School plan could hit prices

Plans to revise the way school places are allocated have led to fears of house price slumps in catchment areas.

In 2008, Brighton & Hove will become the first local council to scrap catchment areas around oversubscribed schools. Instead it will adopt a postcode lottery system for places. Several councils in the south of England are tipped to follow suit.

The move has outraged parents who bought properties in certain areas to ensure their children’s acceptance into the schools of their choice.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is now warning that house values around popular schools could plummet.

Its research shows parents would pay 8% over the odds for properties in desirable school catchment areas.

A spokesman for RICS says: “A secondary school with a good reputation can cause mayhem in the local property market. Buyers with children of school age will do and pay anything to get their kids places.”

But Frank Butler, founder of Mortgages PLC and a Brighton-based property in-vestor, says: “It’s more likely that house price changes will come from upward movements in interest rates, job losses and property affordability in relation to prices and incomes.

“The type of property, its size, proximity to parks, the sea and transport links will also be important.”

Pat Hawkes, chairman of Brighton & Hove council’s schools committee, says: “No school admission system can make 100% of people happy, but I believe this new system will be more fair to more people.”