All eyes on Cumbria, as Lake District’s new UNESCO World Heritage status inspires rush of investment

All eyes on Cumbria, as Lake District’s new UNESCO World Heritage status inspires rush of investment

United Kingdom World

· Properties near UNESCO sites enjoy 27% higher value than the average UK home (Zoopla) 

· UK staycations up 24% this summer (Sojern) 

· Hotels outside London projected to reach record occupancy levels in 2017 (PwC) 

· Spa hotels now account for 40% of £1.5 billion UK spa industry (Spa Creators) 

The Lake District in Cumbria has become the latest area of the UK to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. The honour is conferred on those sites that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization deems to be important to humanity due to their cultural, historical and/or scientific significance.

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful UK regions, with stunning rolling mountains and the iconic lakes for which the area is named providing an outstanding natural environment. It has long been popular with walkers, hikers and those seeking peace, away from the trappings of modern life.

Now, Cumbria is also drawing in investors, from property buyers to those picking up hotel rooms.

“A UNESCO World Heritage award often brings with it an increase in property prices and interest from investors. Zoopla figures show that properties near UNESCO sites command a price premium averaging 27% when compared to the average UK home. As such, a lot of investors are appraising Cumbria right now.”

Ray Withers, CEO, Property Frontiers 

It’s not just buy-to-let property investments that investors are keen to examine in Cumbria. With an area of such incredible beauty, investments with lifestyle benefits are highly prized. The Eden Country Spa Hotel is a great example of this trend.

Well placed for access to Hadrian’s Wall and the Cumbrian countryside, the Eden Country Spa Hotel offers investors two weeks’ personal usage per year. The site is currently being developed into a micro-destination in its own right. As well as top-of-the-range spa facilities, the hotel will offer adventure trails, woodland walks and an equestrian centre, as well as a superb, five-star dining experience, magnificent orangery and laidback cocktail lounge.

“What we see at the Eden Country Spa Hotel is just what investors in areas like Cumbria are seeking – an attractive package of lifestyle benefits on top of solid numbers. In this case, that means returns of 10% NET per annum for up to 10 years, with a low entry point of £45,000. It’s the whole package.”

Ray Withers, CEO, Property Frontiers 

With the UK in the midst of a staycation boom (travel company Sojern has reported a 23.8% rise in those planning domestic breaks this summer), spa hotels are an attractive option for investors looking to capitalise on current trends. According to Spa Creators, UK consumers make 6 million visits to spas every year, while Diagonal Reports estimates that the UK spa market is now worth more than £1.5 billion.

Hotel spas account for 40% of that market and projections certainly look promising for 2017. PwC forecasts that hotel occupancy levels outside London will reach record highs, with growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR) of 2.3% during 2017.

“Hospitality is a key sector for growth, employment and overseas earnings in the UK. It is our 6th largest contributor to export earnings and 4th largest employer – accounting for 4.49 million people or 10% of the workforce and over 180,000 businesses.” 

Andrew Sentance, Senior Economic Advisor, PwC 

All of this is good news for hotels like Cumbria’s Eden Country Spa Hotel. With the UK’s hospitality and spa industries booming, and the Lake District’s new UNESCO World Heritage status attracting considerable attention from tourists and investors alike, the future is looking very rosy indeed.

For more information on investment opportunities around the world, contact Property Frontiers by visiting www.propertyfrontiers.com or calling +44 1865 202 700.

2017 global property market predictions – insights from the experts

2017 global property market predictions – insights from the experts

United Kingdom World
  • Staycations set to have a major impact on the UK market in 2017
  • Secondary cities in Europe to hold fast in the face of fractious politics
  • US housing market growth to continue into 2017

2016 has been quite a year for global property markets. China’s slowdown, the impeachment of Brazil’s president, the Brexit referendum in the UK and the US presidential election have all contributed to a rather tumultuous year. Will property markets fare any better in 2017? And where precisely are the hotspots that bear watching as the new year unfolds? Ray Withers, CEO of Property Frontiers reveals all…

UK – era of the staycation

In 2009, during the height of the recession, UK residents made 15.5% fewer overseas trips and 17% more domestic trips. Since then British holidays are still gaining in popularity: the number of domestic trips in 2015 was up by 11% on the previous year. The Brexit referendum’s repercussions may well change how we experience summers to come. This is the new era of the staycation.

While residential rental yields are likely to remain strong (outside of London), with so many unknowns house price changes remain tricky to forecast. For UK property investing in 2017, we believe that holiday homes, coastal cottages, and hotels will be popular with investors looking for a favourable stamp duty environment, high yields and insulation from market uncertainty. To maximise returns, look for regions with natural or cultural appeal, unflagging visitor numbers, and an undersupply on the hospitality market.

UK – the hangman loosens the noose on landlords

Philip Hammond’s 1994 election material slipped in a humdinger: ‘hanging for premeditated murder.’ The question is: when it comes to fiscal policy impacting landlords, will the new Chancellor play the hangman or the handyman?

With rock bottom mortgage rates and rent increases of 19% forecast for the next five years, it is still a good time to be a landlord. The lack of supply on the market could well spell a good opportunity for investors. University towns like Bristol and Cambridge and secondary cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield should remain on the radar for strong yields next year.

Europe – secondary cities withstand shaky politics

Europe’s fractious politics will have a big year in 2017. For an early indication of how those decisions might affect property markets, look to Italy and Austria in the aftermath of their December 2016 votes. The defeat of Renzi’s constitutional referendum in Italy, for example, could cause problems for struggling banks and infect the wider economy, including impacting mortgage lending.

The victory of the liberal over the far-right candidate in Austria’s presidential election, however, favoured stability and European integration. Given that Vienna is unlikely to end its seven-year streak atop Mercer’s global quality of living ranking and its housing market is just 20% owner occupied, the result may well safeguard the city’s growing reputation as a buy-to-let hotspot.

Other cities we think merit attention for high yields in 2017 include Lisbon (thanks to tech clusters and the historic centre), Utrecht (enjoying the Netherlands’ continent-beating 6.57% yields but without Amsterdam’s bubbly prices), and Barcelona (still down on its peak, with growing business appeal).

Europe – Brexit’s beneficiaries?

When (if?) Britain triggers Article 50 in 2017, will we see bankers transfer en masse from London to Amsterdam and startups relocate from Manchester to Hamburg? While large scale migrations are unlikely, the pressure will be on for British cities to reassert their global appeal if the property market is to bounce along at 8% growth again in 2017.

European cities will be putting up a strong fight, and battling to skim off what talent they can. Frankfurt and Paris will make particularly aggressive bids, but they will need to need to drastically improve their supply of office space if they are to become truly viable alternatives.

We may see a new trend for Brits doubling up their holiday or retirement homes as tickets to visa-free travel. Spain and Portugal could see a steep upswing in applications for their ‘golden visas.’

North America – punching above its weight?

The US rocketed past the UK as the stage for the biggest political upset of 2016 with the election of Donald Trump. The S&P Case-Shiller home price index ends the year at a new record peak and such punchy growth will likely continue into 2017. Even if the market proves to be overheated, more responsible lending means a sub-prime-scale implosion is a very distant possibility.

The other theme of US house price growth, its patchy distribution, may also become more pronounced. New York home values appear comatose in comparison to Portland and Seattle, where prices grew by 12% and 11% respectively in the year to September. Yet lunatic price hikes across the border in Canada, make even those numbers look comparatively demure; Toronto closes out 2016 leading the Teranet and National Bank of Canada index with an insane growth rate of 34.6%.

Further afield

South America may become a less daunting investment prospect in 2017, with Brazil and Argentina poised to shake off the political deadlock of last year and Colombia coming closer to peace. Our pick for an enticing investment target is Peru, where a new business-friendly government could revive the property boom and Lima’s hotel market should benefit from fast-growing visitor numbers, a generous tourist spend, and limited supply coming on to the market.

In Africa and the Middle East, the price of oil has played havoc with economies. Property markets could well see a boost if the price of oil rallies in 2017. This could benefit countries like Ghana and Uganda, where the economies are sufficiently diversified to avoid the pitfalls that accompany surprise discoveries of oil. Land development is already rife in their respective capitals of Accra and Kampala.

Investors have been glued to Iran’s gradual unfurling onto the global stage and will continue to look on in 2017, though caution is advised until President Trump’s official stance makes itself clear.

In Asia, Indonesia and Vietnam are making encouraging moves to attract foreign investors, and boast the economic growth to back it up. 2017 will be crucial for testing how well these new rules work in practice, and early birds who plan appropriately could catch the juiciest worms.

China might decide to employ state intervention for the forces of good to re-jig its land imbalance and loosen the notoriously prohibitive hukou residency permit system. This would allow demand and supply to better align and let some steam out of the Chinese property market’s swelling paper lantern.

Finally, our client database reveals a growing share of Indian investors contending with their Chinese counterparts as the dominant group of family buyers casting a wider net for safe havens overseas. Though the UK has not lost its appeal, we might expect to see them target regions closer to home as traditional Western markets start to feel more volatile.

For further details on 2017 investment trends, visit the Property Frontiers blog.

For more information on investment opportunities around the world, contact Property Frontiers by visiting www.propertyfrontiers.com or calling +44 1865 202 700.

Winter round-up: the 2017 Where To… list

Winter round-up: the 2017 Where To… list

World , , , , ,
  • The best locations for spending your money in 2017
  • Buy a second home in Spain, invest in a hotel in North Wales and holiday in Tenerife
  • Stick with the UK for buy-to-let investment and play the stock market from the comfort of your bed

With one eye on the future and one on the hottest property and location trends of 2016, it’s time to look at the best places to spend your money in 2017. The 2017 Where To… list covers everything from holidays and holiday homes, to property investments and playing the stock market.

Where To… Buy a second home

When it comes to buying a second home, Spain is the obvious choice for many. Post-Brexit vote reports are that property sales and enquiries from British buyers have ramped up noticeably. Leading Spanish property portal Kyero.com has reported record enquiry numbers since the referendum. Head of Research Richard Speigal comments,

“Spain offers a great climate, fabulous food and excellent value for money. Brexit doesn’t seem to have deterred British buyers in the slightest. In fact, it seems to have spurred many on to purchase their dream second home sooner rather than later.”

The golf courses and beaches of the Costa del Sol are ideal for those looking for a second home in Spain. Taylor Wimpey España is offering spacious apartments and townhouses at Horizon Golf near Mijas from €270,000+VAT.

Where To… Invest in a hotel

An up-and-coming asset class, hotel investment looks set to take off in a big way in the UK over the next couple of years. Jean Liggett, pioneering CEO of Properties of the World, comments,

“Hotel investment offers excellent returns and benefits from not being subject to stamp duty. It’s ideal for property investors who are looking to get more for their money.”

Those investing in Caer Rhun Hall Hotel in Conwy, North Wales (rooms available from £75,000), can look forward to returns of circa 10% per annum, 125% developer optional buy-back and two weeks’ personal usage of their hotel room per year.

Where to…Holiday over the winter months

When it comes to winter sunshine, Tenerife is one of the top short-haul destinations for those travelling from the UK. Idyllic beaches with a sea temperature of 21°C and an average December temperature of 17°C, combined with excellent value for money make this an enticing destination. There’s plenty on offer to entertain the whole family all year round, and some outstanding value hotel rooms available over the winter months.

Cheap Holidays Tenerife has rooms available from as little as £93 per night for those looking to stock up on vitamin D before Christmas and from just £98 per night for holidaymakers planning a break in the New Year.

Where To… Invest in a buy-to-let property

Despite the increase to stamp duty on second homes earlier this year, the UK’s buy-to-let market is still faring well. There are plenty of cities around the UK that offer great returns and the potential for capital growth. One of the most exciting for 2017 is Belfast.

Property prices in Northern Ireland remain some 40% below their 2007 peak, but they’re rising fast. Buy-to-let investors with an eye on capital gains as well as healthy yields are examining the market there closely. With Belfast accounting for 43% of Northern Ireland’s total rental transactions, it is the natural choice for those looking to invest in buy-to-let.

The Frontiers’ Collection at The Sandford, located in Belfast’s thriving Titanic Quarter and available through Property Frontiers, offers one bedroom apartments from £114,750 and two bedroom homes from £141,750.

Over in England it is Manchester that is turning heads as a buy-to-let destination. Surrenden Invest is supporting would-be landlords to avoid paying the proposed ‘Green Tax’ by offering the low-carbon technology Artillery House for investment. The contemporary development enjoys a prime city centre location in Manchester’s ‘Golden Triangle’ and will be one of the city’s most energy efficient buildings. The 12 high end, boutique apartments are available for investment from £120,000.

Where To… Play the stock market

If stocks and shares appeal more than bricks and mortar, 2017 could be the perfect time to try out your skills as a trader. easyMarkets is on a mission to democratise trading, making it possible for anyone with an interest in the markets to dabble from the comfort of their own home. Not only do they offer learning resources and regular insights for those who are new to trading, but their innovative dealCancellation product means that losing trades can be cancelled within 60 minutes of making them – perfect for nervous newbies!

 

For more information, please contact:

Kyero: www.kyero.com

Taylor Wimpey España: 08000 121 020 (00 34 971 706 972 from outside of the UK) or www.taylorwimpeyspain.com

Properties of the World: +44 20 7624 5555 or www.propertiesoftheworld.co.uk

Cheap Holidays Tenerife: 0800 0124 300 or www.cheap-holidays-tenerife.com

Property Frontiers: +44 1865 202 700 or www.propertyfrontiers.com

easyMarkets: +44 203 1500 748 or www.easymarkets.com

Exclusive new Frontiers’ Collection launch to capitalize on Northern Ireland housing supply shortfall

Exclusive new Frontiers’ Collection launch to capitalize on Northern Ireland housing supply shortfall

United Kingdom

·         New homes being built at less than half the rate needed (Savills)

·         Anticipated UK housing market downturn unlikely to impact significantly on Northern Ireland (NIHE)

·         Frontiers’ Collection Belfast apartments newly launched by Property Frontiers 

House prices in Northern Ireland remain some 40% below their 2007 peak, but lack of supply is pushing them steadily upward. In light of rapidly increased demand for new homes, Property Frontiers has launched the second phase of the Frontiers’ Collection apartments at The Sandford in Belfast.

According to Savills, house prices in Northern Ireland increased faster than in any other UK region in 2014. In 2015, they shot up by 8%, and over the coming three years they are expected to rise by 6% per annum. Lack of supply of new dwellings is one of the main reasons behind the projections, despite construction output having grown by 4.1% in Q2 2016, based on data from the Department for the Economy.

Social housing figures back up the need for new housing. According to official government estimates, some 37,000 households are on the registered waiting list for social housing. Northern Ireland’s Minister for Communities has stated an ambition to start a further 9,600 new social homes by 2021, at a rate of 2,000 per year. Meanwhile the Housing Executive’s Northern Ireland Housing Market Review and Perspectives 2014-2017 report has forecast that some 190,000 new homes will be needed between 2008 and 2025. That equates to 11,200 new dwellings per year, but Savills has confirmed that less than half of that number were completed in 2015.

The worsening lack of supply is impacting on prices across the country. Property Frontiers CEO Ray Withers comments,

“We’ve seen prices rise across Northern Ireland over the past couple of years and the Belfast housing market is benefitting from that trend. With buyers able to look forward to the prospect of capital gains paired with steady buy-to-let income, now is the ideal time to launch the Frontiers’ Collection.

“The contemporary style of the apartments is perfectly suited to the needs of Belfast’s dynamic workforce. Many recent graduates and other professionals working in the city’s booming digital tech sector are keen to make the Titanic Quarter their home and demand for rental property in the city is strong.”

Belfast is the most significant rental market in Northern Ireland, accounting for 43% of all rental transactions in the country. The city’s e-commerce, app and software development and cyber security companies recently led the Tech National 2016 report to put it on a par with London and Manchester as one of the key digital tech clusters in the UK. Professionals working across the industry are keen to rent modern, stylish homes located in the heart of the city, with the Titanic Quarter proving particularly attractive thanks to its unique blend of leisure activities and employment opportunities.

As Northern Ireland’s economy strengthens and housing demand continues to fall further behind supply, many buyers are keen to capitalize on the opportunities that Belfast offers, according to Property Frontiers. Interestingly, Brexit worries are not being felt so strongly in the city as they are in some other areas of the UK, despite Northern Ireland voting overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. As the Northern Ireland Housing Executive summarises,

Unlike in the mid-2000s, Northern Ireland has over the past few years only experienced steady, sustainable growth. It is therefore unlikely that the expected downturn in the UK housing market will impact significantly on house prices in Northern Ireland.

What better time to invest?

Contemporary apartments at The Sandford, in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, are available from £114,750 for a one-bedroom home and £141,750 for a two-bed. Already under construction, the apartments are available through the Frontiers’ Collection from Property Frontiers.

For more information on investment opportunities around the world, contact Property Frontiers by visiting www.propertyfrontiers.com or calling +44 1865 202 700.

To invest or not to invest… that is the Brexit brainteaser

To invest or not to invest… that is the Brexit brainteaser

United Kingdom
  • Pound lingering at record lows
  • British property c. 20% cheaper than before the referendum for buyers with dollars
  • Demand up in September but average stocks on agents’ books close to historic lows (RICS)

With the pound lingering at record lows and UK politics changing by the day, British buyers and international investors alike are rightly wondering where the property market is heading.

While they don’t have a crystal ball, the experts at Property Frontiers are feeling increasingly confident in their answer to the question they’ve been hearing most lately: “Should I invest now, or wait and see?”

The answer of course depends on your individual circumstances, but the evidence is mounting in favour of moving now.

Property Frontiers CEO Ray Withers explains,

“Brexit is undoubtedly a game-changer, and when the playing field shifts like that, it creates opportunities to get ahead as well as potential pitfalls. Some investors thrive on situations like these, hunting uncertainty around the world, while others let themselves be paralysed into not investing at all. I wouldn’t particularly recommend either course, but there is a happy medium.”

The clearest reason the UK falls into this category at the moment is sterling’s recent plunge: the currency play represents a huge opportunity for international investors. Heated debate about whether the pound will climb, settle, or fall further is pure speculation. It is a fact, on the other hand, that British property is around 20% cheaper than it was before the referendum for buyers with dollars and/or many other currencies, especially those pegged to the dollar (e.g. BHD, HKD, QAR, SAR and AED). Savings of that magnitude may render further gambling – in the form of delaying an investment – unnecessarily risky.

Delaying in order to beat the pound could go either way. Delaying in order to beat the property market, however, is very wishful thinking. Every week, more and more statistics confirm the industry consensus that (barring a full-blown recession) house prices are not going to get any cheaper any time soon, and the fundamentals in most markets still point to chronic undersupply.

Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest house price index, which reports price increases in the year to August 2016 of 8.4%, up from 8% in July and never dropping below 7% this year. Even the Nationwide index, based on less optimistic survey data (rather than actual registered sales), reports that the worst monthly change since the referendum was a 0.2% increase (in July, just after the vote).

Property Frontiers’ Ray Withers continues,

“In my view, what we have seen in the past few months is a temporary slowdown in a long period of excellent growth underpinned by strong fundamentals. This plateau offers a vanishing window of opportunity before prices ramp up again, and even if we get more surprises next year they may not offer anything better.”

A new RICS survey reports that demand ticked up in September while average stocks on property agents’ books were close to historic lows. August’s drop in mortgage rates should also boost demand and support price levels. And whether values increase substantially or not, in a super-low interest world, British rental yields remain amongst the strongest across many markets. RICS has further identified a “critical rental shortage” in the UK, predicting 1.8m more households will be looking to rent rather than buy a home by 2025, while Countrywide forecasts a 4% increase in rents in 2017 and again in 2018.

As the best and brightest of the industry rubbed shoulders at MIPIM last week, congregating under the banner “extraordinary times, extraordinary returns?” investors will do well to remember that there are certainly profits to be had in the UK market and to be wary of dismissing making a move due to volatility. Property is still among the safest and most stable of many asset classes, and now remains a favourable time for those that have cash (especially in different currencies) and are seeking long term investment opportunities.

For more information, contact Property Frontiers by visiting www.propertyfrontiers.com or calling +44 1865 202 700.

 

The North heads South to MIPIM en masse to corner new real estate business opportunities

The North heads South to MIPIM en masse to corner new real estate business opportunities

United Kingdom , ,
  • Manchester offering strong returns on stylish homes (Surrenden Invest)
  • Northern cities providing something ‘a cut above the average’ (Properties of the World)
  • Liverpool flagged as 2017 property investment hotspot (Property Frontiers)

The much celebrated MIPIM UK property industry extravaganza will take place at London’s Olympia from 19-21 October 2016.

Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, will be among those attending, along with a strong contingent of his peers from the North of England. The Northern team will be attending en masse in order to show that the North remains open for business, despite the ongoing distraction of Brexit. Bernstein comments,

“MIPIM is the first major real estate event since the EU referendum and I’m looking forward to reinforcing the importance of Manchester and the north to the UK economy. The event will be a great opportunity to discover the diverse investment and development opportunities the north has to offer.”

Manchester is certainly generating some interesting real estate investment opportunities at present. In a prime position in the heart of the city, Halo epitomises the kind of modern, luxury development that investors are keen to be profit from and tenants are keen to rent. The high profile development boasts 66 stylish apartments, with projected 6.2% NET yield through Surrenden Invest.

Manchester, along with Birmingham and London, sits among Europe’s 20 largest cities, according to Centre for Cities. Investment opportunities there are attracting both domestic and international interest. Jean Liggett, CEO of visionary property investment consultancy, Properties of the World, offers several opportunities to investors keen to pick up northern real estate. She agrees that contemporary developments with a luxurious feel are prime targets for investors, commenting,

“Northern UK cities offer rich pickings right now when it comes to real estate opportunities. Buyers are looking for something a cut above the average in excellent locations. Popular properties are those that are well located for both local employment opportunities and retail and leisure amenities. Salford Quays is precisely the kind of area that investors can’t get enough of.”

The popularity of design-led apartments such as those at The Element add weight to Liggett’s words. The stylish homes offer urban convenience at every turn, from their prime Salford Quays location to the availability of on-site parking – an important consideration that is often bypassed by such central city developments. Apartments at The Element start from £112,970 and offer 7% NET assured returns for two years.

But it’s not just Manchester’s real estate that has got investors so excited about opportunities in the North. Ray Withers, CEO of Property Frontiers, explains,

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in the property investment opportunities available in Liverpool right now. Liverpool is a growing city and centrally located accommodation that offers something unique is winning over a lot of interest from investors. Liverpool’s prices are still a little below their 2007 peak and a lot of those in the industry are flagging it up as an investment hotspot for 2017.”

Withers cites Parker Street Residences as an example of the kind of property that stands out from the crowd. Located within the central, L1 postcode area, the development has blended the exterior façade of the former Reece’s Ballroom with an ultra-contemporary interior. As well as a low entry point (studios are priced from £69,950 for cash buyers) and yields of 8% NET, investors can enjoy owning their own piece of Beatles history, as Reece’s was the location of John Lennon’s first wedding reception.

International and local investors flock to MIPIM UK every year for just these kind of investment opportunities and the message at the October show from the North of England will be clear: the real estate sector in the North is alive and well.

For more information, please contact:

Surrenden Invest: +44 203 3726 499 or www.surrendeninvest.com

Properties of the World: +44 20 7624 5555 or www.propertiesoftheworld.co.uk

Property Frontiers: +44 1865 202 700 or www.propertyfrontiers.com

“Immediate lift” of Oxford property prices to result from new direct high speed rail connection with London

“Immediate lift” of Oxford property prices to result from new direct high speed rail connection with London

United Kingdom
  • Direct high speed London-Oxford connection to launch on 12 December (Chiltern Railways)
  • Journey time of 60 mins will “make Oxford an even better proposition for commuters” (Property Frontiers)
  • 100,000 new homes required across Oxfordshire by 2031 (Oxfordshire Growth Board)

Oxford-based property expert Ray Withers, CEO of Property Frontiers, has expressed anticipation of an immediate lift in house prices in the city, in light of the news that the new direct high speed rail line between Oxford and London Marylebone will be open and operational from 12 December.

Withers explains,

“The new line will provide an enormous boost to both cities. Everyone in the Oxford area will benefit from improved connectivity and less congestion, and I expect property values in the centre to get an immediate lift as Oxford will be more accessible for those who work near Marylebone/West end.

“We’ve already seen a dramatic upswing in property prices in places like Kidlington near to Oxford Parkway, the most recent station to open on this line and although Oxford has been voted one of the most expensive places to live, I think this will bolster prices further.

“This project promises to make Oxford an even better proposition for commuters and businesses with close links to the capital, but it will also hugely open up central Oxford and the Cotswolds to Londoners to take advantage of the culture and natural beauty on offer here.”

The direct high speed connection between Oxford and London has been eagerly awaited. The railway line took some £320 million to complete and included the opening of Oxford Parkway station in October 2015. The final track installations needed to enable the direct connection to London sought to convert an old branch line into a 100 mph mainline. With the work complete, Chiltern Railway services has been able to timetable the first trains for 12 December, just in time for Oxford’s residents to pop into the capital for a spot of Christmas shopping.

With a journey time of just 60 minutes and two trains per hour, the newly opened line will certainly be an early Christmas present for those living in Oxford and working in London, providing them with an alternative to the oft-congested M40 and A40. The A40 stretch between London and Oxford topped Ultimate Directory’s list of the UK’s busiest roads, alongside the M25. By relieving some of the pressure on the road network, the new train line is tipped to provide a further boost to Oxford’s credentials as a commuter city for the capital (in addition to the city’s own countless charms).

Housing in Oxford is something of a contentious issue. Nobody seems to disagree with the fact that more houses are needed. Oxford City Council’s growth strategy states that 24,000-32,000 new homes are needed between 2011 and 2031, while the Oxfordshire Growth Board has stated that 100,000 new homes are required across the county as a whole in that timescale.

The controversy arises when it comes to planning precisely where to locate those new homes. 14,300 of the new homes needed in Oxford have been assigned to be built in the local authorities surrounding the city, as Oxford itself is struggling to find the space to meet demand thanks to its large swathes of protected land and the need to protect its internationally recognised skyline of ‘dreaming spires,’ as christened by the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold.

The new train line is set to create even more demand for homes in Oxford, with the city expected to return to property hotspot status as a result. House prices in the city have already risen by 27.5% in the past five years, according to Zoopla. With the new train line opening towards the end of this year, homeowners in the city can reasonably expect to look forward to another substantial boost.

For more information, contact Property Frontiers by visiting www.propertyfrontiers.com or calling the team on +44 1865 202 700.

The Midlands Engine meets the Northern Powerhouse

The Midlands Engine meets the Northern Powerhouse

United Kingdom
  • Birmingham investing in the future and maximising the potential of HS2 (PM Theresa May)
  • Midlands economy has expanded 30% since the recession (Midlands Engine)
  • Midlands’ devolution set to benefit residents and investors alike (Property Frontiers)

Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city economy, is going back to its roots and investing in a bright new future. Just as the Industrial Revolution saw the city reshape itself to meet changing times, the creation of the new Midlands Engine is combining with the Northern Powerhouse initiative to boost Birmingham’s credentials and push through a raft of exciting new projects.

Similar to the Northern Powerhouse initiative, the Midlands Engine has been created by the government to boost economic growth across the Midlands. Sir John Peace, the first Midlands Engine chairman, the region’s economy has expanded 30% since the recession and deserves Whitehall’s backing when it comes to shaping a new national industrial strategy as the Brexit process gets underway.

Still almost in incubator stage compared with the Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands Engine is already beginning to draw together the Midlands’ diverse local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and 11.5 million population in order to build a post-Brexit future that serves the region as a whole.

As the region’s leading city, Birmingham is set to enjoy a brighter future as a result of the Midlands Engine. An upgrade to improve the city’s tram system forms part of Sir John Peace’s plans, while foreign direct investment is also pouring in.

Birmingham has some significant regeneration projects planned, with the £900 million investment in the Curzon Street Station area topping the list. The scheme will prepare the area for the arrival of the new HS2 railway network, as part of the Curzon Investment Plan, which will see work take place over the coming three decades, including the creation of several new neighbourhoods.

Prime Minister Theresa May comments,

“I’m delighted that Greater Birmingham is making this investment in the future, working to maximise the potential of HS2 by investing in jobs and housing – and encouraging more business investment.”

At the same time, the chief executives of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Marketing Birmingham, Birmingham Airport, MPs and educational leaders have combined forces to petition the Prime Minister to focus on the expansion of Birmingham Airport rather than simply choosing between an extra runway at Gatwick or an extra runway at Heathrow.

Along with travel infrastructure development that is designed to revolutionise the city, Birmingham is focusing on redesigning its neighbourhoods. The vast Birmingham Smithfield project will see the creation of a fantastic, 21st century market area that will inspire a new generation of traders to honour the city’s ancient retail tradition.

Housing projects are also underway across the city, with investment blending government funds with those of domestic and overseas investors. As an important part of the Midlands Engine, Birmingham is set to benefit from the £1.1 billion promised by Whitehall for the West Midlands Combined Authority as part of the Midlands’ devolution process. The first £36.5 million has just been transferred.

Meanwhile overseas investors are also keen to take an interest. Developments like The Divine Collection, which offers standout buy-to-let apartments in a top location in Digbeth, one of Birmingham’s most popular areas, have attracted keen interest from foreign investors looking for a healthy investment prospect in the UK housing sector.

Ray Withers, CEO of Property Frontiers, which is presenting the Divine Collection to the market from £165,000, comments,

“The benefits of the Midlands Engine will be widespread. This is an exciting initiative that can both follow in the footsteps of the Northern Powerhouse and learn from that process in order to be even more effective. The devolution of the Midlands is creating excellent opportunities for those who live there and for those who invest there.”

For more information about investing in Birmingham’s Divine Collection, contact Property Frontiers or call +44 1865 202 700.

Birmingham lines up post-Brexit housing plan, with a little help from its friends in China

Birmingham lines up post-Brexit housing plan, with a little help from its friends in China

United Kingdom
  • Birmingham population grew 9.5% in past decade (Census data)
  • Country Garden to invest £2 billion in Birmingham projects
  • UK is most popular destination in Europe for FDI (Department for International Trade)
  • HS2 and Birmingham Smithfield redevelopment are key opportunities (Property Frontiers)

As the youngest city in Europe, with 50% of its population under the age of 30, Birmingham is a city full of drive, ambition and entrepreneurialism. This is already clear from the city’s booming life science, creative and tech industries. Now, Birmingham is lining up to show the rest of Britain’s cities how to future-proof against the coming economic uncertainty when the UK finally begins the formal process of leaving the EU.

Birmingham’s attractions as a place to live and work mean that its population is booming. According to Census data, the city’s population grew by nearly 100,000 in the decade to 2015, equating to a 9.5% increase. With people continuing to be drawn to the city, planners believe that 80,000 new housing units will be required by 2030. Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy has taken matters in hand and has just spent a week courting investors in China and Hong Kong.

The trade mission has yielded impressive results, with Chinese property developer Country Garden pledging to invest £2 billion in Birmingham’s economy over the coming years. Housing stock and projects related to the HS2 railway have been identified as top priorities.

Councillor Clancy sees Chinese interest in Birmingham as a key means by which the city will secure its economy (so far as possible) to weather the Brexit storm. He comments,

“There may be a downturn next year, or the year after, there might even be a recession and I want to ensure, like London did last time, that we come out of the recession ahead of the rest.

“For that, we need to have the capital ready to come in and projects ready to go.”

Britain’s uncoupling from the EU may be a painful process for the country’s economy, but investment from overseas can help to soften the blow. Pre-Brexit vote figures from the Department for International Trade have shown that the UK is the most popular destination in Europe for foreign direct investment, with the 2015/16 financial year seeing 2,213 inward investment projects secured, an 11% rise on 2014/15. It is Birmingham’s hope that the continuation of such investment will ease the Brexit process.

Even before the Councillor’s visit to China and Hong Kong, Chinese interest in Birmingham investments was already high. Ray Withers, CEO of Property Frontiers, comments,

“Birmingham is a city packed with potential. It’s not just HS2 that’s drawing investors in. There are some fantastic regeneration projects underway, like the Birmingham Smithfield masterplan, which will see a vast area of the city centre brought up to date, creating a vibrant, modern area for Birmingham’s markets. Chinese investors are keen to be involved in the future of such a leading city and we’ve seen interest in everything from flats to football as part of this trend.”

Property Frontiers’ latest Birmingham development, The Divine Collection, has certainly piqued the interest of Chinese investors: so far 50% of Property Frontiers’ apartments in the building have been reserved by Chinese buyers. Priced from £165,000, the hand-picked selection of apartments offer buy-to-let investors the very best that the development has to offer. Residents will be able to enjoy the 483 sqm roof terrace with city views, as well as their beautifully finished individual apartments in the heart of Digbeth, Birmingham’s most on-trend location.

For more information about investing in Birmingham’s Divine Collection, contact Property Frontiers or call +44 1865 202 700.

Take your September sun to new heights with these terrific terraces

Take your September sun to new heights with these terrific terraces

Portugal Spain United Kingdom , , , , ,

Make the most of this late September sun with a glass of bubbly and stunning views from these terrific terraces.

Herculaneum Quay, Liverpool

Residents will never want to leave these stunning waterfront apartments. Boasting marvelous views over the River Mersey, all apartments feature floor to ceiling glass with outdoor terraces and balconies to relax and take in the exquisite skyline.

Prices start at £107,130

For more information, please visit http://propertiesoftheworld.co.uk/ or call +44 20 7624 5555

Water Lane Apartments, Bristol

Whether you’re relaxing with a book, having a drink with some friends or working on an assignment, Water Lane’s pretty garden terrace allows university students to make the most of the Bristol sunshine. Other wonderful facilities include a private gym, on-site cinema, dinner party room and a club lounge for residents.

Prices start from £160 per week

For more information, visit www.collegiate-ac.com or contact Collegiate AC on +44 1235 250 140

Santa Ponsa Villa, Mallorca

With sunshine all year round and idyllic sea views, this wonderful terrace plays the perfect host for any occasion. Situated in the stunning Santa Ponsa area of Mallorca, the villa boasts 4 large en-suite bedrooms, a living and dining area, fully equipped kitchen, private gardens and a pool.

Prices start at €1,395,000

For further details, visit www.kyero.com

Horizon Golf, Mijas, Costa del Sol

These beautiful homes afford spacious terraces perfect for al fresco dining where residents can enjoy breathtaking views of the prestigious Campo Asia golf course. All properties benefit from communal gardens and a swimming pool where you can enjoy bright Costa del Sol days and warm Mediterranean evenings.

Prices start at €267,000+VAT

For more information, please contact Taylor Wimpey España today on 08000 121 020 or visit http://taylorwimpeyspain.com

The Divine Collection, Digbeth, Birmingham

Soak up the last of the summer sun on The Divine Collection’s private roof garden. The grassy garden is perfect for entertaining friends or taking in a breath of fresh air. Comprised of a selection of 30 hand-picked apartments, The Divine Collection offers sophisticated, elegant homes with a spacious design and luxurious fit out.

Prices start at £159,500

For more information, contact Property Frontiers by visiting http://www.propertyfrontiers.com/ or calling the team on +44 1865 202 700.

Luxury ocean view property, Salgados, Algarve

Prepare for stunning ocean views from this exquisite villa in the popular Salgados. The living areas of this luxurious villa lead out onto the terraces and gardens through floor to ceiling glass doors. On the second floor is a large south facing terrace offering wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean and pretty coastline for miles.

Prices start at €2,250,000

For more information, contact Ideal Homes Portugal on 0800 133 7644 or visit http://www.idealhomesportugal.com