FEARS have been voiced that house prices will spike considerably following the news that the tolls will end on the Severn crossings in 2018.

Last week, the secretary of state for Wales, Alun Cairns, announced that the tolls would be scrapped, saying it would boost the local economy and “strengthen links” between communities in South Wales and the South West of England.

The announcement has been widely welcomed by motorists, and businesses across the region, but concerns have been raised that the average price of homes will rise as a result.

Chepstow councillor Armand Watts said this week how a home on the market in Bulwark sold for tens of thousands pounds more than its original market price following a previous announcement in January that tolls would be halved.

He claimed all those interested in the property were from the Bristol area.

“A priority for the local authority has to be to retain our young people, they are the taxpayers of tomorrow and they are being forced out of the area,” added Cllr Watts.

The average price of a home in the Monmouthshire currently stands at £242,231 - the most expensive average price for the whole of Wales.

Nathan Reeks, owner of Nathan James estate agents in Caldicot and Magor, said a house in the area with a market listing of £150,000 recently sold for more than £200,000 to a Bristol-based buyer.

“These are people coming from places where you have properties going for around £297,000 for exactly the same house type,” he said.

“I have enormous sympathy for local people – prices will be pushed up to a level that they won’t be able to stay in the area.

“Along with first-time buyers, this will affect growing families looking to make a step up.”

Charles Heaven, meanwhile, the owner of Chepstow-based Crown Estate and Letting Agent, said he also expects the rental market to spike over the coming months.

Monmouthshire County Council leader Cllr Peter Fox admitted that the local authority faces “many challenges”

with regards to housing.

“This area of south Wales will be highly desirable and that will put pressure on our housing supply,” he said.

“We want the growth, the jobs, the benefits of the tolls going but we also want to keep our young people in the area.”