How is Leeds becoming a 21st century city?

A growing population and a focus on major industries has set aside Leeds as an unofficial capital city of the North. Regeneration is now propelling Leeds into the future with a number of projects designed to firmly establish the city as a major player in the UK’s economy.

Statistics published last year by the Centre for Cities shows how Leeds has the 3rd quickest growing city centre in the UK between 2002 and 2015. This is a clear mark of how the city is has improved as an urban centre in the last decade. It’s an encouraging statistic too, because it suggests the brain drain phenomenon – where local talent moves away – is not affecting this city. Leeds is a place for families and generations to grow.

Leeds also has one of the youngest populations in the UK, thanks in part to a large student population, but also as a hotbed of employment opportunities for ambitious young professionals. Financial and business services account for 38% of the total Leeds’ output and other key sectors include retail, leisure and the visitor economy, as well as construction, manufacturing and the creative and digital industries – this latter one being a big attraction for the younger generation of workers.

What is it that young professionals like In the 21st century,? A vibrant and stylish urban environment with plenty of opportunity to enjoy time outside of the 9-5. The Yorkshire Post recently published an article indicating Leeds’ ambition, and need, to become a “24-hour economy” in order to retain a thriving city centre. The key to this is a combination of ambitious city centre residential developments combined with high quality jobs in the service sector. This will drive further investment and regeneration into the area and help to cement Leeds as a prime example of urban living.

One of the best examples of regeneration in Leeds, in fact in Europe currently, is the South Bank project – worth over £350 million and introducing 8,000 new homes and 35,000 new jobs. We’ve written about this incredibly ambitious before – you can have a look at our article here – but the main takeaway is that this project is set to double the economic output to the city centre and will perhaps be the largest contribution to creating a modern urban lifestyle in Leeds.

Here are 5 of our top picks, demonstrating how Leeds is changing for modern times:

 

1. The Holbeck Urban Village

A site of former industrial buildings on the South Bank has undergone an impressive regeneration, modernizing the area yet retaining a sense of past by protecting Listed Buildings. Today, Holbeck hosts about 400 businesses, mainly in the creative and digital sector, and is home to a population of between 600 and 1,000 people in its 15 hectare area.

 
2. Leeds Bradford Airport Upgrades

A new £12 million terminal building is set to add more facilities, space, retail and food and beverage options to the airport. The changes to boost efficiency and cut delay times, while bringing the airport in line with the city’s broader regeneration, and supporting overall economic growth.

The plans are part of the ‘Route to 2030 Strategic Development Plan’, aiming to increase passenger numbers from four million to seven million by 2030.

 
3. Innovation at Leeds’ University

A new centre for innovation at Leeds University has opened at a cost of £40 million. Business, health, engineering, data and environmental disciplines are now brought together in the new 6,684 square metre Nexus building, including 60 spacious offices, 12 purpose-built laboratories, 11 meeting rooms and a 120-seat lecture theatre all spread across 6 floors. A £13.5 million fitness and wellbeing centre offers a welcome break from intense research and study.

 
4. Refurbishment of the Leeds Playhouse

Who doesn’t like a play? The Leeds Playhouse, formerly known as the West Yorkshire Playhouse, has recently undergone a £15.8 million development. Many major changes have been made including redisgning the whole façade to orientate the theatre towards the city, providing better access to the 750 seat Quarry theatre. The new Playhouse also includes a third studio space – the Bramall Rock Void – as well as a new restaurant, café and bar, and improved public spaces.

 

5. A new icon on the skyline

As an example of prime real estate near the South Bank development, we’ve chosen the fantastic Springwell Gardens development, the next residential project to rival the likes of Candle House and become a part of the ever growing cityscape emerging in Leeds. With a sail like façade and terraced roof gardens, this development of luxury apartments is the renters dream. Strategically located on the important Whitehall Road, home to the new Government Hub, Yorkshire Post, NHS Digital and the HMRC, Springwell Gardens’ location makes it close to many amenities. Leeds Train Station, the city centre and the new £350 million CEG Holbeck urban village Southbank development are just 10 minutes’ walk away.

What is South Bank Leeds?

South Bank Leeds is a massive regeneration project aiming to double the size of Leeds city centre by transforming the ex-industrial area south of the River Aire. This 253 hectare space is the size of 350 football pitches, and will be transformed into a ‘globally distinctive’ destination for living, learning, creativity, leisure and investment. 8,000 new homes and 35,000 new jobs are due to be created as part of this effort to make Leeds a standout city in the UK

What’s Happening on the South Bank?

South Bank Leeds has been a home for major companies from ASDA Walmart’s European headquarters and to SKY, for many years. Currently, there are 3,000 people living on the South Bank, alongside over 250 businesses. Thanks to over £500m of announced investment in what is one of Europe’s biggest ever regeneration projects, Leeds is set to become even more prosperous. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key initiatives:

• The acquisition of the Holbeck Portfolio Sites by the Commercial Estate Group, along with major proposals for a mixed-use development at this key strategic location
• Work to repair Hunslet Mill and Victoria Works progressing on site
• Vastint’s mixed use development proposals for the 22 acre Tetley Brewery Site including a City Park, their second investment in the UK and the first outside London
• Planning permission granted for over 1,000 new homes at Tower Works, Iron Works and Dandara with an increase in applications for 3 bedroom plus units
• City’s proposals for a £125m Climate Innovation District
• A further phase of development for Leeds College of Building in the area.
• The new HS2 station will be combined with Leeds train station and is set to welcome more passengers than Gatwick airport.

Among many unique elements of the South Bank is the commitment to retain elements of the area’s industrial past and historic sense of community, particularly in the Holbeck area. The South Bank Leeds project aims to reconnect these historic suburbs with Leeds City Centre once again, adapting historic buildings and giving them a new life in the 21st century.

At the heart of the development, a brand-new skyscraper will transform the city’s skyline. Forty storeys high and 142 metres tall, it will take the mantel of tallest building in Leeds from Bridgewater Place.

Plans have also been submitted to build 928 new residential properties in a sub-project called X1. The houses will be built on the old Evans Halshaw site off the A61, at a cost of more than £200 million. Comprising five separate buildings, each equipped with individual gyms and gardens, the development will also boast cafes, restaurants, offices and shops.

City living will be more in demand than ever, thanks to various developments within the South Bank Leeds area. For example, Arthur’s Fold boasts 101 brand-new apartments, with a mix of high-spec one and two bedroom units. It also has the added extras that are a prerequisite for urban living – a gym, lounge and cinema for residents. Prices for the apartments start at £122,500, a clear indication of the sheer value for money investors can expect.

High Speed Rail 2 and transport

Special mention should be given to the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) initiatives, alongside the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail, which are due to transform connectivity in the Northern Regions and between the North, Midlands and the South.

Leeds trains station is already the busiest in the North of England, but the above projects are forecasted to increase growth by a massive 143% growth. A particular regeneration focus is therefore earmarked around the station area to transform it into a thoroughly modern and thriving transport hub.
There are enormous benefits to the planned investment in rail will, including bringing people together; bringing new markets within reach; enabling innovation; bringing new talent to employers and, for new jobs to be within reach of people.

The 10 key areas

You can find out very detailed information from the informative South Bank Leeds Regeneration Framework. One key section of the framework is the focus on 10 key ‘areas of movement’ – the main aspects of the overarching South Bank initiative. We’ll break them down here so you can get a sense of the whole picture.

1. Connecting the green & blue network

Making the River Aire, and areas close to it, world-class leisure space in the very centre of the city centre, creating places for people of all ages to enjoy using best practice in sustainable design.

2. A legible & accessible public transport network

Public transport needs to be prioritised and able to provide access to all areas of the city, supported by a safe, comfortable and attractive pedestrian core spanning the river, and which will complement the existing Public Transport Box.

3. Create a rationalised & distributed road hierarchy

Traffic will be encouraged to move around the city centre rather than through it. The Inner Ring Road will have the greatest volume of traffic, while a proposed City Boulevard will accommodate slower moving vehicles, prioritising pedestrians and cyclists in a pleasant and safe environment.

4. Improve access beyond the Inner Ring Road

Improved links across the Inner Ring Road between South Bank and the neighbourhoods of Holbeck, Beeston, Hunslet, Cross Green and Saxton Gardens will allow greater freedom of movement, better social and cultural integration, and improved access to services and amenities.

5. Implement a sustainable public transport and parking strategy

Increase the use of sustainable forms of transport through appropriate infrastructure and use of demand management to ensure development takes place in locations that are easily accessible by a variety of sustainable transport modes.

6. Activate the waterfront

Recaptures its role as a focus of activity, with quality public space and new attractions. It is connected to surrounding neighbourhoods by the strategic green network.

7. Adapt heritage & link existing assets

There is an opportunity to strengthen the identity of the South Bank through the adaptation and reuse of heritage buildings together with the integration of adjacent assets.

8. Create and revitalise centres

Creation of a pedestrian core spanning the river (complementing the existing Public Transport Box) which is served by high quality public transport to connect to both the HS2 station and South Bank to the rest of the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods.

9. Improve resilience & sustainability

Innovative ideas to mitigate the potential implications of floods, including potential flood channels.

10. Utilise culture to help placemaking

Culture to be celebrated and an integral part of the approach to placemaking in the South Bank.

Wrapping up

South Bank Leeds it a staggering regeneration project; it is a truly unique project to revolutionise such a large segment of a city.

This year the ambition of the South Bank project has been recognised by being shortlisted for the 2020 Urbanism ‘The Great Neighbourhood’ Award, celebrating the best neighbourhood environments in Europe. We think that this is one of Europe’s most significant regeneration projects and is a clear winner. There’s no doubt that Leeds’ identity is being reimagined for the 21st century, but we’re also excited that the industrial heritage of the city is being retained throughout these changes.

Doubling the economic impact of Leeds city-centre will further cement the city as a major player in the UK’s economy.

At Aspen Woolf we have a number of developments in Leeds – the number 1 forecast city in the UK for house price and rental growth. You can see our projects here.

Which UK cities are seeing the highest house price growth rates?

There’s a new kind of north/south divide in the UK.

Property growth in the main southern cities is seeing the poorest rates in seven years, whereas in the North prices have been steadily rising, according to the Zoopla and Hometrack house price index. In this article where going to look at the data to see which cities are seeing the best house price growth. We’ll talk about why this is happening too.

House Price Growth – The North South Divide

For the top 20 UK cities, the average house price over the last year, August to August, is 1.9% higher than it has been in the previous year. Northern Cities have seen growth of 3.5% on average, which is a huge contrast from the 0.3% growth from the southern cities. London, for example, has seen only 0.2% growth on the previous year.

As the index compares a selected 20 cities, it’s worth noting that those representing cities representing the North are Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield. The South, on the other hand, is represented by London, Bournemouth, Oxford, Cambridge, Portsmouth and Southampton. The index also compares UK city growth to a wider UK national average, in this case 2.4%. See the table below for a full breakdown.

House Price Growth – the Index

City Current average price % change year-on-year Aug-19 % change year-on-year Aug-18
Leicester £182,900 4.8% 6.0%
Liverpool £124,700 4.6% 4.6%
Manchester £173,000 4.5% 5.0%
Cardiff £211,800 4.1% 3.9%
Edinburgh £235,400 4.0% 7.1%
Birmingham £168,300 3.8% 5.5%
Belfast £136,400 3.6% 3.6%
Leeds £168,900 3.5% 3.2%
Glasgow £127,000 3.3% 5.3%
Nottingham £155,300 3.1% 5.2%
Sheffield £139,600 2.8% 4.3%
Bristol £283,000 2.2% 2.4%
Newcastle £128,900 2.0% 1.1%
Bournemouth £293,600 1.3% 3.9%
Southampton £228,300 0.5% 1.6%
Cambridge £429,500 0.3% -1.5%
London £483,800 0.2% -0.8%
Portsmouth £237,800 0.0% 2.7%
Oxford £409,100 -0.4% 2.3%
Aberdeen £158,800 -4.0% -4.3%
20 city index £257,900 1.9% 1.6%
UK £220,700 2.1% 2.5%

Source: Zoopla House Price Index, powered by Hometrack

House Price Growth – Why is the North making gains on the South?

Here at Aspen Woolf, we have offered investors property all over the UK (and the world too). In recent years, however, we’ve heavily focused on Northern England because we have spotted the investment potential in these areas.

Low prices

There are a few factors which contribute to this judgement. A key one of these is the comparatively low house prices in the Northern cities.  In fact, using the table above we can see the radical differences in average house prices. The average paid for the Northern cities listed above is £147,020, compared to £347,016. That represents a huge difference of £199,996. It’s simply better value for money in the North.

Good Rental Yields

Another key reason is rental yields. Some of the best buy-to-let rental postcodes can be found in Northern cities. According to Totallymoney’s best BTL postcode ranking, 13 of the 25 listed are in Northern England specifically – six of these alone are in Liverpool, with L1 taking the top spot. Let’s compare that to the South – not a single one is in the south of England. Interestingly, in the listing of the worst 10 BTL postcodes in the UK, Southern English postcodes make up eight of them!

Investment Plans

You’ve probably heard the term ‘Northern Powerhouse’ thrown around over the last few years, originally coming from now ex-Chancellor George Osbourne. In brief, the initiative is designed to boost local economies in the North (especially the core cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle) by investing in skills, innovation, transport and culture, as well as devolving significant powers to these local authorities.

The specifics of the Northern Powerhouse can be broken down into Infrastructure, Business Environment, Ideas and People. Each category contains a set of projects spread across northern regions to grow local economies – from better connected transport routes to Media Villages, Apprenticeship Schemes and many more things.

There are many more investment initiatives that do not necessarily fall into the Northern Powerhouse scheme, but will nonetheless add millions, if not billions, to the economic outputs of Northern cities and towns. Consider, for example, the Leeds Southbank Regeneration project – designed to double the size of Leeds city centre, creating 35,000 new jobs and 8,000 new homes. Or one of the largest town centre regeneration projects ever, the Bolton Masterplan – worth an incredible £1.2 billion, and aiming to create 2000 new homes and 7,400 jobs.

What does this mean? It means that these Northern cities and towns are undergoing a transformation, introducing new jobs, raising the quality of office, public and residential spaces and buildings, and growing economically. House prices will continue to rise as these regeneration and development initiatives come to fruition.

All in all, at Aspen Woolf we think it’s an exciting time to be investing in Northern England. Not only that, but we believe that the Northern regions will remain hot investment propositions for some time.

 

We have a range of investment options available in Northern England. Browse out properties here.

Channel 4’s new HQ is coming to Leeds

Did you know Channel 4 are moving a huge segment of their operations to Leeds? The new Channel 4 national HQ is due to open its doors in the Majestic Building in early 2020.

The move comes as part of Channel 4’s ‘4 All the UK’ strategy, designed to attract and develop talent from across the UK and support the increased spend on ‘Nations & Regions’ creative content, moving from 35% to 50% of main Channel 4 commissions by 2023.

The national HQ will contain the new Digital Creative Unit – a new department created for commissioning and producing content to engage with audiences on digital platforms, especially with a focus on young creators.

Commissioning departments will include: Comedy, Daytime, Drama, Entertainment & Live Events, E4, Factual, Popular Factual and Sport. Other departments present in the Leeds office include On-Air Continuity, Pictures, and digital roles for 4Creative and All 4.

Additionally, when it comes to business support, the Leeds office will be home to Audience Research & Insight, Business Affairs, Corporate Relations, Data Science, Finance, Human Resources, Information & Archives, Press & Publicity, Production Finance, Systems Delivery, Technology, and Workspace departments.

With a major new workforce relocation like this comes an equally big recruitment drive. Positions in many areas of broadcasting are waiting to be filled, including research executives, analysts, listing editors, data engineers and scientists, programme information editors, human resources advisor and information security roles, and many more. The total number of jobs available in Leeds as a result of this relocation number around 200.

In an interesting bid to lure some of the company’s talent from the old London HQ to Leeds, Channel 4 are offering many incentives to staff, including several hundred pound travel grants for those wanting to investigate their potential new homes and extra annual leave for those hat do move. Channel 4 are also offering to cover the cost of homebuyer fees, legal fees, stamp duty, mortgage redemption fees and removal fees as a way to entice workers. Staff can also claim the cost of temporary accommodation while they look for a new home after transferring to Leeds. Clearly, this is fantastic news for workers who are looking to open a new chapter of their lives in Leeds – it could be the cheapest move of their lives.

What does all this say about Leeds? It’s extremely encouraging that Leeds won the bid for Channel 4’s new HQ, and signifies just how far the Yorkshire City has come as a centre for both culture and business. As investment pours into the city, this is just the start of bigger things for an ever expanding city.

At Aspen Woolf, we have a range of investments in Leeds – one of our most popular locations. You can find out more about investment opportunities here.

Image (c) Campaign Live, October 2019

Bradford is bidding to become UK City of Culture 2025!

The West Yorkshire city of Bradford is due to spend £1.4 million on a bid to become the UK’s City of Culture in 2025. A number of the city’s key cultural institutions have come together to form the Cultural Place Partnership which will drive the bid forwards as they contest against the likes of Chelmsford, Luton, Medway, Northampton, Southampton and Tees Valley. Organisations making up the Cultural Place Partnership include Bradford-based live arts company, The Brick Box; the University of Bradford; Bradford College, and a number of local and national funders.

What is the UK City of Culture?

In 2008 Liverpool was chosen as the European Capital of Culture, an accolade which brought the city a solid boost in revenue and a number of social benefits. The UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport realised the benefits of celebrating UK cities for their culture as a means of celebration and regeneration. A panel was chaired by producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, that decided on the format and remit of the awards, concluding that that the accolade would be granted to a new city every four years, and major events to be held in the winning city would be decided on a case-by-case basis. Previous winners have included Derry-Londonderry, Hull and Coventry for 2021. These cities have often secured large sums of investment and seen increased culture-led regeneration on the back of the UK City of Culture Award. The estimated value of the award in increased revenue is £350 million.

 

Why can Bradford become UK City of Culture 2025?

With a long history and a famously varied ethnic diversity, culture, in many guises, has naturally embedded itself in Bradford’s way of life. Kala Sangam, for example is a leading multi and intercultural arts initiative that delivers a varied programme featuring south Asian and collaborative arts.

Bradford is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, thanks to its rich film history, exceptional filming locations and dedication to the medium through events and festivals – not to mention, Bradford is the location of the National Science and Media museum.

The cultural pedigree of Bradford reaches far back, with notable figures in the arts emerging from the area such as the Bronte Sisters, playwright JB Priestly, artist David Hockney, Jazz Musician Allan Holdsworth and many many more.

Even with this very strong cultural identity, engagement in the arts has been unfortunately low. However, the city has been working hard to remedy this by incorporating new structures to benefit emerging artists and groups, with success in this area seen by the emergence of a number of new voices, from England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap, to the Bradford Literature Festival and many more diverse practitioners and organisations.

It’s interesting to note that Bradford is the UK’s 6th largest city, and twice the size of Hull which was the UK City of Culture in 2017.

Bradford’s bid forms part of its overall Economic Strategy, which aims to make Bradford the UK’s fastest growing economy over the coming decade, increasing the value of the economy by £4 billion.

Winning the bid would be massive for Bradford; such a strong cultural heritage and commitment to the arts means the city’s bid is very strong indeed.

The West Yorkshire city of Bradford is due to spend £1.4 million on a bid to become the UK’s City of Culture in 2025. A number of the city’s key cultural institutions have come together to form the Cultural Place Partnership which will drive the bid forwards as they contest against the likes of Chelmsford, Luton, Medway, Northampton, Southampton and Tees Valley. Organisations making up the Cultural Place Partnership include Bradford-based live arts company, The Brick Box; the University of Bradford; Bradford College, and a number of local and national funders.

What is the UK City of Culture?

In 2008 Liverpool was chosen as the European Capital of Culture, an accolade which brought the city a solid boost in revenue and a number of social benefits. The UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport realised the benefits of celebrating UK cities for their culture as a means of celebration and regeneration. A panel was chaired by producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, that decided on the format and remit of the awards, concluding that that the accolade would be granted to a new city every four years, and major events to be held in the winning city would be decided on a case-by-case basis. Previous winners have included Derry-Londonderry, Hull and Coventry for 2021. These cities have often secured large sums of investment and seen increased culture-led regeneration on the back of the UK City of Culture Award. The estimated value of the award in increased revenue is £350 million.

 

Why can Bradford become UK City of Culture 2025?

With a long history and a famously varied ethnic diversity, culture, in many guises, has naturally embedded itself in Bradford’s way of life. Kala Sangam, for example is a leading multi and intercultural arts initiative that delivers a varied programme featuring south Asian and collaborative arts.

Bradford is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, thanks to its rich film history, exceptional filming locations and dedication to the medium through events and festivals – not to mention, Bradford is the location of the National Science and Media museum.

The cultural pedigree of Bradford reaches far back, with notable figures in the arts emerging from the area such as the Bronte Sisters, playwright JB Priestly, artist David Hockney, Jazz Musician Allan Holdsworth and many many more.

Even with this very strong cultural identity, engagement in the arts has been unfortunately low. However, the city has been working hard to remedy this by incorporating new structures to benefit emerging artists and groups, with success in this area seen by the emergence of a number of new voices, from England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap, to the Bradford Literature Festival and many more diverse practitioners and organisations.

It’s interesting to note that Bradford is the UK’s 6th largest city, and twice the size of Hull which was the UK City of Culture in 2017.

Bradford’s bid forms part of its overall Economic Strategy, which aims to make Bradford the UK’s fastest growing economy over the coming decade, increasing the value of the economy by £4 billion.

Winning the bid would be massive for Bradford; such a strong cultural heritage and commitment to the arts means the city’s bid is very strong indeed.

 

 

Here at Aspen Woolf we have a range of investment opportunities all over the UK. To learn more about Bradford investments click here.

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019?

leeds town hall

It’s widely known that Leeds represents one of the best, if not the best (as we’ll see later), places to invest in UK property in 2019.

Considered the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area, Leeds is a thriving modern city, central to the economy of northern England and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative. In this guide we’re going to look at why people choose to invest in Leeds now, and what measures are being taken to make sure the city maintains its place among the biggest powers in the UK economy.

Invest in Leeds: The economy
Invest in Leeds: Regeneration and Investment
Invest in Leeds: The Property Market
Invest in Leeds Life and Culture

Leeds at a glance

Situated in the middle of the United Kingdom, though distinctly in the North of England, Leeds is the 3rd largest city in the UK by area and the one of the biggest by population – 789,194.

Residents find themselves living in a vibrant, youthful city with a strong identity. An industrial and artistic history is mirrored in the many cultural highlights the city has on offer, from museums and galleries to opera, theatre, local ruins and much, much more. One of Leeds’ biggest attractions among visitors and residents alike is its location in the stunning county of Yorkshire. This means that the urban centre of Leeds is surrounded by a wealth of countryside dotted with stately homes, villages and even the Roman city of York.

With that little picture of a prosperous and characterful city painted, let’s now have a closer look at why investors choose to invest in Leeds’ property.

 

Why invest in Leeds Property? A burgeoning economy

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why invest in Leeds? A burgeoning economy

 

With a focus in the financial services, legal, manufacturing, health and retail sectors, Leeds is a force to be reckoned with, having the fastest growing economy in the UK, now worth £64.6 billion and predicted to grow by 21% over the next 10 years.

Leeds has the third largest jobs total going by local authority area, at a total of 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015, and also had the highest increase in employment rate of any core city from 2009 – 2017.

There are more than 32,000 VAT-registered businesses and more than 6,000 small and medium-size enterprises in Leeds, and the amount of mid-size and companies and organisations is way above the national average.

For ‘scale-up’ companies – defined as those which achieve 20% growth year on year for three years (in revenue or employees), Leeds is only behind London and Cambridge.

In terms of foreign investment in the last year (2018-2019), Leeds is the fourth best performing in the UK, with an 11% rise in new projects, compared to an average 10% drop among cities outside of the UK.

Leeds itself falls in to the Leeds City Region, an area encompassing the city itself and neighboring districts. It’s certainly interesting to note that this region is the largest contributor to GDP in the Northern Powerhouse and the largest regional economy outside of the capital, with a combined workforce of more than 1.4 million. Even more impressive is that if the North of England was its own country it would be the 21st largest economy in the world.

 

Why invest in Leeds Property? Investment and regeneration

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why Invest in Leeds? Investment and Regeneration

 

As we’ve just seen, Leeds’ economy is at present an outstanding force in the UK’s output. This is set to get bigger and better with a series of investment and regeneration projects, designed to cement the city and region as top performing economy.

In 2014 Leeds City Region signed the country’s largest Growth Deal worth over £1 billion, and aiming to bring an estimated 8,000 jobs, up to 1,000 homes and at least £340 million investment into the Leeds City Region economy over the following 7 years. The Leeds City Region Strategic Economic Plan aims to take that even further by creating more than 35,000 jobs and £3.7 billion of annual economic output by 2036.

 

The Northern Powerhouse

All of these major plans come under the umbrella of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ – a Government strategy to redress the balance between the economies of the North and the South by revolutionising the North’s industrial output. This will be done through investing in key barriers to growth, such as infrastructure, transport, and education.

The ‘Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review’ predicts an additional 850,000 jobs in Northern England by 2050, and marks out digital, health innovation, energy and advanced manufacturing as the primary areas for growth. Financial and professional services, education and logistics are identified as supporting capabilities and will help boost the North’s output by £97 billion.

We are already moving out the first phase of the plan which has been aimed at devolving power to the 11 regional authorities that make up the Northern Powerhouse. Phase 2 is about putting devolved power into action, focusing on improving Skills and employment; Enterprise, innovation and industrial strategy; Trade and investment; and housing.

What does this mean for Leeds? Greater devolved power and a focus on growth creation within the area.

 

Transport

A major aspect of the Northern Powerhouse strategy is the effort to revitalise connectivity in the area by re-engineering the transport infrastructure and creating new routes. There are two huge projects underway to do just this: Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed Rail 2. Importantly it’s not just the individual projects which will bring growth to Leeds and the Northern Regions, but it’s the interconnection between the two which really matters – in short NPR offers more and better connections throughout the north and HS2 creates better connections from the north to the south. Joined together, this means that areas of the north previously poorly connected are now able to access the south and other areas.

We’ve previously written an article explaining the differences between these two initiatives that you can read here. The main takeaway is that major economic growth will be unlocked from creating these better connections. As an example Leeds region predicts that HS2 will lead to about 40,000 new jobs and a £54 billion boost to the regional economy by 2050.

 

Doubling the size of the city centre

Office take-up in Leeds has passed the 1m sq ft mark in 2017 – more than twice the amount the 2016 figures and 88% ahead of the 10-year annual average for the city. Clearly, to allow for economic growth the city needs to grow physically too.

Leeds’ regeneration plans focus on 7 key districts:

  • The Innovation District – Proposals for £1bn investment in areas of enterprise and research.
  • Mabgate – Focus on independent business, food and beverage and residential growth.
  • The Cultural District – Includes a £14 million investment in the West Yorkshire Playhouse, as well as new residential, office and leisure space.
  • The Retail District – Leeds is already the third largest shopping destination in the UK, but further invest in Victoria Gate will see the city expand even further in this regard.
  • East Side – 2,000 new homes to be built by 2028.
  • West End – The new Government Hub is to accommodate 6,000 civil service workers.
  • South Bank – Doubles the size of the city centre and regenerates no longer used industrial space.

For the purposes of this article we’re going to focus on the biggest one of these: the incredible South Bank project aimed at creating over 35,000 jobs and over 8,000 new homes.

 

A case study: Leeds South Bank

South Bank Leeds is an area of 253 hectares situated just south of the River Aire, and the scene of a huge development project intended to regenerate the space and recast the identity of the entire city.

The area is the size of 350 football pitches and will be transformed into a ‘globally distinctive’ destination for living, learning, creativity, leisure and investment. According to the South Bank Leeds Regeneration Framework Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), there will be more than 8,000 new homes and 35,000 new jobs as part of this landmark regeneration project.

South Bank Leeds has long been home to multinational companies, including ASDA Walmart’s European headquarters and SKY. There are also more than 3,000 people currently living in the area, and a sector comprising more than 250 businesses – but now the area will become even more prosperous thanks to over £500m of announced investment which includes:

  • The acquisition of the Holbeck Portfolio Sites by the Commercial Estate Group, along with major proposals for a mixed-use development at this key strategic location
  • Work to repair Hunslet Mill and Victoria Works progressing on site
  • Vastint’s mixed use development proposals for the 22 acre Tetley Brewery Site including a City Park, their second investment in the UK and the first outside London
  • Planning permission granted for over 1,000 new homes at Tower Works, Iron Works and Dandara with an increase in applications for 3 bedroom plus units
  • City’s proposals for a £125m Climate Innovation District
  • A further phase of development for Leeds College of Building in the area.
  • The new HS2 station will be combined with Leeds train station and is set to welcome more passengers than Gatwick airport.

 

This landmark development also seeks to create a link from the past to the present.  This once industrial place boasted a strong, enduring sense of community, especially in the Holbeck area. The South Bank Leeds project aims to reconnect these historic suburbs with Leeds City Centre once again, adapting these old buildings and giving them a new life in the 21st century.

At the heart of the development, a brand-new skyscraper will transform the city’s skyline. Forty storeys high and 142 metres tall, it will take the mantel of tallest building in Leeds from Bridgewater Place.

Plans have also been submitted to build 928 new residential properties in a sub-project called X1. The houses will be built on the old Evans Halshaw site off the A61, at a cost of more than £200 million. Comprising five separate buildings, each equipped with individual gyms and gardens, the development will also boast cafes, restaurants, offices and shops.

City living will be more in demand than ever, thanks to various developments within the South Bank Leeds area. For example, Arthur’s Fold boasts 101 brand-new apartments, with a mix of high-spec one and two bedroom units. It also has the added extras that are a prerequisite for urban living – a gym, lounge and cinema for residents. Prices for the apartments start at £122,500, a clear indication of the sheer value for money investors can expect.

 

Why invest in Leeds Property? The Property Market

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why invest in Leeds? The Property Market

 

Of course none of the above guarantees a property market worth investing in. London, for example, is a dubious proposition for property investors in spite of its enormous economy and local wealth – prices are high and yields are low. Would be investors need to ask how Leeds compares to other areas. The answer? Extremely favourably.

Leeds is rated as the number one forecast for residential price and rental growth in the UK by the independent property advisors JLL, with an expected growth of 16% by 2023 – overtaking Manchester after several years. The report claims that low prices combined with a ‘fundamental lack of new development in the city centre since the financial crisis’ means that value is forecast to grow 1.1% above the UK average and rental growth to increase by 0.8% above average.

JLL go on to identify 29 sites that would be able to deliver over 10,000 apartments – doubling the existing number of units in the city centre. Only 45% of these developments have obtained planning permission meaning delivery will be at a steady rate over years, reducing over-supply. All in all demand in the city is extremely strong thanks to the shortage of supply. The average house price in Leeds is £204,766, that’s £15,234 below the national average, meaning Leeds presently offers excellent value for money.

It’s worth mentioning here that Leeds’ population to grow by 6% to reach 826,000 by 2026, which between the years 2016-2026 is 1.8% above the national average. That’s 47,000 people who will need to be accommodated.

 

Why invest in Leeds Property? Life and Culture

Why invest in Leeds Property in 2019? Aspen Woolf

Why Invest in Leeds? Life and Culture

 

Contemporary Culture

Although Leeds has a noted and fascinating past as an historic wool mill town, these days it is more widely known for its modern cultural attributes, although many museums and exhibits honour the city’s industrial past.

Over time, Leeds has become well known for its talented artists, with the likes of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Kenneth Armitage and Damien Hirst having studied at the Leeds Arts College. Consequently, there’s plenty of art galleries and museums to visit, ranging from modern to classical art and everything in between.

The city also hosts the Leeds International Film Festival, England’s largest film festival outside London. 40,000 eager cinema-goers view over 300 shorts and feature-length films over the course of the festival, with the winning short films eligible to enter the industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony, the Academy Awards.

Leeds is heavily invested in its cultural footprint, and has designed the Leeds Cultural Strategy 2017-2030. There are many objectives to this strategy, but the main focus is for the city to value and prioritise cultural activity such that Leeds will become nationally and internationally recognised as a thriving, internationally connected cultural hub. Leeds will be at the forefront of cultural innovation, and the strategy intends to grow the cultural sector to increase its contribution to the local economy.

Long term cultural commitment and a strong additional reason why investors should consider investment in Leeds – this kind of plan ensures the city remains an attractive place to live and visit, and becomes more and more notable in the scope of UK culture.

 

Retail

Leeds has become the principal shopping centre for the entire Yorkshire and the Humber region. This is thanks, in part, to the many indoor shopping centres within the city, including St John’s Centre, the Merrion Centre, The Core, The Light, the Victoria Quarter, Trinity Leeds and the Corn Exchange. These centres feature a combined floor-space of 2,264,100 square feet (210,340 m2), that houses over 1,000 retail stores.

But not content with the proliferation of shopping malls, the city has a large pedestrian zone where many UK and global high street brands can be found. Briggate is the main street where the likes of House of Fraser, Debenhams, Harvey Nichols and Marks & Spencer can be found. If you’re looking for something a little more high-end, head to the Victoria Quarter. Luxury retailers including Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood and Louis Vuitton make themselves at home in this area, amongst some truly incredible architecture.

Not only is this attractive to tourists but a strong retail centre means that residents can feel secure in the knowledge they have all their potential shopping options on the doorstep.

 

Wrapping up

So why invest in Leeds? As we’ve seen, Leeds is the number 1 location for value growth and rental growth, and is well below the average in terms of price. If this isn’t enough to entice investors, the huge regeneration project aimed at doubling the size of the city centre is an extraordinary and attractive aspect of the Leeds’ future. HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail only further represent the city’s growth potential. There is very little doubt that Leeds will go from strength to strength and reaffirm itself as the major city in the Northern Powerhouse.