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In 2015, the government launched its exciting ‘Northern Powerhouse’ proposal which focuses on boosting economic growth in key northern cities of England. Particularly within the “core cities” of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. The initiative focuses on several important areas of the economy including: transport and infrastructure, science and innovation and technology.
Major visionary schemes like the Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 (the first new north-south railway in this country for over a century), local road and rail upgrades and key advances in technology and internet speeds are already showing signs of bringing wealth from the South East up to the North.
Large and influential companies such as the BBC, Channel 4, KPMG and Burberry are slowly moving office spaces and HQ’s up into Northern cities, joining the likes of Asda, Morrisons, Adidas and the NHS who already have UK HQ’s there. Even the UK government announced it will be taking 6,000 jobs to its new regional hub in Leeds.
All this additional investment and business activity has brought with it a large degree of excitement. Is the north of England beginning to lay challenge to London’s traditional dominance? It certainly seems as though there is a push by northern cities to break the shackles placed on them by their larger southern brother. This has ultimately had a profound but positive effect on the property market in the north of England. In 2019, UK house prices grew by an average of only 1.7%, whilst five Northern Powerhouse cities boasted annual increases of over 4%. The highest in the country. Furthermore, rental yields remain the highest in the North West of England and look set to stay that way with growth predicted to continue in major northern cities.
Bradford is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. It is located 8.6 miles west of Leeds and lies in the eastern foothills of the Pennines. Bradford is also the third largest city in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Outside of London, Bradford has the fastest growing population in the UK, currently standing at 528,000. An increasing population provides a vast number of opportunities for developers and investors. A young demographic reflects the need for additional rental accommodation and over 30% of residents are under the age of 20.
The M606, off the M62 motorway connects Bradford with the national motorway network. Leeds, Halifax, Wakefield, Harrogate and Keighley are easily accessible Via the A647, A650, A658 and A6036. Bradford Interchange provides direct links to Manchester in under an hour. Connectivity is not an issue for the city as Leeds Bradford Airport is situated a short 6 miles away from the north east of the metropolis. Bridgepoint Capital announced an investment of £70million to improve the airport.
In the 19th century Bradford was the international hub for high quality textile manufacturing. During the Industrial Revolution, Bradford became the wool capital of the entire world. Industrial growth led to the rapid expansion of the city, continuing with this trend, the local economy is diversifying into innovative engineering, printing, chemical, financial and banking industries. Once known as the ‘King of Wool’, the city now holds many titles including UNESCO City of Film and Curry Capital. The city is well known for having over 200 ethnic restaurants and hosts annual multi-cultural festivals such as the Bradford Festival. Featuring theatre, music and dance.
Originally founded as the Bradford School of Weaving, Design and Building in 1860s, the school transformed into the University of Bradford in 1966. With nationally recognised leading areas of research such as Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, Bradford School of Pharmacy, Peace Studies, Archaeology, Engineering, Management, and Centre for Skin Sciences. The Art School is also home to famous alumnus such as David Hockney. The city is an educational hub with an array of colleges and schools located in the centre. Bradford College is the UK’s largest provider of Higher Education courses outside the university sector with 23,000 students. As an educational hotspot, the demand for rental accommodation is constant. With local, national and international renters.
Bradford continues to harness its cultural diversity and expand its social cohesion. The West Yorkshire Combined Authority announced 15 local schemes to receive £52 million in funding. This includes the £9m One City Park office development, £3m for Phase 1 of City Village and millions towards a new enterprise zone. The City Village Scheme, consists of a ten-year plan to create thousands of new homes on the site of the Oastler Market. The scheme will create over 2300 jobs and safeguard hundreds of others, boosting the economy.
Bradford continues to turn over regeneration projects successfully. This includes the newly built Broadway Bradford. The £260 million shopping centre includes over 90 retail stores and restaurants, 1300 car park spaces and connects Little Germany to central Bradford. Key retailers include Marks & Spencers, Boots, Footasylum, and Next. The shopping centre also features The Light Cinema, providing an immersive shopping experience. The city has seen numerous redevelopments of public spaces. Including water features, improved transport links and restoration of historic architecture to create living spaces. As a result, property prices have inflated, making it a valuable city to invest in.
Throughout the years, regeneration has seen Salts Mill converted into a shopping centre, art gallery and restaurant complex. The textile mill was one of the largest industrial buildings in the world. The mill now runs as a retail, cultural and business hub. St Georges Hall, a Grade II listed building, welcomed a £8.5 million restoration project. The concert hall is the third oldest in Europe, and the oldest in the UK. Bradford is also home to one of the finest theatres in England, Alhambra Theatre, attracting visitors from across the country.
City Park, sits at the heart of Bradford’s £24.5m regeneration project. The public space features the largest urban water feature in the UK and is surrounded by an abundance of eateries. The Mirror Pool contains an impressive 107 fountains which showcase coloured displays in the evenings. The pool can also be drained, providing a flexible events space – embodying the community spirit.
The economy continues to boom in the thriving city, with an ever-growing young population. A profound number of business opportunities are available with over 40 headquarters of leading companies situated locally. Including Yorkshire Building Society, Morrisons, Hallmark Cards, Provident Finance, Yorkshire Water. The business giants, with a combined turnover of £30billion, boost economic migration, employing over 370,000 staff collectively.
Bradford is currently one of the investment hotspots in the UK. Research shows areas such as Apperley Bridge, Idle and many other saw the highest price growth over the past 10 years. Growth in the BD10 postcode was equivalent to almost £50,000. In a recent postcode table of annual rental yields, BD1 was also shown to deliver yields of over 9%.
Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, sits on the Northern shore of the Humber Estuary. The English Town in East Yorkshire, was crowned Capital of Culture, by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport in 2017. As well as the Capital of Culture, Hull also takes the title of the ‘Most Poetic City’. With poets such as Philip Larkin and Andrew Marvell living there in the past. The city is surrounded by history dating back before the Second World War. Where it started as a market town, military supply port, trading hub, fishing and whaling centre and exporters of wool.
In recent years, the retail sector, tourism, the arts, further and higher education sectors have played an increasingly prominent role in the process of economic regeneration. Therefore, raising the profile of the city. The Hull Fair, is the largest and oldest travelling fair in Europe and continues with extraordinary history, showcasing every October – the fair celebrated its 700th anniversary in 1993.
With many great landmarks, Hull is also home to the deepest aquarium in Europe, The Deep. The city has been revamped with spectacular lighting and unique, colourful fountains in Queens Victoria Square. Mirrored pools at Trinity square and an Italian-style plaza surrounding Hull Minister. The Hull New Theatre was also revitalised with a £16m investment and the city now welcomes the addition of Hilton hotel in Ferensway. The new and improved marina and fruit market are the cultural and social heart of the city. Derelict houses have been transformed into art galleries, contemporary bars and music venues.
With a population of 321,000, Hull is the 4th largest city in the region of Yorkshire & the Humber. Home to a growing population of young people, the city enrols over 16,000 students at The University of Hull. With an influx of students, the demand for property increases in the city. As a result, this increases the rate of rental property prices.
Hull is a key gateway on the UK’s busiest trading estuary. The Humber Ports are the UKs biggest ports complex, supporting 12,000 jobs and contributing to over £800 million to the economy a year. The Port of Hull handles approximately 10 million tonnes of cargo, amounting to £12 billion in trade each year. The M62 motorway and A63 road links Hull to the cities of Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool as well as the rest of the country. The Highways England project, part of a wider £400m scheme to ease congestion on the major road, will help connect the city centre to Hull’s marina area. The city is also home to the 8th longest suspension bridge in the world! Impressively, Humber Bridge is the only bridge of this scale you can cycle across.
Over the last 8 years, £1.5bn of regeneration investment has been poured into the ever-growing city of Hull. Arco, the UK’s leading safety equipment supplier has also invested £25m in a new National Distribution Centre in Hull. In 2019, construction began on the largest new-build office development in Hull for more than half a century. In July 2014, the Fruit Market was transformed into Hull’s Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI). The project was supported by Humber’s Local Growth Fund of £1.3m. The space is now home to 200 tech firms as well as hundreds of digital specialists and freelancers. The £130m plans for Albion Square, will see a new shopping, leisure and housing development. Accompanied with a new multi-storey carpark. A new ice arena will also feature in the heart of Hull. The Old Town area was named as 1 of 10 Heritage Action Zones by Historic England and received a share of £6m. In May 2019, a £42 million construction investment raised flood defences, protecting 113,000 properties from climate change and tidal flooding.
The city of Hull continues to receive regeneration investments. This trend continues as the city establishes itself as the UK’s leader in renewable energy. The Siemens Gamesa factory in Hull, is producing the blades for the Hornsea Project Two. This will be the world’s biggest wind farm when operational in 2022 and no doubt will boost economy in the city. Properties with a HU1 postcode, in the city centre, achieved 5% NET yields and have seen a 20% price increase over the past 5 years.
Leeds is the proud home of CityRise and a city growing at a phenomenal rate. This vibrant city has established itself as the UK’s second largest regional economy and leading centre for financial and legal services outside of London. All top six law firms have offices in Leeds and the city employs almost 30,000 people in banks and building societies, making it a powerhouse of Yorkshire and the North of England.
Leeds City Council recently unveiled ambitious plans to double the size of the city centre in their exciting new South Bank regeneration project. They aim to regenerate 253 hectares of land that lies south of the River Aire in Leeds. Equivalent to 350 football pitches in size, the regeneration will help to double the size of Leeds city centre; it will provide over 35,000 jobs and over 8,000 homes, representing one of the largest city centre regeneration initiatives in Europe.
The newfound lure of Leeds as a city to live in has catapulted it up the UK house price and rental growth tables. It is forecast that house prices in Leeds will grow by 17.1 per cent by 2023, whilst rental growth in Leeds is also expected to rise 17.1 per cent over the next five years. Compared with other major UK cities, and more locally with York and Harrogate, the cost of purchasing residential property is considerably lower in Leeds. This, coupled with strong economic growth, has led to a predicted property price increase of an average of 3.3 per cent a year over the next five years with rental growth predicted to increase by an average of 3.2 per cent per year over the same period. This is well above the UK average forecasts of 2.2 per cent price growth and 2.4 per cent rental growth.
If you are looking to purchase an affordable city centre property with attractive rental yields and house price growth, then Leeds might well be the city you have been searching for.
If there is a city that epitomises what the UK is all about then Liverpool is probably it. A driving force during the Industrial Revolution, Liverpool has helped shape the UK and the world over centuries. It is the birthplace of the legendary British Rock group the Beatles and home to two footballing giants in Liverpool FC and Everton FC. This old port city, which has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site, has truly seen it all and has exciting plans to take it back to its former glory days.
Liverpool is currently undergoing a £14bn regeneration led renaissance. Be it the redevelopment of their iconic waterfront, a new creative district or a world-leading knowledge sector, Liverpool is leading the way in reimagining the urban landscape. In the next five years, Liverpool will deliver 10,000 new homes, Everton FC’s new stadium, a new cruise terminal, a new TV and Film hub, £250m of road infrastructure and 2 million sq ft of commercial office space.
The property market in Liverpool is equally impressive, with fantastic investment opportunities across the city. Over the past five years, property values in Liverpool have catapulted by 25.2%. Apartments have fared particularly well, increasing in value by 26% over the same period. Furthermore, with some of the lowest property prices in the country, Liverpool’s rental yields are sky high. In fact, Liverpool has an astonishing six postcodes listed in the 25 best areas for buy-to-let investment in the UK, including L1 in the top spot with a 10% yield.
This Atlantic-facing city truly is the gateway to the Northern Powerhouse and with a GVA of £30bn per annum has investment opportunities in abundance. For more information on the governments vision for Northern Powerhouse cities check out their dedicated website.
Of the five major Northern Powerhouse cities, Manchester is the largest and best known. Home to many large businesses, iconic football clubs and a globally renowned food and drink scene, it is a city that is revered across the world. Within the Greater Manchester area lives almost three million people, providing a huge workforce for businesses moving up north and no shortage of housing demand for property developers.
In fact, demand for prime location accommodation in Manchester city centre is flourishing, with a recorded 117% rise in people moving to the city in 2019 compared to 2018. Furthermore, residential Lets agreed also rose by 103% over the same period, as Manchester remains a hotspot for property investors due to its strong rental demand linked to the high number of young professionals living in the area.
As more businesses move to the city, with major telecommunications brand TalkTalk the latest to relocate there, it is expected that more people will move to Manchester in pursuit of careers. With these exciting prospects in mind, there is simply no better time to invest in this rapidly growing city.
Approximately 8.5 miles from the North Sea, situated on the northern bank of the River Tyne, you will find the prosperous city of Newcastle. Newcastle upon Tyne, is the most populous city in North East England and the eighth most populous urban area in the UK. Once a Roman fort, the city is now known as the North Eastern Powerhouse. Developed around the Roman settlement Pons Aelius, the city was named after the castle built in 1080 by Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. Until the early 1400’s, when Newcastle became a county of itself, it was part of the county of Northumberland.
Newcastle was an important centre for the wool trade and coal mining industry in the 14th century. River Tyne was amongst the world’s largest shipbuilding and ship-repairing centres in the 16th century when the ports were developed. The city is home to numerous architectural icons, including the Tyne Bridge; the Swing Bridge; the Millennium Bridge; Newcastle Castle; Grey’s Monument; and Theatre Royal. The iconic Angel of the North sculpture, completed in 1998, was designed to create a ‘sense of embrace’. The 20-metre-tall sculpture signifies the transition of the city, from an industrial age to an information age.
The momentous industrial expansion led to a significant boost in population as it rose from 87,784 in 1851 to 266,671 in 1911. Newcastle’s population has now spiked to 450,360. It is a major student city, therefore a great place to invest. The University of Newcastle upon Tyne enrols around 23,000 students from 120 countries. Northumbria University has around 27,000 students at two campuses in Newcastle. Both universities attract over 9000 international students each year, adding to the rental demand for high-quality accommodation.
Growing from a city of coal mines and shipyards, the city now consists of modern business parks. This includes Cobalt Park, the largest office park in the UK, with over 2.4million ft2 of commercial space. Consequently, increasing the employment rate across the city. Currently 12,000 people are employed at Cobalt Park. Therefore, making it an attractive investment location because a higher percentage of a working population results in an increased demand for rental property. The Quayside area near the river has been extensively regenerated and now features the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Sage music venue. The economy of Newcastle contributes £13billion towards UK’s GVA each year. As well as adding, £600million to the local economy, through a plethora of leading industries in digital technology, science, retail, tourism, and cultural centres.
Outside of London, Newcastle is one of the best-connected cities in the UK. During the mid-late century, connection to the estuary and coastline made Newcastle an important transport and trade hub. Now as the city continues to develop, the HS2 will also connect through Newcastle and Durham. Improving transport links will benefit the local economy and job prospects by creating further opportunities, thus, boosting house prices. Newcastle International Airport, is the largest airport in the North East area and connects you to over 85 worldwide destinations. Over 30 trains travel daily to London, with a commute of just 2hr 45mins. Newcastle Central Station, is one of six Grade 1 listed railway stations in the UK, it was the first covered train station in the world, opened in 1850 by Queen Victoria.
Newcastle is one of the few city centres to feature a waterfront, as a result, attracting many potential tenants and residents. The current average price in Newcastle is £128,100. This is lower than the UK average. However, property prices have increased by 3.5% over the last year and over 17.7% in the past decade. Major regeneration projects have transformed the city as a UK hotspot for prospective investors. Newcastle’s digital infrastructure received a £12.5m investment, providing the fastest broadband speeds in the UK. The investment also provides free city centre wi-fi.
Sheffield, previously nicknamed the ‘Steel City’, gained an international reputation for steel production in the 19th century. The city and metropolitan area is located in South Yorkshire, England. Known as one of the greenest major cities in Britain, Sheffield has more than 2 million trees and a third of the city lies within the Peak District National Park. Sheffield is one of the largest cities in England, with a thriving and diverse metropolitan population of 730,000.
Lying adjacent to the M1, Sheffield is easily accessible by road, with links to towns and cities across the UK. Internally, it is easy to commute locally across Sheffield using the Supertram network. A truly connected city, with four airports within a half an hour drive and direct train links to London. Known to adapt and diversify, the city has also future-proofed the economy. This thriving commercial city presents an excellent opportunity for property investment with two large scale transport projects on the horizon. Sheffield will be connected to the new HS2 high speed rail network, reaching London within 87 minutes. There are also plans for a Trans-Pennine tunnel to connect Sheffield to the booming city of Manchester. In turn, broadening the opportunities available for the younger and working population.
Sheffield boasts a dynamic and creative city culture, with a vast number of museums and galleries positioned in the city. It is home to The Millennium Gallery, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the North of England. The Site Gallery is also undergoing a major redevelopment. Investment projects are rapidly changing the face of the city and building on its capital growth.
The city is home to two world-class universities: The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam. People continue to move into the city for jobs and the city is home to over 65,000 students. The Sheffield Council predicts this figure will rise to 100,000 by 2039. Areas with large student populations naturally develop an increased demand for student accommodation. Therefore, Sheffield is a hotspot for investors.
The city offers great business opportunities, and so attracting the younger population. In 2014, 19 of the Yorkshire regions biggest companies were situated in Sheffield. Over the next decade, it is predicted up to 70,000 additional jobs will be available in the city. With over 52,000 businesses in operation, Sheffield continues to see a wealth of regeneration projects take place. Following the success of the Heart of the City I Scheme, the next project ‘Heart of the City II’ is now underway. The £470 million investment scheme will fund the development of two new hotels, retail, leisure, grade A office space and city-centre living. A further £175 million has been invested into the West Bar Square scheme, redeveloping the Riverside Business District with new offices, apartments, shops and restaurants. The successful regeneration projects continue to have a positive effect on the property sector. As prices rise and the number of potential tenants looking to rent accommodation also increases.
Sheffield remains as one of the most affordable areas in the UK for buying property, yet generates high rental yields due to increased rental demand. Over the past 5 years, property prices have risen by 25%, exemplifying the rate at which Sheffield is expanding.
Once a Medieval City, York is Now UK’s First Gigabit City
York is a cathedral city at the confluence of River Ouse and River Foss in North Yorkshire. The medieval city carries immense history, dating back to AD 71. On the East Coast Mainline railway, York is located midway between London and Edinburgh. Positioned only two hours away from London Kings Cross. York has a well-connected infrastructure, with trainline services running to cities such as Newcastle, Leeds, and Manchester.
Famous for its connections with the railways and chocolate making. York is the original home of renowned businesses such Terry’s Chocolate, Rowntree and Nestle. The city of York is flourishing with predominant industries including IT, bioscience, and an upcoming creative and tech scene. It also has a plethora of independent cafes and traditional fine dining restaurants.
Known as the UK’s first Gigabit City, an Ultra Fibre Optic network has been installed across York. Reaching speeds of up to 1 Gigabit. High speed internet in a home is a growing priority for potential tenants. This also plays a factor for the job growth in the city and the influx of tech companies. In recent years, York has been one of the top-performing local authorities for employment growth.
York is a tourist hotspot, and the York Racecourse and Ebor Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. The city welcomes over 6.9 million tourist visits a year, according to Visit York – this provides great opportunities for investors looking for holiday property investments.
A Strengthening Property Market
York is the prime location to invest, as it is a student city. In total over 24,000 students attend The University of York and York St John University. Therefore, the student pool provides a strong market and investment opportunity for student let investment property.
Over the last five years, property prices in York have increased by almost 20%. Consequently, investing in York will generate a higher ROI in the long run. Demand for property is also on the climb, with a 28% increase over the last years. As a result, rents have risen by a further 4.5%.
The average price for a property in York is £291,303. Prices rose an additional 7% over two years. However, if we compare the data from across the decade. Figures from January 2010 to October 2020 show a strengthening market, with house prices increasing by 44%.
The Stamp Duty Holiday has also played a vital role in the strengthening property market. The incentive increased property transactions by 68% between May and August 2020.
Regeneration to Create Further Opportunities for Investors
York Central is a £77m scheme designed to regenerate the former railway land close to the city centre. This is one of the largest brownfield sites in England. The multi-million-pound project is set to deliver 2500 homes and a commercial area creating 6500 jobs. The development could boost the economy by £1.16bn, enhancing York’s capital growth. Therefore, making it an ideal investment location.
The Government are considering moving the House of Commons to York, temporarily. Ultimately, if this move is confirmed, it will provide a huge boost to the property market and economy in York, by offering higher skilled and paid jobs.
The Castle Gateway scheme will deliver 106 apartments and shops in Piccadilly. The scheme also includes a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Foss. A footpath and park will also be created behind the Castle Museum. The current Castle Car Park will move to St George’s field as a multi-story car park. As a result, the sustainable scheme will provide car-free housing, reducing carbon emissions from homes by 28%.
Alongside these major regeneration projects. York is also revitalising the following:
The city has a growing population of 210,618. With an increasing population and an abundance of opportunities becoming readily available for skilled professionals – investors can benefit as demand from tenants and buyers will continue to rise.
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