of other air pollutants.

FCI is the first environmental report provider to offer risk an air quality assessment of property transactions by including data on nearby NO2 levels, using EarthSense’s MappAir® dataset – the UK’s first and only air quality dataset at 100m resolution.

Clean air homes in Purbeck almost four times less affordable than Blaenau Gwent

FCI’s analysis shows that the average price of a home bought in the cleanest postcodes in Blaenau Gwent was £98,690, which is 4.29 times the area’s average annual pay of £23,012. In comparison, Copeland’s average clean air house price of £145,593 is 4.56 times average local earnings, while Merthyr Tydfil’s ratio is 5.23 due to lower wages and an average clean air house price of £123,213.

In contrast, Purbeck in South West England emerges as the least affordable clean air hotspot across England and Wales. Purbeck’s clean air affordability ratio is 16.97 – almost four times that of Blaenau Gwent, with a house price of £364,709 in the cleanest postcodes compared to the local average salary of £21,494.

Cotswold (14.66), South Hams (14.23), North Norfolk (13.55) and West Oxfordshire (13.41) join Purbeck to make up had the top five least affordable clean air hotspots, driven by high house prices relative to local average earnings.

South West England dominates the top 50 clean air hotspots

Although Wales and the North West dominate the top ten most affordable clean air hotspots, of the top 50 local authorities in England and Wales with the largest concentration of housing transactions in clean postcodes, nearly half (23) are located in South West England, with examples including West Devon, Cotswold and South Somerset. 1 in 5 (10) are located in Wales, followed by 6 in North West England.


Table 2: Regional breakdown of the top 50 local authorities with the highest percentage of housing transactions in clean air postcodes

Region Number of local authorities in top 50 clean air hotspots for housing transactions across England and Wales
South West 23 (46%)
Wales 10 (20%)
North West 6 (12%)
West Midlands 3 (6%)
East Midlands 3 (6%)
Yorkshire and the Humber 2 (4%)
North East 1 (2%)
South East 1 (2%)
East of England 1 (2%)

Source: Future Climate Info/HM Land Registry/EarthSense Systems Limited


Geoff Offen, Managing Director of Future Climate Info, comments:

“The quality of the air we breathe from the environment we live in is increasingly becoming a public health concern, with many homebuyers choosing to escape to the country to avoid polluted metropolitan areas. Property buyers have started to see it as an equally important issue as other environmental and social factors we traditionally consider first when buying a home.

“Unsurprisingly, rural areas are more likely to have cleaner air, however, our analysis shows it is possible to find affordable homes in areas of natural beauty that are within commutable distance of cities such as Cardiff, Middlesbrough and Lancaster.

“As the issue of air quality continues to rise up homebuyers’ agenda and we become savvier about emerging environmental risks and the impact they could have on our health, we may see these areas increase in popularity as ‘clear-air hotspots’. In the meantime, buyers and investors concerned about the air quality surrounding a potential property purchase should ask their solicitor for a full environmental report which includes this specific insight, to help them make an informed decision.”

This article was submitted to be published by Future Climate Info as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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