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Blackpool Debate: Will Shale Boom Drive House Prices Up Or Down?

Elizabeth Broughton, Blackpool Gazette

A leading estate agent has claimed controversial shale gas fracking is hitting the house market and driving buyers away. But shale company says experience in America shows the controversial technique can drive prices up because of workers moving to the area.

Justin Allitt claims out-of-town buyers are being put off properties by the threat of shale gas drilling – and that could see house prices fall.

But Cuadrilla Resources, the firm behind fracking on the Fylde, has said experience in America shows the controversial technique can drive prices up because of workers moving to the area and claims about buyers being driven away were “misleading”.

Mr Allitt, from Allitt estate agents, said: “We have had a number of inquiries from people who are out of town buyers and they have mentioned it, and we had a property where the sale was agreed and the buyer withdrew because of fracking.

“I’m worried it could have a negative impact on house prices and the desirability of Fylde.”

Mr Allitt also said he had been targeted by anti-fracking campaigners aiming to disrupt the housing market by raising false concerns.

And he added although he had not seen any positives “so far” he was open to the possibility drilling would boost the economy, a view shared by Entwistle Green.

Paul Wignall, manager at the firm’s Blackpool branch, said: “I don’t think it will have much of an impact on house prices but there may be an increase in housing transactions, as people employed by the drilling company move into the area to be closer to where they work.

“This would potentially have a positive impact on the wider local economy.”

Cuadrilla Resources has suspended fracking while the government investigates earthquakes which hit Poulton last year.

A spokesman for Residents Action on Fylde Fracking added: “We have been contacted by people from outside the area saying that they were thinking of retiring to the Fylde but have decided that it is too risky with the shale gas plans.”

A spokesman for Cuadrilla Resources, which has sites in Weeton, Singleton and Westby, said: “Misleading claims from a minority of people which paint a very different picture do more harm to the local property market than any of Cuadrilla’s operations.

“Indeed, this important energy resource could have a positive impact, creating jobs and offering local people professional skills. This all creates wealth, enabling many more people to get on to the property ladder while also increasing overall demand for homes.“

Blackpool Gazette, 5 November 2012