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Wakefield is undergoing widescale changes to transform into the perfect modern commuter city. With a population of 109,766, according to the 2021 census, the city has grown in population by more than 10,000 in the past 10 years. The increase in population is due to the quality-of-life improvements, lower property prices when compared to Leeds or Manchester and London.
Present day, Wakefield’s regeneration projects are taking effect with changes to the city centre, waterfront, and the immediate surrounding areas. The aim of these projects, as stated by the city council is to rediscover the city as a regional centre for the creative industry, building on the city’s art and cultural heritage.
Wakefield’s £5.4m train station upgrades have massively improved transport for commuters in and out of the city. Opening new lines and reducing congestion means commuting to Leeds in just 15 minutes. Those travelling to Manchester or London also have much-improved travel times, with both taking under 2 hours.
Wakefields residents commute to some of the UK’s largest cities. This increases the demand from quality tenants looking for rental properties. Young professionals are more likely to look for commuter locations, with the high cost of living in Leeds, Manchester, and London. This means that tenants are looking for central locations close to transport links to suit their work lifestyle.
Investors can benefit from quality tenants, as they are often easier to manage. Furthermore, an increase in skilled professionals in a commuter area can drive rental demand and property prices up, with many earning the larger city salaries.
Described by Wakefield Council as ‘the most important City Centre development for more than 20 years’, Trinity Walk was built in 2011. A 500,000 sqft shopping centre, it has changed the lives of Wakefield’s residents by bringing modern shops, cafes, and fast food. Trinity Walk comprises 64 stores and 1000 parking spaces.
Trinity Walk created hundreds of new jobs and increased footfall in the city exponentially, with a record footfall of around 11.4 million in 2015. However, while the development has been a massive success for the City of Wakefield, they continue to look for ways to develop it further. There have since been plans for redevelopment to add a cinema and more units to the shopping centre, because of the success.
Since Trinity Walk completed development, the population has grown by 10,000 people. It is likely Trinity Walk is a factor, as it retains and attracts more residents. So, for investors, it means a growth in the population has a ripple effect across rental demand and property prices. Investors looking to benefit from the growth in population can currently get affordable property and once regeneration is complete, their asset value should grow significantly.
City Centre Regeneration
Regeneration is underway in Wakefield, with a very strong infrastructure to build upon. Undeniably Wakefield has some amazing architecture and a very unified community. The City Council are building upon these foundations to improve this further with a focus on investing in their city centre project.
The regeneration project will see the City of Wakefield transformed into a modern powerhouse, with bars, gyms, restaurants, and many other attractions. This will be extremely appealing to potential tenants looking to commute from Wakefield. As a result, rental demand is expected to increase in the city as the population grows.
For investors, this is a great sign, as it could increase retention in the city. This is because residents have the quality-of-life improvements expected of a large city. An influx of amenities and facilities means that properties in the surrounding areas should experience shorter vacancy times.
Work is well underway on the 15-year plan to regenerate Wakefield’s waterfront. Situated on the River Calder, the project plans to see the restoration and conversion of the five Rutland Mills buildings. Hosting creative industry space, commercial offices, music studios and a boutique hotel. As well as holding a diverse food market and event space to boost tourism.
This will create new jobs and attract business, becoming a public hub for creatives and tourism. The project has received an extra £3m in funding from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership. With the creation of new jobs and businesses, the aim for Wakefield is to retain talent in the city.
A boost in tourism for the area should see the local economy grow. This will help the city council further develop. Wakefield council has a good record of putting new projects into action and investing in the city to ensure future growth. Following the success of the Trinity Walk project, good results are expected as a result of the waterfront regeneration.
Wakefield is becoming an increasingly attractive city for workers from UK major cities to reside in. The train station upgrades have made travel times far faster, for skilled professionals travelling to Leeds, Sheffield or Manchester. Despite using direct travel, residents of Wakefield could still make huge savings by travelling for work when compared to living in those cities, which hold higher rental prices.
For investors, well-located properties in Wakefield can offer high yields as rental demand is high. With property prices are low relative to those found in Leeds, Manchester and London. Furthermore, the city will benefit from the regeneration projects that are currently underway and property prices will grow, which will see investors benefit from capital growth.
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