It’s great to see Leeds city centre sitting in fifth place in a new league table showing the best places in the country to work, rest and play.
Although those of us who live and work here already know what a great a place Leeds is, it’s fantastic that it’s now been made official in Experian’s ‘vibrancy list’. Experian analysed 75 urban areas and looked at lots of factors including housing types, economic activity and the professional status of residents to determine where the UK’s young, affluent and vibrant populations are living.
The report highlighted the level of demand for leisure and entertainment in Leeds as well as the city’s low unemployment rate and high number of purpose-built apartments within the urban area of Leeds, which covers a 1km radius from the city centre.
However if Leeds is to maintain or even improve on its position in this table, we will need to significantly increase the number of apartments available in the city. Morgans manages Leeds city centre’s largest portfolio of apartments and we’re currently experiencing our highest ever occupancy figures which stand at over 99%.
Leeds gained an unfair reputation as the ‘empty flats capital’ of the North in 2008 but as we predicted, as supply has dried up and demand has continued to grow, occupancy levels have risen and we are now urgently in need of the next generation of new schemes.
Currently there are only one or two new schemes in the pipeline for Leeds city centre over the next two years. What we need is more development in core locations that offers tenants something unique.
Rushbond’s recent success at Crispin Lofts in the city’s Northern Quarter is a prime example of the sort of scheme the city needs. They took a striking building, which had been derelict for over 10 years and we let all 80 apartments within a matter of months and we urgently need more build to rent schemes like this to meet tenant demand.
Leeds has really hit the headlines in 2013 for all the right reasons with the opening of the Leeds Arena and Trinity Quarter and it’s important that the residential property market keeps pace.
We don’t want to be in a position where a lack of available rental property becomes more than just a short term frustration. Plus there’s a lot of competition, especially when you look at the top of the table and see another Northern city – it’s a place over the pennies that begins with an ‘M’!
This spectacular split level penthouse apartment is situated within a Grade II listed former wool mill in the heart of the city. The apartment was originally planned as two apartments however they were knocked together and the property is now believed to be the largest penthouse in Leeds.
The apartment includes three impressive en-suite bedroom suites all with built in wardrobes and accessed from a mezzanine landing. The apartment also comes with a study, a large well equipped breakfast kitchen with plenty of storage and two secure allocated parking spaces. Double doors lead into an open plan living/dining area with original windows, a feature fireplace, sunken sitting area and high ceilings throughout.
19 Wellington Street is located in the West End of Leeds with all the shops, bars, restaurants on its doorstep, it’s also just a two minute walk from the train station. The apartment is on the market for £699,000 and includes two car parking spaces.
Leeds gained an unfair reputation as the ‘empty flats capital’ of the North in 2008, but as we predicted, as supply has dried up and demand has continued to grow, occupancy levels have risen and we are now urgently in need of the next generation of new schemes.
Currently there are only one or two new schemes in the pipeline for Leeds city centre over the next two years. What the city needs is more development in core locations that offer tenants something unique. With the average tenant now renting for much longer periods, developers need to concentrate on creating appealing homes in some of the city’s better buildings and locations.
Rushbond’s recent success at Crispin Lofts in the city’s Northern Quarter is a prime example of the sort of scheme the city needs. They took a striking building, which had been derelict for over 10 years and we let all 80 apartments within a matter of months and we urgently need more build to rent schemes like this if we are to meet tenant demand.
The recent large scale investment in the city’s leisure and retail facilities will encourage more residential construction in the heart of the city. Leeds has really hit the headlines in 2013 for all the right reasons with the opening of the Leeds Arena and Trinity Quarter and it’s important that the residential property market keeps pace.
We don’t want to be in a position where a lack of available rental property becomes more than just a short term frustration. The detractors who labelled Leeds the empty flats capital of the North have been well and truly put in their place and we look forward with a great deal of confidence in what is now one of the most vibrant places to live North of London.
The German themed festival will be held in the grounds of New Headingley Club and will feature beer, bands, food and family entertainment throughout the entire weekend. Beers and ciders will be on sale from a wide range of local breweries including Ridgeside, Kirkstall, Wharfebank, Osset, Goode Eye, Old Bear, Roosters, Salamander and Saltaire and there will also be a selection of carefully selected German and world beers available. A number of local bands and singers will be performing throughout the weekend.
Last year was the first Headingley Beer Festival and it was a huge success attracting thousands of visitors over the weekend. This year it promises to be even better and as a prominent local business, that’s operated in Headingley for more than 16 years, it’s a great event for us to be involved with.
Chris Hill, one of the organisers of Oktoberfest says: “Last year completely outstripped our expectations and attracted people from across Leeds and beyond. The feedback about the beer, music and food was fantastic and this year we’re confident that we can produce an even better event at a superb venue that offers spacious grounds, space for a marquee as well as a bar and events room which will ensure it’s a success regardless of the weather.
“The event will have a German theme and entry will be free for anyone dressing up as a German – although we want to see more effort than just a token football shirt! Plus we’ll be serving up a delicious selection of German sausages alongside our more traditional range of pies, burgers and vegetarian options.
“To attract sponsorship from local businesses is also a major coup and we’re delighted that Morgans has come on board again to offer their support.”
Tickets are priced at just £2 and the event starts at 5pm on Friday 11th October and will be open from 12noon to 12am on the Saturday and until 11pm on the Sunday. To book tickets in advance visit www.headingleybeerfestival.co.uk
There’s been a lot in the news recently about the recovery of the housing market with the RICS recently reporting the sharpest price rises since November 2006 and a number of other pieces of research pointing to a surge in buy-to-let investment.
More good news comes as first time buyers appear to be leading the charge and all of this evidence begs the question – what happens now? There are a number of initiatives in place at the moment that are designed to stimulate the market and it will be fascinating to see how these play out if this growth proves to be sustainable.
One such initiative is the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme which launched in April and enables homebuyers with a deposit of 5%, to borrow an additional 20% of the purchase price of a new build property from the government. The loan is interest-free for the first five years.
This is now going a step further with the government opening the scheme up to existing homeowners looking to buy either new build or resale properties with an asking price of up to £600,000.
There’s already lots of controversy around this because although it offers buyers a fantastic opportunity, if the housing market’s recovery continues, an expensive catalytic initiative to drive the market even further could result in another ‘bubble’.
Our experience in Leeds city centre is that sales activity continues to hold up. The upturn we have experienced has now lasted a full year and demand is coming from a wide range of buyers with a very strong mid-market between £150,000 and £200,000. The number of repossessions coming to the market appears to be falling with demand for each one rising and the sales prices are markedly higher as a consequence.
These improvements in the sales market have also resulted in more debate about the trend towards renting and how permanent it is. It’s claimed that 20% of the population currently rents and as buyers return to the market this figure is likely to fall, although it probably won’t go as low as the 11% or so who were renting before the housing market collapsed.
All of the anecdotal evidence we have seen leads us to believe that Britain is no less a nation of home-owners than it was 10 years ago. Although circumstances have conspired against lots of would be buyers, long-term renting still does not sit well with most Brits.
Its great news that after just 18 months of work restarting on the major refurbishment programme to create 82 stunning apartments in Leeds city centre, Crispin Lofts is now fully let making the development one of the city’s biggest success stories in recent years.
Standing on the corner of North Street and New York Road, the building had previously sat in a partially developed state for more than 10 years before Leeds based developer Rushbond acquired the building and created Leeds city centre’s biggest ever ‘built-to-rent’ scheme.
We were appointed to let and manage the development and were delighted with the pace that these homes have let. It’s a sign of the times in a market with little development activity and huge demand from tenants looking for high quality rental property. When this is combined with a historic building in a great location and smart well-furnished interiors, Rushbond’s ‘built to let’ scheme ticks all the boxes.
The apartments and the culture of this super building are a very new offer – an authentic urban home, with a very high standard that will create a long term community. We were always confident that this development would strike a chord with tenants looking for a special place to call home and we already have a waiting list from people wanting to move in as and when apartments become available again.
Our client Jonathan Maud from Rushbond thinks that the building’s character and history, high ceilings, tall windows and exposed brickwork are ideally suited to authentic city apartment living which meant it offered lots of potential and was an ideal development for Rushbond to put its mark on and transform into something very special.
Many of the apartments are split level, with mezzanine decks, high ceilings and huge windows which flood the space with light. Nearly every apartment is different to its neighbour and each one is furnished to an exceptional standard to create some very distinctive loft style apartments. These range from studios through to stunning three bedroom triplex penthouses, covering more than 1,000 square feet, which are undoubtedly some of the best apartments in the North of England.
The building was built in 1915 as home to Henry Heaton’s Clothing Company and then HW Poole & Sons Boot and Shoe Manufacturers. Both were distinguished Leeds based businesses and major employers in the city – even today there are still lots of people in Leeds who worked there.
Our sales figures have improved month on month since August 2012 and we have sold more apartments in the city in the first three months of this year than we did in the first six months of last year.
Plus a poll of UK property surveyors by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has revealed that property values recently rose to their highest levels in almost three years. The research also found that government measures to support the housing market had spurred demand.
Our region and the city centre market especially are mirroring the findings of the RICS report. Five years ago Leeds gained the undeserved nickname of the ‘empty flats capital of the North’ but Leeds has held up well despite the downturn and the revival we are experiencing is a direct result of an increase in both confidence and finance availability with investors and owner occupiers keen to purchase again in the heart of the city.
We have seen a 100% increase in enquiries from a wide group of buyers including young professionals, investors keen to take advantage of the buoyant rentals market, parent purchasers helping to get their children on the ladder and lots of mature owner occupiers. Properties in the £100,000 to £250,000 price range that are in tried and tested locations are most popular.
The opening of Trinity Leeds and the forthcoming First Direct Arena have really helped to reinforce Leeds city centre’s position as one of the UK’s leading destination cities and the property market is definitely benefiting from that.
There’s an important and historic part of Leeds city centre that tens of thousands of people pass through every day, without ever stopping to visit, but the area is changing quickly and it could soon become one of the city’s key destination areas.
In the next couple of years the South Bank area of Leeds is set to be transformed following a string of announcements in recent months.
The South Bank includes the former Tetley Brewery, New Lane, Bridge End and Asda House. It’s a vital link between the traditional City Centre core and the Riverside to the north, Holbeck Urban Village to the west, the Aire Valley to the east, and residential communities of Beeston Hill and Holbeck to the south.
When Tetley’s closed its Leeds brewery in 2011 it was sad for the city to say goodbye to such a famous institution – not to mention the wonderful smell of hops and fermenting beer that graced the city’s air every so often!
However just recently there’s been lots of noise coming from the South Bank and things are taking shape there, starting with the former Tetley HQ which, in just a couple of months, will be attracting a new generation and hosting a wide array of cultural events.
The building, aptly named ‘The Tetley’, is managed by Project Space Leeds, and will be a new contemporary visual arts centre for the city. Funding for the scheme is supported by the Arts Council England and as part of the work, which is due to complete during September, the building is being converted into gallery and community spaces as well as event, retail and cafe areas.
Alongside this is the Hunslet Stray project which is set to reopen a historic route through the old brewery site for pedestrians and cyclists up Hunslet Road. The route will link the Hunslet and South Bank areas with the city centre and provide a green and pleasant thoroughfare that will be a great alternative to walking along the busy roads in the area.
Another major announcement for the area came last month when Leeds College of Building revealed it was investing £15 million to create a new state of the art education and training facility on land at Hunslet Lane and Black Bull Street. This comes as Leeds City College prepares to open a new campus later this year at the former Alf Cooke Printworks on Hunslet Road.
The proposed new Leeds trolleybus route will pass nearby making it even more accessible and data centre operator AQL have announced plans to spend a massive £43 million building a new data centre in the area.
Hunslet Stray has the potential to become the key linkage to South Bank and New Dock which will benefit greatly from all the investment in the area. Look out for South Bank!!
With the doors now open at Trinity Quarter, all eyes are now on therecently named First Direct Arena, which is set to open this summer as part of a hugely exciting year for Leeds.
The Arena is already a major landmark for the city and as you head towards it from any direction its multi-coloured skin of aluminium panels complete with hexagonal windows certainly make it stand out from the crowd.
When you see it at night, it’s a different story again. Using a combination of illuminated tracery, throbbing back-lit mesh and spotlights shining through the windows, the building can change colour or pattern depending on the arena’s show or mood!
Such a mesmerising building is already driving other regeneration and investment projects in the area with the likes of Hilton Hotels recently announcing plans to build a £32m five star hotel nearby.
The Arena also benefits from an innovative design style that uses a staggered fan shape, rather than the conventional horse shoe seating arrangement that you find in most venues. This means it offers perfect views from every one of its 12,500 seats and nobody will be more than 68 metres from the stage, which compares to about 100 metres in lots of other arenas. This ‘super-theatre’ layout will be the blue-print for new arena around the world.
With these credentials it’s no surprise that American Billboard magazine says it’s the most exciting venue to open in the world this year and it will definitely be part of the reason why Bruce Springsteen made a ‘special request’ to try out the arena in a one-off show as part of his Wrecking Ball world tour. This kind of publicity is great for Leeds and is raising the city’s profile internationally.
With the likes of Elton John and a whole host of other world class acts set to follow in The Bos’s footsteps, the hotels, restaurants and bars of Leeds could soon be rolling out the red carpets, which raises another question – where will ‘The Boss’ go for dinner and where will he stay? With the new Hilton not opening until 2015, will he opt for the city’s bright lights or go for a haven or tranquillity in the Yorkshire countryside?
Whatever he decides at least Leeds will finally have a venue it has lacked since 1989 when the much loved Queen’s Hall was demolished.