Property Investment Hotspots 2019

Bradford property investment 2019 aspen woolf

The mantra for 2019 when it comes to property investment seems to be making it Brexit-proof. While we still don’t know the likely outcome and investors may be worried, finding the right regions to put your money into is still as important as ever.

The key factors remain, therefore, when you are seeking a property in England that will give you a strong return. You should be looking at areas which have younger populations, growing job prospects and the prospect of future development. That may mean heading out of London for many investors and looking for bargains in slightly less well-trodden regions that have plenty of potential.

Many of these are currently in the Midlands and in the North West and East. Areas like Bradford, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool are all certainly worth taking a closer look at. Here we take a look at the best property hotspots for the next 12 months.

Bradford

The North of England is increasingly viewed as a profitable area for investment and in many areas, you can get quickly start to build a really strong portfolio. Bradford is a fairly large town that’s ideally placed just a few miles from Leeds, and is cheaper to invest in than its slightly more “upmarket” neighbour. The area, in general, is starting to undergo significant regeneration which is an important marker for investors. Back in 2018 £75 million was committed to a number of city centre regeneration projects (with a masterplan for 2018-21) in order to attract the “urban entrepreneurs” of the future to the city.

There’s plenty of charm when it comes to the existing building stock too, with many properties that are likely to appeal to professionals who want somewhere low cost but attractive to set up home. Much of the beautiful gothic architecture remains, often converted into affordable apartments that could make for an excellent investment. In fact, Aspen Woolf have a number of such opportunities available in beautiful old buildings that are currently being refurbished.

You can still pick up one bedroom flats for between £40,000 and £60,000 if you select the right location and you can find a lower end terrace for around £70,000 in some areas. The town centre is probably your best choice at the moment and while there are some locations you may not want to buy just yet, these are well worth keeping an eye on as development progresses.

Property Investment Hotspots 2019 Aspen Woolf

Liverpool

From the doldrums of the 80s and early 90s, concerted regeneration and business investment have made Liverpool a pretty good choice when it comes to property investment. It’s a city with a fairly strong, younger population under the age of 30 and property prices have increased by around 25% in the last five years. Areas such as the Waterfront and city centre have been transformed over the last two decades and it remains an attractive location for creative industries such as art and music.

There is a growing young, highly professional workforce occupying the city centre and they’re mostly looking for long-term rentals. With a booming economy, it’s a surprise that house prices still remain some of the lowest in the UK. According to Zoopla, the average price of a property in the city is £173,000 with values rising 24.48% in the last five years.

Leeds

Not far from Bradford is Leeds. It’s a thriving university city that has a significant student population and that alone should make it attractive. There’s a fair amount of gentrification going on here but it’s still not too late to get on board and, if you hunt around, there should be some solid investment opportunities to take advantage of that will give strong returns.

For buy to let landlords who want to invest, there are no less than three universities in the city and there are potentially good yields with even with the average semi-detached prices at a shade just over £200,000. According to Right Move, house values have risen 6% in the last year, which is not bad when most people are worrying about a static market. Combine that with a competitive rental market and you have the best of both worlds.

Manchester

Like its near neighbour Liverpool, Manchester is a great location if you are looking to invest in property. With a population of over a half a million, there’s also a large student market looking for somewhere to stay. The city is home to a sizeable professional population who are also searching for high-quality accommodation. It’s a region that hosts major sporting and cultural events, all of which attract people from not only the North West but from far-flung reaches of the globe.

Often tagged as the London of the North, there has been a lot of investment infrastructure, particularly in areas like Salford Quays and it’s now a really cosmopolitan location that has a lot to offer.

The house prices are changing quickly and the Evening Standard reported last year that values had risen by 34% in the last three years. There are still areas where you can pick up a bargain in the city, particularly in the suburbs. The widening gentrification means you can expect decent returns if you get on board at the right time in the right area.  

Property Investment Hotspots 2019 Aspen Woolf

Birmingham

The Midlands have always been a strong area for property investment and it’s no surprise that Birmingham is near the top when it comes to UK hotspots. With a larger population than most other cities outside of London, property prices have grown by nearly 30% over the last five years.

Like Manchester, you’re looking at another fairly young population with a 65,000 strong student population to boot. The key factor is that the students tend to stay on in Birmingham more than other cities which means there is also a growing and sustainable population of new professionals. The potential for growth with the developing HS2 means that Birmingham is less than an hour and a half away from London.

The average house price according to Zoopla is just a shade over £200,000 but heading out to the suburbs can reveal some better deals. Particularly good buy to let hotspots can be found in areas like Edgbaston, Holloway Head and Erdington.

Nottingham

Finally, not far from Birmingham is Nottingham. This is a city that will also benefit from the development of the HS2 rail link and has a thriving, fairly young professional population. There’s a decent student population too but also families looking to rent in many areas of the city. Still relatively cheap property prices mean that this is a good area to get in at the initial stages of development and which could deliver great dividends if you invest wisely.

The average property price is just over £207,000 with a 28% increase in value over the last 5 years. For rental income and returns, it compares favourably with cities such as Liverpool.

If you are considering buy to let and other investment properties in locations such as Bradford, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, contact the professional team at Aspen Wolf to find out how we can help.

How Will The Autumn Budget Affect Property Investment?

Property Investors Investment Autumn Budget Finance

If you have read the news lately, it has primarily been dominated by the big ‘B’ of Brexit, however, there has been another big ‘B’ we should be aware of and that is the Autumn 2018 Budget.

By now, you will have heard and read about Chancellor Philip Hammond’s 2018 Budget update. Hammond opened the 2018 Budget, with a confident prediction that it would “open a new chapter in our country’s economic future.” This can leave many people pondering on how it will affect them and their businesses and families.

If you are you wondering exactly how this will directly affect you as a property investor then read on as we will outline the most important changes that you’ll need to know about, from changes to tax bands, important information regarding foreign nationals, changes to stamp duty as well as changes to Capital Gains Tax.  

Tax Bands:

In the Autumn Budget, changes to tax bands were discussed regarding the 2019/2020 year. The personal tax-free allowance where the 40% higher tax is applied will rise from £46,350 to £50,000. Although it may seem small and many landlords were dismayed by the news, we have to be positive as this is still an increase on last year’s figure. Also important to note, is that the threshold for VAT registration will remain unchanged for two years. Read our post to discover if it is worthwhile to invest in property via a limited company rather than as an individual.

Stamp Duty:

In the Autumn Budget, the Government has stated that it will extend first-time buyer’s Stamp Duty relief in England and Northern Ireland to shared ownership properties, regardless of whether the purchaser chose to pay Stamp Duty on the market value of the property. This will even be eligible to be backdated to 22 November 2017, so that all of those who were not previously eligible can claim a refund.

Read about the other Stamp Duty change announced by Prime Minister Theresa May at the beginning of October, to the effect that foreign investors will be subject to higher charges.

How Will The Autumn Budget Affect Property Investment? Aspen Woolf

Foreign Nationals:

In the Autumn Budget, there was an important update regarding non-UK residents and international companies. It is vital to note that all non-UK residents and international companies that are intending on buying and investing in property will also be taxed on indirect disposals of UK land. These rules will apply when a person makes a disposal of an entity that derives 75% or more of its gross asset value from UK land. An exemption will be made available for investors in such entities who hold less than 25% interest.

There will be options available in order to calculate the gain or loss on a disposal using the original acquisition cost of the asset, or by using the value of the asset at commencement of the rules in April 2019.

Another aspect of the Autumn 2018 Budget was that all non-UK resident companies will be charged Corporation Tax rather than Capital Gains Tax on their gains. The Capital Gains Tax charge relating to the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings will be abolished. The legislation will broadly come into effect for disposals from the 6th April 2019.

Capital Gains Tax:

In the Autumn Budget, there were changes regarding Capital Gains Tax. This is especially important information for landlords as the relief that’s been granted reduces Capital Gains Tax on the sale of properties that have previously served as the landlord’s personal residence, but, which are currently being used to let out to tenants as their residential accommodation. This relief sees a maximum exemption of £40,000 per owner.

However, it is important to highlight that from April 2020, this exemption will only be available for landlords who live inside the property with the tenants. There hasn’t been any information regarding single tenants, so we assume that live-in landlords with only a single tenant are not eligible for the lettings relief, meaning that this will only apply towards accommodation with two or more people renting rooms, unless we hear clarification from the Government on this.

Read more about the various taxes property investors face here.

Are you a property owner? Great news, the time period between ceasing to occupy a house and final sale has been reduced from 18 to just 9 months. Though this change does exclude sellers who are disabled and/or who are living in a care home, they will continue to receive the 36-month exemption.

How Will The Autumn Budget Affect Property Investment? Aspen Woolf

Housing News:

In the Autumn Budget, there were some interesting pieces of news regarding the wider housing industry market. Firstly, The Housing Infrastructure Fund will increase by £500 million, bringing the total to a figure of £5.5 billion. There will also be £8.5 million available in order to allocate land for affordable housing. This is great news for property investors looking to expand their portfolios.

Secondly, you may be aware that Sir Oliver Letwin was asked to investigate why it takes house builders such a long time to complete large housing developments after statistics revealed that just over half of the 684,000 homes with planning permission that was granted in July 2016 had actually been completed. The findings of his investigation were that “the idea that housebuilders are behaving like financial investors, speculating over future land values, is not compatible with how they run their businesses. Housebuilders’ profits are generated from selling homes, not from an increase in the value of land” he argues. The Chancellor agreed that the review did not find evidence that major house builders are engaging in land speculation as part of their business model.

Lastly, The Office for Budget Responsibility believes that GDP growth will be 1.6 per cent in 2019, up from previous forecasts of 1.3 per cent; 1.4 per cent in 2020 (up from 1.3 per cent); 1.4 per cent in 2021 (unchanged); 1.5 per cent in 2022 (unchanged); and 1.6 per cent in 2023. This steady growth can only mean good things for property investors.

To conclude, 2019/2020 seems like there will be a positive outcome forecast for property investors with plenty of reliefs including changes to Capital Gains Tax, increased tax bands, more money being delivered into investment funds, as well as Stamp Duty being extended.

Here at Aspen Woolf, we can help you with your property investment journey, whether you’re at the beginning or if you already have a vast portfolio, we have an expert team who are ready to hear from you today.

Foreign Investors to Pay Higher Stamp Duty on UK Purchases

Property website showing higher prices for investors from abroad

Investors from abroad who are looking to buy properties in the UK will be hit with higher charges in the form of stamp duty according to the current government. The change was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May at the beginning of October and is a response that is designed to address the current housing crisis.

It’s generally believed that foreign investors looking to buy a property in areas like London are driving up house prices, something that is putting them out of reach of many UK citizens. The market in the Capital may be currently experiencing a dip, but the average cost of a semi-detached property is still over £580,000, way beyond the means of many first time buyers.

While May cited the new tax as a way of creating a more level playing field, the building industry reacted by saying that it would put the brakes on an already stalling house market. That’s because fewer new properties would be built with less investment coming in from overseas, something which many developers depend on.

What is the Stamp Duty Increase?

The increase will be 1% but could rise to 3% later. If it comes into effect, it is expected to raise tens of millions for the UK government. That means, of course, for each property, an overseas entity or individual will pay more. The details have yet to be thrashed out, however, and a date has not yet been set for when it will come into effect.

There will be a consultation period during which interested bodies, including those from the building industry, will be able to put their points of view across.

Why has the Government Announced It?

There has long been a feeling that the current government in the UK has been swamped by the Brexit issue, with many domestic changes and policies getting lost in the drama and turmoil of leaving the EU. The announcement came as the Conservative government was about to start their party conference at the end of September.

Foreign Investors to Pay Higher Stamp Duty on UK Purchases Aspen Woolf

A number of factors have driven the proposed increase in stamp duty. Two years ago the stamp duty rate for second home buyers was increased in an attempt to give more opportunity to first time buyers who now pay no tax below a certain threshold.

In other countries, levies on foreign investors have already been introduced, including in Australia and Canada. The UK government seems to be following the same model in the hope that it will make the market more equitable for local home buyers.

There’s also an increasing crisis of homelessness in the UK’s capital city. It’s estimated that the tax levy will deliver £40 million that could be invested in providing homes and accommodation to this neglected section of society. If the government then decided to boost the stamp duty to 3% later, it would potentially bring £120 million to the chancery.

The major reason is equity. According to Theresa May:

“It cannot be right that it is as easy for individuals who don’t live in the UK, as well as foreign-based companies, to buy homes as hardworking British residents. For too many people the dream of home ownership has become all too distant and the indignity of rough sleeping remains all too real.”

What Does It Mean for Foreign Property Investors?

While the proposed change to stamp duty was broadly welcomed in political circles, the actual impact on the long-term housing market is uncertain. With Brexit looming large, by the time the consultation takes place, we could even be looking at a change of government and a major change of opinion.

Foreign Investors to Pay Higher Stamp Duty on UK Purchases Aspen Woolf

The Labour opposition’s approach to overseas property speculators say could well be a lot harsher. While putting in measures to collect more tax from companies that do business in the UK, they’re also planning to ensure that overseas property investment becomes less attractive across the board. That political socialism may well have much bigger consequences for those who choose to buy properties in the UK.

The major issue for foreign investors is not necessarily the extra cost in purchasing a property either but the potential impact it could have on the housing market. If builders are no longer getting foreign investment coming in, they may cut their own activity and put up fewer houses, flats, and offices. That could, in turn, put property prices at a premium for overseas cash investors – especially in lucrative areas like London – as well as local buyers.

The big issue is whether it will actually work to make the housing market more viable for local residents. The building industry and developers, in particular, understand that the overseas market provides an important source of funding. At the same time, the government announced that they would remove the cap on how much local councils can borrow to build new housing – that may balance the equation but it’s by no means assured.

There’s also no guarantee that lifting the cost of buying a property will bring the prices of homes down within reach of national home buyers. While the extra money raised by a 1% increase would be welcome, £40 million is still a drop in the ocean when put against the growing housing crisis and homelessness and what it actually takes to solve this problem.

For the moment, overseas property investors will have to wait and see when it comes to the stamp duty increase. The consultation is expected to be completed and delivered by the end of January 2019. In the recent budget, Chancellor Phillip Hammond also appeared to climb down from a future 3% hike in the stamp duty.

Before the consultation, however, you might expect to see a flurry of purchases by overseas investors attempting to get ahead of the game. If that sounds like you, or you’d like some further information about investing in property in the UK, our team can advise you on the most lucrative investments.

Will Expats Sell Up And Come Home After Brexit?

UK flag EU flag Brexit

Brexit has been a topic of discussion for some time now, and recent talk has worried expats. The question on many lips is, what are British expats planning on doing? Will they sell up their European homes and move back to England?

According to United Nations there are just over 4.5 million British citizens currently living outside of Britain; 1.3 million of these Brits abroad reside in European countries. This is a vast number of people, and the decisions they are likely to make following Brexit will affect not only them, but the entire country and beyond.

What might happen after Brexit?

The Citizen’s Rights Agreement was agreed between the UK and EU27 in December 2017 and ensures that Brits and EU Nationals reserve their residency rights. Following on, in March 2018 it was agreed that the effects of Brexit would be postponed until the end of 2021 (unless a deal is not agreed). If British expats living abroad wish to ensure their right to stay in the country that they are currently resident in, it is strongly advisable to make arrangements before March 2019 as the 2021 extended deadline is not guaranteed. After Brexit, British citizens will no longer have freedom of movement within the EU and the application process for living, or working, abroad is likely to be far more complicated.

Why expats might return to the UK after Brexit

Expats may decide to return to the UK for a variety of reasons; many of which are financial.

Although no one knows exactly how Brexit is going to affect the UK, there has been talk that travel might be more difficult. It is also expected that people living in other countries may not get the medical advantages citizens living in the UK get currently.

If travel is going to become challenging, then coming home occasionally might be slightly more difficult. In some instances, some European regional air routes may not be economical. Therefore, this could be a reason for British expats to move back to England. Travelling won’t become impossible but whilst Brexit is on the horizon, people might feel more secure to be in England whilst changes are being made.

Will Expats Sell Up And Come Home After Brexit? Aspen Woolf

Especially in Spain and Portugal, expats are contemplating selling their properties and moving back. Why is this? Well, their family is all at home and the fear of not being able to see them easily might cause a fright. There is the dilemma for having friends in another country, but their family waiting for them at home. There are also long-term benefits for moving back home, as Brexit may result in the country benefiting financially. There is talk that the UK property market may have a sudden growth and improve the UK economy.

Another worry which might explain why expats are thinking of moving back to England is the recent suggestions about scrapping state pensions for those who live abroad; this might turn into a new law making it illegal for expats to receive a state pension. Whilst many people move abroad once they are retired, a state pension is a huge important factor to enable people to live. Therefore, this might just be a scare for expats, but the risk might just bring a lot of people back to England.

With all of the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit, many may find investing in property within the UK to be a more straightforward prospect than abroad.

Why British expats might choose not to return to England

On the other hand, there are British expats who are staying firmly in their new-found country and home. There are many reasons, whilst Brexit is going ahead, people are not giving in and deciding to stay away from England.

If British expats were to move back to England, the possibility of them returning to their home abroad might be slightly difficult. Whilst moving homes is stressful, moving to a new home in a new country is an entirely different prospect. There is current uncertainty as there has been a “withdrawal agreement for expats rights”. This means there are no guarantees that it will be a smooth transition from inside to outside the EU.

People who do not agree with the idea to leave the European union may also be more likely to stay in the country they have moved to. With fear that leaving the union may cause revolt between other countries who decided to stay it might be easier for people to stay put. However, it is likely there are other factors why people may stay abroad.

In general, people move abroad when they have retired to escape from their busy lives and relax. The weather is also a massive reason why, despite Brexit, people will choose to stay in the sunny relaxed climate elsewhere. There are pros and cons, and Brexit is a huge consideration which is making people think twice whether they want to remain abroad or move back home.

Will Expats Sell Up And Come Home After Brexit? Aspen Woolf

Currency movements

There is another issue which contributes whether expats will sell up and come home after Brexit, that is the currency movements. At the moment it stands as €1.138 to the pound, this is fall of just over 20% just prior to the subject of Brexit, therefore it has gone down, thus affecting any sterling payments received by expats. This is another huge consideration when predicting whether expats will sell up and move back to England. This is due to the fact that it might be worthwhile for expats to sell their properties and move back to the UK, depending on what will happen to the UK’s economy.

All in all, there are considerations for expats to ponder. Deciding whether to continue to live abroad in a different country or to move back home is currently on a lot of people’s minds. Will the property market in the UK decline or take a different turn? Will the currency keep fluctuating and will Brexit improve the UK’s economy? There are many factors that are going to be affected when the Brexit movement takes full force therefore the subject of expats will be greatly talked about. Whilst holiday homes are becoming more popular as well as renting out properties abroad as an investment, living abroad is another matter.

There are many different factors which may keep expats in their home abroad, however whilst having family back home the decision whether to stay or move is the main focus as Brexit is beginning to start. There is currently no guarantee what will happen plus here is uncertainty whether rights in the UK to EU expats will continue and also what rights the EU will give to those who remain . With the fear of pension laws changing, access to UK bank accounts and flights being affected by Brexit there are many factors that are going to change which may result in people moving back to the UK or staying in their home abroad.

There is still no definitive answer to the question of expats of leaving their new home abroad and selling up to move home: Will it be for the better or for the worse? No one knows what Brexit exactly will entail, and what changes are going to be made in terms of the property market in the UK and abroad. For expert advice regarding property investment in the UK or abroad, get in touch with Aspen Woolf, property investment specialists based in London, offering property investment opportunities across the globe.

Aspen Woolf on 2018’s top ten property hotspots in the UK

Leeds City Skyline view

We’ve had a look at the best UK hotspots for property investment across the UK. Our top ten shows where it’s best to invest money for guaranteed demand and the highest capital growth.

The market has become used to inflated prices in the south east and London and savvy investors are looking away from the traditional investment regions towards the north. Infrastructure improvements courtesy of the Northern Powerhouse are starting to show results. Recent reports from KPMG show that the North West, North East and Yorkshire will all see some of the highest average house price growth over the next ten years. Check out our top ten.

  1. Bradford

Just five miles from Leeds, Bradford is often in its shadow, but it’s an affordable area going through its own period of regeneration. It’s more of a large town than a true city and is full of typical northern-street terraced houses and Victorian homes with bay windows. You can buy a one-bed flat as little as £75,000! Landlords can expect yields of 8% on two-bed homes in the affordable postcodes BD7 and 8.

  1. Manchester

Manchester is the fastest-growing city outside of London and is home some impressive regeneration projects. These are led by the Salford Quays media complex and the digitally-orientated Northern Quarter. There’s no doubt that 2018 is a good time to invest in property in Manchester, with high ROIs in areas such as Chorlton, Salford and Fallowfield. Prices are rising fast and yields are around twice those in London. About half of the housing stock is private rents, and the massive student population underpins demand for flats.

  1. Liverpool

Another northern city benefiting from inward investment and large-scale job creation, Liverpool is also on the up. Flagship projects include the Liverpool Waters scheme, which has cost around £5 billion. This will transform a massive brownfield site into five new neighbourhoods. Property investment in Liverpool centres around a young, keen workforce looking for long term rentals. Average house prices are on the lower end but are increasing.

  1. Leeds

Leeds is a shining star of the Northern Powerhouse, having come to the end of a long process of gentrification. It’s now a stylish, ultra-modern city with an impressive amount of housing. As it shares an airport with Bradford and will benefit from HS2, it has garnered the attention of overseas investors buying up new builds. However, there are good capital growth opportunities, with areas LS1 and LS11 working well for city workers, and the further out LS6 and LS8 achieving high yields.

  1. Birmingham

The second biggest city in the UK is the heart of the country and home to 4.5 million. There is a real shortage of rental accommodation, which is pushing property prices up. Demand is particularly strong in areas like Edgbaston and Halesowen, and any cash buyers could do well out of non-traditional properties in areas like Kings Norton.

  1. Sheffield

Demand is outweighing supply at the moment in this South Yorkshire city. It’s likely that Sheffield, along with Bradford, will benefit from prices increases in Leeds as first-time buyers become priced out of the market. The S1/S2 postcodes offer some of the highest rental yields in the country.  Prices have tripled since 2001, but it’s perfect for investors looking to add to their portfolio with on-street terraces for £50,000 or three-bed ex council houses for £75,000.

  1. Hull

Hull has one of the highest proportions of young people in the UK, thanks to the investment in digital tech and windpower the city has enjoyed since it was 2017’s City of Culture. Student lettings return high yields and it’s likely that price growth and steady demand for rentals will continue to make Hull popular for buy-to-let investors.

  1. Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Analysis last year suggested that Newcastle and the North East (including Gateshead, Sunderland, North and South Shields) will house England’s most affordable properties over the coming decades. While capital growth isn’t an incentive here right now, it could be a wise long-term portfolio investment.

  1. Nottingham

Nottingham is often overlooked but has the UK’s seventh biggest economy and is likely to benefit from the proposed HS2 station. Extensions to the tram network have seen prices increase in suburbs like Wilford, Beeston and Clifton.

  1. Leicester

Leicester’s economy is bigger than Nottingham’s and is home to many household brand name companies. This means inward migration of young professionals, and house prices rose throughout 2017. Semi-detached and terraced houses are particularly in demand, with the best areas to invest in buy-to-let include LE3, where you could get a terrace with yields over 5%.

Ten Things You Never Knew About Bradford

bradford city centre

Bradford is a resilient community and a city that has been through the mill, in more ways than one. Now enjoying a cultural renaissance, it’s a true Pennine city with lots in common with the nearby towns of Huddersfield and Halifax in particular.

It’s also one of the biggest cities in England by population size, coming in fifth after Sheffield, Leeds, Birmingham and London. Many first-time visitors are surprised by the sheer number of attractions and a newly emerging leisure scene. Here are ten facts about Bradford that you might also find surprising.

Bradford is:

  1. Officially Britain’s ‘curry capital’

Bradford has been named Curry Capital of Britain for five years running, annually soaking up praise for its fine curry restaurants.

  1. Home to the biggest water fountain in the country

Bradford City Park was conceived as part of the 2003 masterplan to regenerate the city centre. A large public space right in the centre of the city, the park is very near the Grade 1 listed Bradford City Hall, and its main feature is a mirror pool containing the highest fountain in any British city.

  1. Home to the largest former industrial building in the world

Salts Mills was designed by Lockwood and Mawson for Sir Titus Salt in 1853. Today it’s a shopping centre, art gallery and restaurant complex and houses many paintings by local artist David Hockney.

The former textile mill was the largest industrial building in the world when it was built and didn’t close its doors as a manufacturer until 1986. Entrepreneur Jonathan Silver bought it a year later and turned it into a retail, cultural and business centre.

  1. Experiencing a large population boom

Excluding London, figures show that Bradford is currently undergoing the biggest population growth in the UK. The city also has the largest proportion of under-fives and under 19-year olds, and the largest average household size.

Between 2001 and 2011 when the last censuses were taken, the overall population grew by 11% to 470,800. The next census is due in 2021 and is expected to show a massive increase in general population.

  1. Home to the oldest concert hall still in use in the UK

St George’s Hall opened on 29 August 1853 and it’s still going. Not only is it the oldest in the UK, but also the third oldest in the whole continent. Originally designed for a capacity of 3,500, it now seats 1,500 and was financed by German Jewish wool merchants who moved to Bradford for its textile industry. It was temporarily closed in 2016 for an £8.5 million restoration project and is due to reopen later this year.

  1. Also home to the Alhambra Palace theatre

Right in the centre of Bradford, the Alhambra is much loved within the theatre community. Built in 1913 at a cost of £20,000 as the project of a local impresario, Francis Laidler, it opened on 18 March 1914. Over the last century it has welcomed many big names, including Laurel and Hardy, Morcambe & Wise, Peter Sellers and Rik Mayall onto its stage and was awarded Grade II listed status in 1974.

It’s one of the finest theatres in England, and now hosts large-scale touring theatre companies of all kinds to an audience of up to 1,456.

  1. Known as the former ‘King of Wool’

The 19th century was a golden time for Bradford, when it rose to prominence as an international centre for quality textile manufacture and, in particular, wool. It was a classic boomtown of the Industrial Revolution years and quickly became the wool capital of the entire world.

As the wool and textile manufacturing grew, so did the population and investment in the city. You can still see it today in the architecture of Bradford City Hall. In more recent times, the textile manufacture has moved abroad but the city’s rich past can be seen in its landmarks, including Salts Mill and Manningham Mills.

  1. The ‘City of Film’

In 2009, Bradford roundly beat Cannes, Venice and LA to be named the world’s first UNESCO City of Film. Bradford was awarded the title for its long association with filmmaking, going back to the very start of cinema. Today, Bradford hosts a number of high-profile and internationally recognised film festivals and film related events.

  1. Bursting with entrepreneurial spirit

Bradford has a young and dynamic workforce, and a host of creative entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of the unique culture and global business links in the city. There is a high level of self-employment and business start-ups. The fact that it’s the youngest city in the UK, with almost a quarter of its population under 16 years old, suggests that this youthful spirit will continue to revitalise the city going forward.

  1. Home to major company headquarters

In Bradford and the surrounding district, a number of major companies have their headquarters, including Yorkshire Building Society, Morrisons, Provident Financial, Hallmark Cards, Arris (Pace) and Yorkshire Water. More than 40 large companies have their headquarters in the district and employ more than 370,000 with a combined turnover of around £30 billion.