AG look into the North West Housing crystal ball
Over recent years the usual North/South housing trend has been reversed with northern cities such as Manchester and Preston being seen amongst the new property hotspots.
Manchester has clearly boomed but many feel that the supply in Manchester is close to outstripping demand – leading to the wider marketplace being looked at. We can confirm this, with current appointments on the delivery of over 800 new build homes in Lancashire.
Has anyone noticed the increased interest in investing in Preston city centre - with significant residential schemes underway around Winckley Square? Former council offices being converted to apartments to encourage the ‘city living’ which will breath more life into the centre.
The same increased interest exists in the likes of Wigan, Blackpool, Oldham and Rochdale. Another area to watch is Cumbria with a high demand for affordable and shared ownership housing due to the unaffordable ‘Lakes’ prices. The coastline in particular needs homes and will need even more if Sellafield gets a new power station.
However, it is much documented that the planning system is underdelivering and is not currently able to meet the 300,000 new homes that Britain needs to build every year. Furthermore, the housing charity Shelter says 1.2 million homes are needed for younger families who cannot afford to buy and "face a lifetime in expensive and insecure private renting" – private housebuilders are asked to provide a proportion of affordable homes on their sites, but this can be reduced due to ‘viability assessments’.
Many housing associations are stepping up to provide these homes with ambitious development programmes – rapidly making them major players in the developer space. We have seen (and encouraged) the growth of Joint Ventures with developers and contractors which allows associations to deliver projects which otherwise may have been out of reach. AG acting for both parties in reaching ‘true’ JV developments whereby both the client and contractor share equally in the risk and inevitably collectively in the reward.
This focus on collaborative working is becoming more common and AG’s Joint Venture Consultancy facilitates these collaborations and promotes development partnerships – also providing the on-site contract service.
Whether its private Housebuilders, Housing Associations or a Joint Venture they take the path of least resistance where possible. Unfortunately, most of the available ‘easy’ sites have already been developed, so we are seeing far more complicated sites coming forward - at AG we are proud to say clients bring us in when the site is more complex. For example, on one of our brownfield sites 80,000m3 of peat was removed prior to the delivery of 166 residential units!
We believe the coming years will see the increased use of modular buildings and their increased sophistication – is the future that we’ll order a bespoke house off the shelf? Just like we can with a car. Very likely – so rather than a tan leather sports seats and a Bose sound system it could be laminate flooring and heat source heating pump please….