Bradford named the best city in the country to start a business

Bradford has been named as the best city in the UK to start a business, analysis from Barclays bank has shown. The banking giant’s SME Growth Factors Index saw Bradford top the leader board ahead of Leicester, Coventry Edinburgh and Liverpool.

The index reflects the strength of 12 key growth factors such as business rate relief, infrastructure, broadband speed and labour productivity, which are essential to boosting business productivity and growth. It is based on analysis of the 20 largest cities by population size across the UK. Bradford was ranked first overall, reflecting good performances on road infrastructure (the top ranking), job vacancies (the top ranking), commercial rent costs (the top ranking), and business rate relief (the top ranking). Leicester featured in second place thanks to its strong business survival rate, distance travelled to work and level of business rate relief.

Coventry came in third place, with the highest net migration into the city. Additional Barclays analysis reveals London, Birmingham and Leeds – areas with the highest populations – have seen the highest number of business start-ups over the last six years. In the capital, almost 577,000 start-up businesses have launched since 2012, while Birmingham has seen 45,000 new businesses, and there have been 26,400 in Leeds.

Caroline Pullich, Head of SME for Yorkshire at Barclays Business Banking said: “It’s really encouraging to see that so many areas offering growth potential are outside of London and the South East, particularly with Bradford ranking as the top city across the UK. “We undertook this study because we support small companies right across the country, and are keen to help more people start and grow businesses wherever opportunities exist. We’re committed to investing in Bradford’s SMEs and entrepreneurs, evidenced through our recent ‘Invest in Bradford’ business roundtable events with local key business people.

“Entrepreneurs do need to consider the market for their particular company, but an environment that supports growth can make a real difference. The growth factors identified by the research can become even more valuable when small companies start looking to scale up and grow, which is something we particularly encourage.”

Yet when it comes to the strength of the growth factors in these cities, the results are less positive. London gives out some of the smallest amounts of business rate relief and has the highest commercial rent costs, appearing 12th on the overall list of 20 cities. Similarly, Birmingham features in 11th place, let down by its road infrastructure and poor quality of life, while Leeds ranks in 18th place, also as a result of its poor road infrastructure.

In comparison, just 16,800 of businesses have started in Bradford since 2012, 13,200 in Coventry, and 15,300 in Leicester – yet they have the strongest growth factors which are key to business productivity and growth.

(c) Yorkshire Post, March 2019

UK property market resilient with strong growth as Brexit looms

Edinburgh is a great place to invest in right now.

House prices in the UK increased by 2.8% in the 12 months to February 2019, taking the average price to £236,800, the latest lender index shows.

Month on month prices were up 5.9% and quarter on quarter they were up by 1.8%, suggesting a stronger than expected start to the year with Brexit less than a month away, according to the Halifax figures.

Russell Galley, Halifax managing director, pointed out that house prices have grown on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis for the first time since October 2018. He believes that it is the shortage of supply that is supporting growth.

He also pointed out, however, that while annual house price growth at 2.8% is within Halifax’s expectations, it is fairly subdued compared to 2015 and 2016, when the average growth rate was 8.3%.

‘People are still facing challenges in raising a deposit which means we continue to expect subdued price growth for the time being. However, the number of sales in January was right on the five year average and, at over 100,000 for the fifth consecutive month, the overall resilience of the market is still evident,’ he added.

According to Dilpreet Bhagrath, mortgage expert at Trussle, while the figures look positive, it is not so good that home owners seem reluctant to move, with many adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach to see how any Brexit deal might affect the market.

‘Buyers, particularly those looking to get on the ladder for the first time, shouldn’t be put off by rising prices. There are still good offers to be had in some areas of the country. Potential buyers who are concerned about the economic impact of Brexit should also be considering their own current and future circumstances when it comes to mortgaging. Opting for a fixed-rate mortgage may give provide more stability as they’ll know how much their payments are each month,’ she said.

But whatever happens with Brexit will be the test for the housing market, according to Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of online estate agents Housesimple. ‘Even with an acceptable exit deal in place, house prices are likely to face some heavy turbulence. But it’s nothing the property market can’t take in its stride,’ he said.

‘We can’t say with any degree of certainty how buyers and sellers are going to respond over the coming weeks, especially if a no-deal becomes the most likely outcome. There’s some evidence to suggest that sellers and buyers have already decided to wait, particularly in and around London,’ he explained.

He also pointed out that sales activity in the North West of England and Yorkshire alone is strong and there could still be a post Brexit bounce. ‘Far too much has been made of stalling price growth in the capital and the part Brexit has played, when in fact London was already showing signs of running out of steam well before politicians started squabbling around the Brexit table. The danger is that stuttering house price growth in London sets the tone for the whole country,’ he explained.

‘And the strength of regional property markets in the north, buoyed by strong first time buyer and investor numbers, is an encouraging sign that the performance of the UK’s housing market is not determined by what’s happening within the M25,’ he added.

(c) Property Wire, 8 March 2019

PwC to open new office in Bradford creating up to 285 jobs

Professional services giant PwC is opening a new office in Bradford as part of an ongoing transformation of its operating model.

PwC have chosen a 9,000 sq ft space in the city centre’s Godwin Street for their new Assurance Centre, scheduled to open in March 2019.

The centre will be focused on providing client services in key areas of PwC’s engagements, and allow the firm to standardise their processes using automation technology.

In preparation for the opening the company have already hired 60 members of staff from the region to be based in the new office, with an ambition to create a further 225 jobs at the site over the next few years.

PwC Leeds office senior partner, Will Richardson, said: “Our new PwC Assurance Centre is one of our key priorities in delivering a best in class proposition as one of the world’s leading professional services firms.

“Bradford is one of the largest cities in the UK, and the youngest city, offering a large and talented workforce that has so much to offer not just Northern Powerhouse growth but the UK’s economic growth too.”

(c) Bdaily News, 2019

Properties in Sunderland area enjoy spring surge in value

New statistics suggest properties on the edge of Sunderland are enjoying a spring surge in their value. With the region as a whole sharing a 1.4 per cent monthly increase in the average value of its properties, the figures for Houghton-le-Spring and Easington show 3.4 per cent and 3.2 per cent rises respectively.

The average price of a house in Houghton (pictured above) is now said to be £142,692 while in Easington the cost is £114,080. In Sunderland, where property prices grew 0.3 per cent in March, the average price of a property is now £142,811. In neighbouring Washington, the average cost has risen 1.1 per cent in the last four weeks to £155,202.

All four figures, compiled by North-East firm KIS, are still below the regional average cost of £168,000. This compares to £165,682 at the end of February and £163,467 at the end of March 2017.

Ajay Jagota, managing director of South Shields-based KIS Group and founder of deposit-free renting firm Dlighted, said: “These figures are clearly good news for North-East home owners. “But it’s important to remember that they are good news for people hoping to become North-East home owners too. “Recent government figures showed UK wages rising by 2.6 per cent a year.

“So with North-East house prices rising at a slower rate, this should mean more people able to take a first step on the property ladder. “One of the most interesting things about this month’s figures is how the North East’s property hotspots are in many cases on the peripheries of major cities rather than within the major cities themselves.

(c) Sunderland Echo

Leeds tipped for highest UK house price growth

Leeds tipped for highest UK house price growth Aspen Woolf


The lure of city living has propelled Leeds to the top of a UK house price and rental growth league table. Leeds is now rated as the UK’s top prospect for house price and rental growth in the UK, according to JLL’s latest forecast. The city knocks Manchester off the number one spot, a position it has held for the last four years. JLL believe that house prices in Leeds will grow by 17.1 per cent by 2023 while Manchester could see a 15.9 per cent rise and Liverpool a growth of 12.6 per cent. Rental growth in Leeds is also forecast to rise 17.1 over the next five years compared to 16.5 per cent in in Manchester and 15.9 per cent in Liverpool.

JLL say that in recent years, cities in the north of England have established themselves as standout performers in terms of residential investment and development. The lure of city living and a lack of housing supply has helped push up values with Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool seeing supply shortfalls due to demand from people keen to live in the heart of the cities.

Yorkshire as a whole could see house prices rise by an average 10.4 per cent by 2023, while the North West could see a 12 per cent growth. JLL predict that Greater London will be the top-performing region with a 14.8 per cent gain and the North East with a 6.6 per cent increase seeing the lowest rise. The predictions assume that a Brexit deal will be made and there will be a transition period until the end of 2020. In its role advising investors and developers, JLL warn that “ political headwinds” have left some sectors of the residential market presenting more inviting opportunities than others. It adds: “It will be important to ‘Find the Gap’ rather than to blindly back residential in the broadest sense.” JLLs “Find the Gap” report tips Leeds as its best bet for UK investors due to its potential.

Compared with other major cities, and more locally with York and Harrogate, residential property values are typically lower in Leeds. Real Home: printmaker Helen… For sale: Yorkshire’s most glamorous… This, coupled with a lack of new development in the city centre since the global financial crisis and ensuing property crash in 2008, means JLL anticipates values to increase by an average of 3.3 per cent a year over the next five years with rental growth forecast to increase by an average of 3.2 per cent per year over the same period. This is well above the UK average forecasts for 2.2 per cent price growth and 2.4 per cent rental growth. Charles Calvert, head of JLL’s residential team in Leeds, says: “There remains very little development of apartments for owner occupation in Leeds.

The majority of schemes that have been completed in recent years have been marketed off-plan and targeted at buy-to let investors. These schemes are relatively small in scale and the majority are office-to residential conversions. We believe that there is significant pent-up demand for high quality, highly specified new apartments within the city which will attract a significant premium over existing stock and we have buyers queueing up waiting the delivery of the first scheme to deliver this level of quality.”

He adds that a total of 29 sites have been identified that could deliver in excess of 10,000 apartments, doubling the existing number of flats in the city centre. However, only 45 per cent of these developments have planning permission. This means the schemes will be delivered over several years, reducing any risk of a short to medium term over-supply. The majority of the schemes in the pipeline are build to rent developments. Legal & General’s 250-unit Mustard Wharf and Aberdeen Asset Management’s 111-unit Aireside on Kirkstall Road are the most recent schemes to start on site. The total number of private rental apartments currently under construction totals just over 1,300. JLL say demand for land in the city centre remains extremely strong driven by the shortage of supply.

The majority of investors weighing up the city have private rental or student housing schemes in mind. The average price and average rent for a two bedroom apartment in Leeds remained flat in 2018 at £180,000 to buy and £895 pcm to rent. In Manchester city centre, a two bedroom flat costs an average £255,000 and the average rent is £1,135. In Liverpool, a two-bedroom flat is £195,000 to buy with a monthly rent of £1,000. JLL say the the main risks to its assumptions is that UK economic weakness is prolonged by a year or two and the Brexit deal negotiated and approved is not as favourable for the UK as assumed.

It believes that this would still result in an economic recovery, but a weaker upturn after 2019 compared with our base case assumptions. The third risk is that the UK exits the EU with no deal. And whilst we deem this to have a probability of less than 10 per cent at present, it would result in a far weaker UK economy over the next five years.

(c) Yorkshire Post

A look at the potential in the UK housing market

Leeds has largest regional economy outside London/South East


Gavin Eustace, Head of Residential Development at Octopus Property, counters Brexit gloom with a look at the potential in the UK housing market, particularly in the regions.

With the Government preoccupied with the ongoing Brexit discussions with the European Union, the housing shortage in the UK is becoming a bigger and bigger problem.

It is a direct result of the chronic shortage of good quality housing being delivered to meet the growing demand and shifting demographics in the UK.

The government’s continued inaction on the housing issue has led to the significant rise in house prices and rents in London leading to the exodus of young families and professionals from the capital to the regions.

This trend was reflected upon in contributions from participants at a recent Octopus Property debate, `London versus the Regions in the Brexit era’, the majority of whom were residential developers.

Changing transport links have had a big impact on the housing landscape

For example, towns in the South East including Reading, Slough and Windsor will benefit from the increased connectivity and ease of access to London through Crossrail, while cities in the midlands such as Birmingham will be strengthened by the HS2 high-speed rail line.

These developments in transport infrastructure are so significant that Birmingham is not only an economic hot spot in its own right but can also claim to now be within the London commuter belt with a travel time of 1hr 25.

Culture and industry are driving consumer interest

Birmingham has benefitted from a fast-growing local economy as well as large-scale city centre regeneration which is helping fuel population growth. Those familiar with the recent regeneration successes in the UK will easily spot how Birmingham is following in the footsteps of Manchester in providing the combination of affordability, accessibility and interest that consumers seek.

Similarly, other hubs of culture and industry including Bristol, Leeds, Bradford, Farnborough, Woking and Edinburgh are all highly attractive to consumers who are looking for the perfect blend of affordability, connectivity and accessibility.

Property investors are turning to the regions

Next, the debate was informed by Savills research which highlighted that projected five-year growth for house prices was becoming less London-centric with the northwest leading the regions while London is now ranked last. (Source: Savills, Oxford Economics, 2018)

Confidence is key to the success of any market, and this is certainly true of housing, where property values are so closely correlated with consumer confidence. Within housing, and whatever the newspaper headlines, the industry can be justified in having confidence.

Despite the current trends, London will always have its place at the pinnacle of the UK housing market. With concerns on whether properties will easily be sold in the regional markets, many will continue to favour the capital.

Investors, brokers and lenders need to work together

At this point, all those involved in UK housing, from lenders to developers to legislators, can work to protect what is a well-established marketplace.

By working together, we can ensure the UK housing market remains on course. Octopus Property is committed to lending to borrowers throughout the market. We look forward to continuing to do so.

With access to a range of institutional and retail funds which enable us to deploy many hundreds of millions of pounds every year, we know that we have an important role to play in providing support to brokers and borrowers. It’s a role we have undertaken for the last ten years as a specialist residential lender, along with financing commercial and developmental projects.

(c) Octopus Property