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 a city in one of the most exciting regions of the United Kingdom – a region expected by experts Savills to see 21.6% capital growth over the next 5 years. We’re going to tell you the best reasons for investing in the Yorkshire city of Bradford.
Bradford at a glance
Situated in the foothills of the Pennines, Bradford forms part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area, the United Kingdom’s fourth largest urban area – and contains a population of over 530,000. The city enjoys a 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 for residents, but with all that said, let’s gets down business on why investors should choose 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.” This year, Bradford’s economy is expected to have grown by around 25% over the last 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, the 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.
Partially thanks to being recognised by UNESCO twice, as well as developing a growing imprint on the British cultural landscape, Bradford’s economy also benefits largely 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 then this information 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 a guide about investing in Bradford 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 2020 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 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 a big deal, thanks to 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). This extremely expensive infrastructure project (estimated at £307m per mile), was confirmed to go ahead in full in February this year, and will connect 25 stations and 30 million people across the country.
The core of HS2’s mission 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 a separate initiative running across northern England (rather than north to south) to create better connections between the major cities in the north. 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 are set to drive growth in the UK by an estimated £92 billion, with Bradford receiving a boost of £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 while 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 a local 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. Entry to the M1 is straightforward and provides those who wish to travel south or north an easy way to do so. The M62 itself, which runs to the south of the city, creates a link 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.
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.
Life in Bradford
When investing in property you want to make sure you are putting your money into an area that people want to live in. Culture, infrastructure and amenities attract residents and provide a high quality of living. Bradford offers all of this, and has been recognised for doing so. A recent study by top accountancy firm PWC and leading cross party think tank Demos has named Bradford as the most improved city in the UK.
PWC’s Good Growth for Cities report aims to create an index for good growth in the UK by taking into account a range of factors considered important to the general public, including jobs, income, skills and health were most important factors in the eyes of the public, alongside housing, transport, income distribution, work-life balance, business start-ups and the environment.
Now covering over a decade of data, the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index measures the performance of a range of the largest UK cities, as well as Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas and Combined Authorities in England, against a basket of ten indicators based on what the public find most important when they think about the ‘work and money’ side of their lives.
Of the 42 cities listed in the index, Bradford comes top when ranked in terms of most improved. This is especially impressive considering that this year’s report has seen a higher number of cities’ scores decline when compared to previous years.
Moving on to history and culture, Bradford has a long and rich past reflected in the architecture, especially in the ever popular Little Germany area. 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. As mentioned earlier, the UNESCO City of Film status further cements the city’s reputation as a culturally important location.
In fact, Bradford’s local government is so confident of the city’s cultural prowess that they have put together a bid to become the UK City of Culture 2025. A number of 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.
The bid forms part of the 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.
With a mix of families, cosmopolitan workers and university students, the population numbers 530,000. The city houses the youngest population in the UK outside of London, creating a demand for student accommodation and homes for young professionals.
Adapting to the demands of a young population, the city is a vibrant hub with a strong of nightlife and cultural and social experiences. 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. There is a range of art galleries and museums in the area too for those that like the slower paced cultural activities.
Opportunities for eating out are 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 becoming an attraction in its own right, with the region currently home to 96 microbreweries – the highest concentration in the country.
Those who enjoy a little retail therapy are spoilt for choice thanks to the Westfield Broadway shopping centre. The £260 million mall brings houses a host of retailers, adding to the existing Kirkgate Centre, Oastler Shopping Centre and Forster Square Shopping Park.
House prices and yields
Bradford offers exceptional value for money with house prices being some of the least expensive in the country – priced at 5.6 times the national average salary, compared to 7 times for the UK average house price. Industry experts Savills name Yorkshire as one of the UK’s top locations for predicted capital growth, forecasting a huge 21.6% uplift in growth over the next five years alone. Investing in Bradford means get in to the investor market at low prices right in time for excellent growth.
Rental yields outperform the national average and in some cases significantly.
The city centre is where you want to invest. The Little Germany postcode, BD1, can attract rental yields of 9.7% which makes it one of the top performing postcodes in the UK. Other BD postcodes yield on average 4.2%.
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 into 2020.
PwC’s naming of Bradford as the UK’s most improved city, combined with the bid to become city of culture for 2025 really goes to show how Bradford is on the up.
Extremely attractive property prices present 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 the Northern Powerhouse Rail and nearby HS2 is nothing short of revolutionary for Bradford, and by creating a network that connects major locations in the UK, Bradford will be brought in line with the other Northern Powerhouse cities.
A close proximity to Leeds is a benefit to anyone looking to invest, 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. Renters looking to settle for the long term will be happy to know there are top quality schools in the area, and some of the UK’s best countryside moments away. It’s certainly worth remembering that the population is the youngest in the country, creating a rental demand ready for investors to capitalise on.
If you are looking to move into the property market, we strongly advise you to explored Bradford. This city is primed to reap the rewards of 21.6% capital growth forecasted for the next 5 years, and offers low entry points to investors.
Here at Aspen Woolf, we have a choice of properties ready for your investment. Why not have a look at our Bradford options.