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    The Heart of England

    The Midlands, as it is often coined, is an area of central England that borders the South East, South West, North West, East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber. Also known as the heart of England, the Midlands is steeped in art, history, and culture. Home to one of Britain’s architectural jewels in Lincoln Cathedral and the birthplace of William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, it has a lot to offer residents and visitors alike. On top of this, the Midlands sets the scene for some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside including the rolling hills of the Peak District, the famous forests in Nottinghamshire, also known for Robin Hood and his merry men, and traditional seaside resorts like Skegness in the East.

    Due to its central location at the heart of the UK the Midlands offers easy access to both the north and the south, an attractive proposition for many countrywide businesses choosing where to set up their headquarters. The Midlands largest airport, Birmingham Airport, operates as the international gateway to England’s Heartland, with 50 airlines flying to over 150 destinations worldwide, welcoming over five million overseas inbound passengers a year. Furthermore, the Midlands is home to one of the largest and most-integrated rail networks outside of the capital offering fist-class connectivity to the rest of the UK.

    Birmingham

    Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, lying in the heart of the Midlands, has witnessed some dramatic and exciting changes to its city centre with further regeneration planned in the coming years. In 2015, the city council transformed the dilapidated train station with a brand-new shiny replacement. In 2017, Birmingham welcomed the £30 million redevelopment of 55 Colmore Row – one of the city’s most historic office buildings. There have also been enormous developments in updating and extending the tram services which will improve the commute of thousands living in areas outside of the city centre. Furthermore, the West Midlands was chosen for the UK’s first large-scale 5G ‘test bed’ – paving the way for the roll-out of the high-speed mobile network across the country.

    Future regeneration plans are even more impressive and include the £450 million Canalside regeneration scheme, billed as the most “exciting and important city centre regeneration scheme in Europe”. In 2022, work will begin on transforming Birmingham’s landscape, helped along by the £1.5 billion Smithfield project which will change the face of the area south of the city centre. Arguably the most anticipated project, however, is the completion of HS2. This new high-speed rail will cut journey times to London to only 49 minutes and has prompted a huge amount of investor interest. Living in Birmingham and commuting to work in London will become a feasible option and one many will utilise.

    Understandably, this will have a profound and positive effect on the property market in Birmingham. As we have seen down in the South East of England, housing prices have rocketed in London’s commuter towns and cities as London workers are looking to buy outside the capital. With Birmingham offering a new lower cost option to London living in the coming years, buying property there could well be a very good investment.

    Derby scene

    Derby

    The city of Derby lies on the banks of the River Derwent in the south of Derbyshire. Initially starting as a traditional county town, Derby grew to claim the city status in 1977. Well known for kickstarting Britain’s Industrial Revolution, Derby is the birthplace of some of the country’s first factories and spinning mills. It welcomed the world’s leading factories including Royal Crown Derby, Railway Engineering, Toyota Manufacturing UK’s automobile headquarters, and Bombardier Transportation. This innovative city also accommodates the HQ’s of the world’s second largest aero-engine manufacturer, Rolls Royce. The city became the centre of the British Rail Industry in the 19th century with the introduction of the railways.

    As well as a centre for advanced transport manufacturing, Derby has extensive transport links. Therefore, making it easily accessible to travel and commute to other areas of the country. Consequently, broadening the pool of potential tenants. Ten miles east to the city you will find the M1 motorway. The M1 links Derby southwards to London and northwards to Sheffield and Leeds. As well as Derby Railway Station, the A6, A38, A50, A52 and A61 are some of the roads linking Derby to the major cities. With direct links to Birmingham, Leicester, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Leeds, it is clear why the city is growing rapidly. The East Midlands Airport sits only 15 miles from the Derby city centre. Transportation developments in the pipeline, include the East Midlands HS2 Hub at Toton between Derby and Nottingham. This will be one of the most connected places in the UK, therefore attracting more investors and boosting rental demand.

    Due to the well-connected infrastructure, Derby is a popular place for companies to locate. Over the decade the city has seen millions of pounds of regeneration investment. As one of the UK’s fastest growing economies, key employers in Derby include the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, Rolls Royce and the University of Derby. The healthy economy, provides a number of skilled jobs, therefore offering an attractive proposition for the young people relocating in the UK.

    With a growing population of around 247,000 people, officials forecast the population could increase to 312,000 by 2037. Positive news for developers, as this will result in an increased demand for property. Derby has an array of opportunities for student property investors. The University of Derby hosts around 11,300 students on campus. In addition to this, there are a staggering 17 universities in a one-hour radius to Derby. Hence, providing a student talent pool of 400,000 people!

    Derby also provides visitors with ample retail, restaurants and bars to choose from. Intu Derby features over 200 shops, leisure attractions and eateries. Friar Gate is a centre for the city’s social life, whilst the Cathedral Quarter is a hub for independent shops, cafes, and restaurants.

    Furthermore, this culturally diverse city continues to receive millions of pounds of regeneration investments. Making it one of the UK’s top cities to invest in. Derby City Council has designed a City Centre Masterplan 2030, with an aim to leverage £3.5 billion in investment. The scheme aims to revolutionise the area, delivering 4000 new jobs and 1900 homes in the city centre. The Becketwell scheme is a mixed-use development planned to bring new homes, offices, and retail space to parts of Derby. The Silk Mill is also benefitting from a £16 million redevelopment, turning it into an inspirational ‘Museum of Making’. There is also an impressive £20m investment for a hi-tech business park that includes an Innovation Centre run by the universities. The continued sources of investment will only enhance the city’s capital growth, therefore, boosting property prices.

    Although house prices have increased by almost 200% in the last two decades, prices are still lower than the UK average. This is an attractive investment opportunity for investors with a smaller budget. Derby offers great return on investments with rental yields of 6.5% and above in some areas. This is due to affordable house prices at an average of £191,186 and an inflating demand for rental properties. A thriving young population and tenant pool also results in low property vacancy rate.

    Nottingham view

    Leicester

    Leicester is a city in the East Midlands of England. Located on the River Soar, the city is close to the eastern end of the National Forest. Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England, with a rich history dating back to two millennia. Dating back to Roman, Saxon and Norman times, ancient building and cultural sites are still present and attract tourists from across the county. The Iron Age settlement has seen much of the city rebuilt in the mid-1700, during the Industrial Revolution.

    Fast-paced industrialisation transformed the city into a thriving industry of knitwear, footwear and textile goods. Adapting to the modern times, the economy has strengthened by creating manufacturing units in the heart of Leicester. These include leading companies such as Next, Boden, ASOS and New Look. Therefore, creating more jobs and opportunities for the growing, working population.

    There has been an extraordinary growth in the population of Leicester. The population has grown from 329,839 in 2011 to 552,000 in 2020, making it the most populous city in the East Midlands region. As the population continues to grow, Leicester faces a shortage of rental accommodation. Therefore, investors have taken the opportunity to acquire properties and rent at higher prices, increasing net rental yields. Over the last five years, rents have increased by 9%, indicating a booming market. The city is also home to two highly acclaimed universities; University of Leicester and De Montfort University, with a total of over 43,000 students. Loughborough University also sits in Leicester. It is one of the UK’s most youthful and dynamic populations. The large population of young people reflects the student population and inward migration of the city. Famous for its diverse culture, Leicester hosts dozens of festivals throughout the year. It also showcases the largest Diwali festival outside of India. The Caribbean Carnival is said to be the largest, after Notting Hill.

    Leicester is a well-connected and accessible city to the north-east of Birmingham, south of Nottingham and west of Peterborough. The construction of the Grand Union Canal in the 1970s linked Leicester to London and Birmingham. In 1900, the Great Central Railway provided another link to London. Over the years the infrastructure has continued to expand. Leicester now sits at the heart of the national road network with easy access to the M1, M69 and M6. Located only an hour away from London and 30 minutes away from the East Midlands Airport. You can commute locally with the extensive bus services or connect to major cities further afield via the rail network. Leicester is situated at the intersection of two major railway lines – The Midland Main Line and Cross-Country line. All these factors contribute to the importance of Leicester in the UK’s economy with respect to property investment.

    Leicester has the second largest economy in the East Midlands. The city is home to many business giants including Dunelm Mill, Next, KPMG, HSBC, Santander, Hasting Insurance, British Gas, DHL and more. Leicester has two major shopping centres: The Haymarket Centre and The High Cross Centre. The centres have received great investments and now consist of designer shops, high street shops and department stores. Theatres, cinemas, and museums surround the cultural city. The city is home to Botanic Gardens, a City Farm, a Canal, a River Country Park, and the renowned National Space Centre.

    Leicester is the hub for space research. The European Space Agency, ESA, will launch a brand of its Business Incubation Centre in Leicester. The agency is extending the world’s largest programme of its kind to Space Park Leicester. The £100million research and business facility will sit close to the National Space Centre. It is estimated the park could contribute £750million a year to the economy in coming years. It will also lower the manufacturing cost and launch of satellites. Led by the University of Leicester, the park will open 2500 jobs and attract more business and investors to the city.

    The Leicester Waterside regeneration project will revolutionise 150 acres of former industrial land. The Waterside area, is a gateway to the city, located between A6 and Rally park and contains the River Soar and Grand Union Canal. The economic and physical transformation will create an array of opportunities along with new homes and workspaces. Connecting the city centre to the waterfront. It will also bring an influx of workers therefore, increasing the demand for high quality properties.

    In comparison to the rest of the UK, average property prices are slightly lower in Leicester. However, prices are expected to increase steadily due to the influx of tourists and students. Between 2018 and 2019, prices increased by 2% in Leicester. A newly built property cost £302,000 in comparison to an established property listed at £229,000. Property prices also ranged from £95,000 to £452,000. The average price for a property in Leicester is £230,137, this is slightly below the UK average of £256,000. Therefore, making it an attractive investment location.

    Nottingham

    Holding the title of UNESCO City of Literature, Nottingham is rich in history and linked closely to the legend of Robin Hood. A tale of a folk hero, passed down the generations, with the famous Sherwood Forest on its doorstep. Nottingham is part of the East Midlands region, situated 128 miles north of London and 45 miles north east of Birmingham. The city, which is surrounded by beautiful countryside has historic links to the lacemaking, bicycle and tobacco industries.

    The city possesses an excellent transport infrastructure. Nottingham’s award-winning public transport system includes the largest publicly owned bus network in England. The bus network is also one of the greenest in the UK. As the city continues to grow, a massive £1bn investment has been injected into the infrastructure. This will fund the growing networking of light rail trams, to ease congestion and access for commuters. With the introduction of the HS2 network, the city will benefit a great deal. Journey times to London will be reduced further with construction in the pipeline for Toton. The Toton Innovation Campus will create an additional 10,000 jobs, which will boost the economy and build on capital growth. This will also result in increased property prices.

    Nottingham is conveniently linked to the rest of the country, located close to the M1, M42 and the A1. This makes it the perfect hub for commuters and travellers, with London less than 100 minutes away. An additional £570m investment will revolutionise the Nottingham Tram Network. The local network will expand to 32km, reaching 20 out of the 30 biggest employers in the area as well as providing links to the city’s university campuses. An integrated Transport Hub will receive a £800m fund to improve the road network, therefore connecting professionals to further business opportunities. Widening the pool of potential tenants, as they look to reside within the city. The property sector will also benefit from international clients as the city features 2 major airports on its doorstep and is home to the UKs largest and busiest freight airport.

    In 2015, Nottingham was ranked in the top 10 UK cities for job growth in the public and private sectors. It was also revealed more new companies were started in Nottingham in 2014 than in any other city in the UK, with a 68% year-on-year increase. The prospering city has over 50 national and regional companies and is home to headquarters of business giants including Boots, Speedo, Vision Express, Specsavers Experian, Capital One and HM Revenue and Customs.

    Embarking on a period of economic regeneration, the city welcomes a £2bn redevelopment of the ‘Southside’ of the city centre. This includes a remodelled shopping complex, a new ‘City hub’ college campus and Grade A office space.

    Well known for its educational bodies the city is home to two world-class universities, The University of Nottingham, and Nottingham Trent University. The institutions are known internationally for their excellence in the fields of research. Powering the city’s expertise in healthcare, manufacturing, and technology. The population welcomes over 60,000 students each year, this provides a constant and attractive market for landlords and developers. With a continuous influx of students, rental demand will grow endlessly. This also promises a low vacancy rate as research has shown many students remain in the city after graduating.

    The wider Nottingham region has one of the largest labour pools in the UK, with over 889,000 people of working age. It is also home to an increasingly young population compared to other areas of the UK. Nottingham’s economy is expected to grow by 14.8% by 2027, therefore remaining as the fastest growing economy in the East Midlands.

    The city’s Creative Quarter is the heart of its digital and creative industry. Providing a vibrant and cultural hub of coworking spaces, retail, restaurant and living spaces. This is extremely attractive to young professionals as the opportunities are diverse, with collaborations and resources at hand.

    Property prices continue to inflate in Nottingham, in 2019, prices in the city grew faster than in any other UK city at 5.2%. The average property price sits at around £210,106; this is lower compared to other cities in the Midlands, therefore promising higher rental yields. Nottingham, is certainly a promising city for property investments.

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