New developments, mobile masts and electric pylons can adversely affect property prices
While many developments have the potential to increase average house prices in the nearby areas, there are some projects that can have the opposite effect and actually reduce property prices. Large-scale infrastructure projects, mining operations and industrial installations are usually dirty, noisy and disruptive, and buyers try to avoid them at all costs. However, the installation of new electricity pylons and mobile phone masts has been hitting the headlines more recently, and part of the reason for the increased interest in these particular developments is the effect they are having on net house prices in the affected areas.
The statistics surrounding masts and pylons in the UK
According to the Mobile Operators Association, there were more than 51,000 mobile masts located in the UK at the beginning of 2009. In urban areas, these masts are located at intervals of between 200 metres and 500 metres, and in rural areas they are spaced at intervals of 2 to 5 kilometres. In many locations, masts are being disguised, located inside existing tall structures or erected on the roofs of buildings. New technology means mobile operators are contacting private homeowners for permission to erect hidden masts on houses in return for rent.
Electricity pylons are not as inconspicuous as mobile telephone masts; in fact, they have changed little since they were first erected in the 1920s. A total of 88,000 pylons are currently delivering electricity to every corner of the country, and 22,000 of them are connected to the National Grid’s main network. These striking structures stand at over 50 metres tall, and they cast imposing shadows over houses that are situated close by.
Are associated health problems affecting property prices?
Despite the fact that several government-sponsored research programmes suggest that mobile phone masts are safe, there are still some dissenting voices in the medical community. This uncertainty has the potential to scare off potential property buyers – forcing local sold house prices downwards. However, the health risks associated with living in close proximity to electricity pylons seems a little more convincing. According to research by the medical group SAGE, people living within 60 yards of a high-voltage pylon are at an increased risk of developing certain forms of cancer and neurological disorders. The same report also calls for a minimum distance of 160 yards to be maintained between pylons and residential dwellings.
However, the need for more housing in the UK means that there will inevitably be more pylons appearing on British landscapes for many years to come. Faced with the prospect of potential health problems and the blight on the local surroundings, many buyers are simply avoiding homes that are close to these structures. There is some anecdotal proof that the proximity of masts and pylons is directly driving down house sale prices.
In 2006, a committee of leading health professionals was set up by the government to assess the potential health problems linked to pylons and overhead electricity lines. The committee suggested that new homes should not be built near existing pylons, and future pylons should be built well away from such structures. According to the committee, over 130,000 homes in the UK were too close to pylons in 2006 – something that experts say could devalue house prices by up to a quarter.
Net house prices in areas that are in close proximity to mobile phone masts have been affected in some areas of the country. However, due to the need for urban coverage for mobile phone networks – along with the roll-out of new 4G networks – it seems living close to a mobile mast in the city will soon become completely unavoidable. However, the well-documented health problems potentially associated with living close to electricity pylons could have a more profound effect on property prices – whether those health problems are proven or not. If your house is situated near to a pylon or mast and you need to assess the value of your home, then check what similar properties have sold for, try our handy property valuation tool which will givew you an approximate worth for your house.