If you’re reading this you’re probably aware that property can be a great investment vehicle, bringing diversification to an investment portfolio, providing a stable income and shielding money from inflation. Even if you know all of this, you are going to be faced with one looming question: Where do I invest?
While many investors opt for investing in their local area, those with a little more ambition recognise the importance of investigating all of the options, whether they are near or far from home.
In this guide, we’re going to explore one of the most exciting parts of the United Kingdom for investors. We’re going to tell you the best reasons for investing in Bradford.
Bradford at a glance
Situated in the foothills of the Pennines, Bradford is part of the United Kingdom’s fourth largest urban area – the West Yorkshire Urban Area – and has a population of over 530,000. The city enjoys an excellent location just 16 miles from Leeds, and possesses extremely good links to the rest of the major northern cities, as well as easy access to the M1 motorway.
Steeped in heritage and culture, Bradford offers residents a selection of architectural delights, from the old industrial quarter of Little Germany to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire – a wonderfully preserved Victorian village. Bradford is also the first ever UNESCO City of Film in the world, proving this city not only has a cultural past, but a cultural future too.
Many people relocate to Bradford because of the ease at which it’s possible to escape to some of the most spectacular countryside in Britain. The northern tip of the world famous Peak District National Park is only a 40 minute drive away and the Yorkshire Dales National Park can be accessed in around about the same time as well.
Clearly there is an appeal to this West Yorkshire post-industrial town, but with all that said, let’s gets down business on why you should invest in Bradford.
Bradford’s economy is one of the strongest in the region. Valued at £9.5bn, it is the eighth largest in England and the third largest in the Yorkshire region after Leeds and Sheffield. This figure is proof that a city once struggling after the de-industrialisation of the north is now bouncing back to take its place as one of the major players in what many have dubbed the “Northern Powerhouse.” By next year, Bradford’s economy is expected to have grown by around 25% over the previous decade and will contribute 15.4% of the total growth within the Leeds City Region.
As of 2018, Bradford was home to 15,430 enterprises and 18,060 local units, employing 185,500 people, added to which there are more than 32,000 self-employed individuals.
The city’s own plan is to focus on four areas of development to encourage Bradford to become the fastest growing economy in the UK:
- Education and skills development for young people
- Using cultural assets to attract investment
- Building on our business to drive innovation, increase productivity and create wealth.
- Improving connectivity through a comprehensive transport infrastructure and digital connection
These initiatives are aiming to increase the value of the local economy by £4 billion, moving 20,000 more people into work and improving the skills of 48,000 residents.
One of the key drivers in Bradford’s resurfacing from its industrial past is its growing appeal to financial companies such as Santander UK, Yorkshire Building Society and Provident Financial, with the latter being one of Bradford’s biggest employers. Household names like Morrisons and the region’s water utility, Yorkshire Water, have head offices in the city as well as Hallmark Cards and Seabrook Potato Crisps.
Thanks to being recognised by UNESCO twice and its ever growing mark on the British cultural landscape, Bradford’s economy also benefits tremendously from the tourist industry. Around 9.2 million people come to Bradford each year, and as the city’s reputation grows, so too will the visitor numbers and the city’s tourist economy. At present, 91 per cent of all visitors are domestic, but this figure could change as the city’s reputation spreads across the wider world.
All in all, if you’re interested in the economy of where you’re investing, and let’s face it, you ought to be, then this should attract your attention. The local economy is one of the best reasons to invest in Bradford.
Regeneration and investment in Bradford
When we wrote about regeneration in this article back in 2016 we spoke about how over £500 million was invested in the city centre with an additional £200 million being placed into the wider district. Additionally the Westfield shopping and leisure complex called The Broadway introduced eighty-two new stores to fill the 570,000 sq ft of retail space and over create over 2,000 jobs.
Now in 2019 we can talk about a £75 million investment to attract the so called ‘urban entrepreneurs’ of the future. Here’s a breakdown of the projects:
- £12m on redeveloping the Odeon cinema.
- £9.4m relocation of Bradford’s markets
- £3m Top of Town redevelopment scheme
- £8.9m restoration of St George’s Hall
- £25.3m on the One City Park site to create grade A office space
The £3m Top of Town redevelopment mentioned above is of particular interest, being a sustainable development of a ‘city village’, comprised of around 1,000 new homes.
All of this regeneration and the efforts to bring Bradford in line with the Northern Powerhouse initiative has prompted some to compare the city to London’s tech and business district, Shoreditch. Whatever the end result of all the investment capital flooding into the area, Bradford is set reach never before seen levels of economic output.
HS2 and Bradford’s transportation links
Transportation in Bradford is massive, all thanks to not one but two major projects you may have heard of: HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. If you’re reading this from outside the UK you might not be aware of the much anticipated High Speed Rail 2 network (HS2) which is presently under construction and will connect 25 stations and 30 million people across the country. The core of HS2’s missions is to increase connectivity from Northern and midland towns and cities to London and the south while slashing journey times. Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) is an initiative to create better connections between the major Northern cities. The combination of the two projects means that Bradford will be more connected than ever before. The city is due to be part of the NPR project which will connect it to those stations on the HS2 line.
These rail projects set to drive growth in the UK by an estimated £92 billion, with Bradford receiving a boost of a massive £15 billion by 2060. It should go without saying that connectivity generates wealth, and the knock on effect of this is an increase in house prices. We will come on to house prices a little further on in this Guide, but whilst we’re talking about HS2 and NPR we’ll mention what has been dubbed the “HS2 effect“: booming house prices for all areas around the HS2 stations. We expect the cities on the NPR to benefit from a similar phenomenon given the link between the two lines.
Aside from the excitement of HS2 and NPR, Bradford has all of the standard transportation links that one would expect from a city of its size, and enjoys good connections with the other major northern cities in the region. Neighbouring Leeds provides Bradford with the closest international airport (just six miles to the east), and Manchester Airport is only an hour’s drive away, which gives residents easy access to the country’s third largest airport.
Bradford is also well served by the road network with the M606 spur connecting to the M62. This means that entry on to the M1 is straightforward and provides those who wish to travel either south or north an easy way to do so. The M62 itself, which runs to the south of Bradford, links the city to Hull and Leeds in the east and Liverpool and Manchester in the west. Bradford is also served by a number of trunk roads, giving access to local towns and cities such as Queensbury, Wakefield, Halifax, Harrogate, Leeds and Keighley.
The city has two main railway stations, the Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square. Bradford Interchange combines rail, bus and coach services and has a passenger footfall just short of 3 million people per annum. The station operates regular services locally and also links the city to London’s King’s Cross station. Bradford Forster Square – a mere 10-minute walk away from the Interchange – also connects with London’s King’s Cross.
As with the majority of British towns and cities, Bradford is served by several different bus companies, including First Group and Arriva.
Local life in Bradford
As we have already seen in our guide, Bradford has plenty going for it in terms of culture, countryside and connectivity. Here we’ll explore the local environment in a little more depth.
Bradford forms part of one of Lonely Planet’s top regions in the world. Yorkshire was named in the Best in Travel Guide 2014, and it’s easy to see why the county received such an accolade once you visit. Bradford was cited as being one of the key reasons why Yorkshire was placed in the top three spots in the guide, and its UNESCO City of Film status further cements the city’s reputation as a must-visit region of the British Isles.
The city has a long and rich history and the local architecture reflects this in certain areas, especially the ever popular Little Germany. This part of Bradford is full of wonderful Victorian buildings and named after the German merchants who came to the city in the late 1850s. Another UNESCO recognised part of Bradford is Saltaire, a World Heritage Site model village that also boasts incredible architecture and a wealth of independent restaurants and shops. Salt Mills also sits within the site, home to one of the greatest collections of work by the artist David Hockney.
With a mix of families, cosmopolitan workers and university students, a population of over 530,000 call Bradford home. In fact the city houses the youngest population in the UK outside of London, creating a demand for student accommodation and homes for young professionals. Bradford is certainly a vibrant hub for younger people, providing an array of nightlife, as well as cultural and social experiences.
Those who enjoy a little retail therapy are spoilt for choice thanks to the brand-new Westfield Broadway shopping centre. The £260 million mall brings a whole host of retailers to the city and adds to the already existing Kirkgate Centre, Oastler Shopping Centre and Forster Square Shopping Park. The city also has one of the grandest book stores you will ever see. Bradford’s Waterstones is located inside the old Victorian Gothic Wool Exchange building and is well worth a visit even if you have no intention of buying yourself a paperback or two.
Food and drink offerings are as plentiful too. Dubbed the Curry Capital of Britain, Bradford naturally has a wealth of Asian eateries, but the range of cuisines on offer doesn’t stop there. Every taste is catered for, and the local craft beer scene is blossoming into something that could well become an attraction in its own right, with the region currently home to 96 microbreweries – the highest concentration in the country!
Bradford also has an excellent array of nocturnal pleasures for its local night owls. Live music can be found at places such as The Live Room and Disco Joe’s. As with any other British city, pubs and clubs are easily found and there are also plenty of upmarket bars on offer too. Naturally, for a UNESCO City of Film, cinema features heavily here and theatre, too, is well represented.
With one of the north’s premier theatre venues, the stunning Alhambra Theatre, the city also plays host to a range of theatre and live performances. From touring West End shows to comedy gigs, and ballet to music concerts. There is also a range of art galleries and museums in the area too for those that like the slower paced cultural activities.
House prices and yields
Bradford’s Little Germany postcode is even one of the UK’s top 10 destinations for buy-to-let and currently offers yields of over 9% – the third best in the UK.
Additionally, house prices are some of the least expensive in the country, priced at 5.6 times the national average salary, compared to 7 times for the national average house prices.
With the growing development of the Northern Powerhouse, the city looks set for a continued period of growth, making now a great time to consider investing in Bradford.
So why invest in Bradford?
We believe that Bradford is one of the most upcoming areas in the United Kingdom, and the work that is being done by both the local government and outside investors reflects our sentiments. We have already gone over the regeneration projects in operation throughout the city and believe that all of these initiatives will stand Bradford in good stead as we move towards 2020.
Property prices are extremely attractive in the city, with averages working out to be much lower than other parts of the UK. This presents investors with a unique opportunity to take advantage of some extraordinarily good deals in the area, generating rental yields of up to 9%.
The arrival of HS2 is nothing short of revolutionary for Bradford, and by creating a network that connects major locations in the UK will bring Bradford in line with the other Northern Powerhouse cities.
The city’s close proximity to Leeds is also of benefit to anyone looking to invest in property, as Bradford is now being viewed as a viable alternative for those who need to commute into the neighbouring city’s fast expanding financial district. These young professionals will also take heart from the fact that Bradford has some great schools and an abundance of amazing countryside right on their doorstep.
It’s certainly worth remembering that the population is the youngest in the country as large proportion are residents and young professionals. As we discussed earlier, this creates a demand ready for investors to capitalise on.
So, if you are looking to move into the property market, we strongly advise you to do nothing until you have explored all that Bradford has to offer. This is a British city that is still offering fantastic value to anyone who wishes to either begin or expand their own property portfolio.
Here at Aspen Woolf, we have a choice of properties ready for your investment. Why not have a look at our Bradford options.