HOUSE prices in Worcester have seen some of the highest rises in the UK because the city is now such a nice place to live, according to an expert.

The city has experienced the eighth biggest rise in average house prices in the country from £34,266 in 1986 to £182,644 in 2011 (a 433 per cent increase), according to a report by Halifax published yesterday.

Charles Robinson, a director of Griffiths & Charles estate agents in Foregate Street, Worcester, said the rise was down to Worcester being a “really nice place to live”, but warned the market was still struggling.

He said: “We’re on the map and there’s lots going on now which is fantastic.

"The rise was because houses were so cheap in the first place.”

Mr Robinson said the regeneration of Diglis and work on city centre shops and the riverside had all improved the area and made Worcester a more desirable place to live.

Meanwhile, another report shows that Malvern is the most unaffordable place to live in the region, costing people about 13 times the average annual wage for a house, with Herefordshire in third place. Across Herefordshire and Worcestershire, there has been a significant increase in the number of families on housing waiting lists rising from 20,341 in 2009 to 24,829 in 2010.

Housing associations have joined forces with the National Housing Federation, Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and other groups to demand more affordable housing be built in rural areas.

Figures from 2010 (the latest to be published) show:

Malvern Hills – the average home costs £250,493 – 13.8 times the average income of £18,122.

Herefordshire – the average home costs £223,664 – 12.7 times the average income of £17,628.

Wychavon – average home costs £249,645 – 12.2 times the average income of £20,457.

Worcester – average home costs £179,286 – 8.3 times the average income of £21,320.

Worcestershire – the average home costs £211,926 – 10.7 times the average wage of £19,869.

The figures showed that the average home in rural parts of the West Midlands were about 11 times the average income – much higher than in the region’s urban areas where house prices tend to be about 8.3 times people’s income.

Gemma Duggan, of the National Housing Federation, said: “House prices remain out of reach for thousands of households in the region.

"As unemployment is on the up in the region and benefits are set to be slashed, private sector rents also look set to rise.”

Guy Weston, of Festival Housing Group, said: “It’s pretty clear judging by the report that the housing market in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, as well as the wider West Midlands, is indeed broken.”

• Buyers will be able to purchase a new home with a five per cent deposit thanks to a scheme launched by the Government yesterday.

The NewBuy scheme will see the Government stump up 5.5 per cent of the mortgage on a home worth up to £500,000 and the housebuilder providing 3.5 per cent.

Barclays, Nationwide and NatWest have already agreed to start lending under the scheme.