Wales

Chepstow house price boom as Severn bridge tolls axe looms

Severn toll booths
Image caption The tolls were reduced in January after the Severn crossings returned to public ownership

House prices on the Welsh border rose by almost £100,000 after it was announced Severn Bridge tolls would be scrapped, an estate agent has claimed.

Since it was announced the tolls on the two bridges would be ending, valuations of the average house in Chepstow have increased by about £90,000.

Tolls across the River Severn will come to an end in December after 52 years.

It has been estimated the move will boost the Welsh economy by £100m a year but some say effects will be limited.

Peter Moon, of Chepstow-based Moon and Co, said the interest from buyers in the Bristol area had trebled in the past year to about 60% of his inquiries.

He told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales: "The impact has been very noticeable in the price ranges up to about £350,000.

"For instance a three-bed semi-detached house 12 months ago in Chepstow in a middle-of-the range area would have been around £160,000. They are now around £250,000, so that's a big increase."

Image caption Hicks Logistics is based in Caldicot, close to the second Severn Bridge

Tom Denman, from the Principality Building Society, said the removal of the tolls was contributing to an expansion into the commuter belt for Bristol, with house price increases of about 11% a year in Monmouthshire and Newport compared to 3.4% across Wales.

A haulage company sited close to the second Severn bridge claimed it will be £100,000 a year better off once the tolls go.

Terry Hicks set up Hicks Logistics 42 years ago with just one truck. The Caldicot-based family firm now has about 80 vehicles in its fleet where his son, Simon Hicks, is transport manager.

Simon Hicks told the Eye on Wales programme: "Because of where we are, we essentially have to pay to come home. It's a cost that we've always had to shoulder."

His father added: "I was beginning to think it wouldn't happen because it has been promised for so long.

"We have looked at relocating on the other side of the water but I've held back because I'm a proud Welshman and I want my business to be in Wales."

Economist Prof Roger Vickerman said the toll may affect the cost of homes, but he does not think it will involve a "step-change" in south Wales' economy.

"My hunch is that the overall impact is likely to be fairly small. Any reduction in the toll may well be picked up in changes in, for example, house prices", he said.

Mark Hooper, founder of the social enterprise Indycube, says the tolls to stay in place with the income invested in better bus services around the congestion-prone Newport area.

He said: "We need to stop commuting, it doesn't make sense.

"It's just a waste of time and energy. And it's damaging to the environment."

Eye on Wales: End of the Severn Tolls is on BBC Radio Wales at 18:30 on Wednesday, 31 October - or listen on the BBC iPlayer

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