Property report: Noisy neighbours drive demand

High-demand hotspots are appearing in Lancashire’s housing sector, thanks to their location on the doorstep of its big city neighbours.

Noisy neighbours

Shared boundaries with Manchester and Liverpool are creating greater demand for homes within commuting distance of the two cities - with Chorley and West Lancashire benefitting in particular.

Paul Walton, director at PWA Planning, says: “We’re seeing a big Greater Manchester influence on Lancashire’s development hotspots. Areas with a relatively easy commute into Manchester are popular.

“Chorley is the main location where we’re seeing high demand for new sites, due to its rail and road links with Manchester. Chorley is one of the few areas in the region seeing a significant increase in future housing requirements.”

A similar phenomenon is also taking place in towns and villages in West Lancashire.

“Locations such as Ormskirk, Aughton and Burscough are proving increasingly popular, as Liverpool’s physical and economic  regeneration gives it more of a pull,” says Paul.

Stuart Carter, associate director at Anderton Gables, agrees that developments with efficient connections – especially around the M6, M61 and M55 – are being boosted by the commuter market.

“There has also been significant appetite seen in Central Lancashire and the Forest of Bowland due to the area’s natural beauty and close proximity to motorway links, such as the M6 and M65, providing greater opportunity to people looking to spread out from Manchester,” says Stuart.

Demand for new residential development in the Ribble Valley and Preston areas is high,  according to Caroline James, director at Trevor Dawson. “Ribble Valley’s popularity continues to deliver quality schemes which remain popular,” she says.

She points to David Wilson’s scheme at Monks Cross, Whalley, a proportion of which was sold off-plan prior to completion.

“Preston, while slightly behind in completions, is catching up quickly with improvements in infrastructure – particularly to the north, with unprecedented levels of new build. South Ribble and Pendle continue to be popular destinations and I expect this to continue over the next few years.”

We find it hard to successfully develop in towns when better sites are close to the greenbelt
Tim Webber, chairman and managing director at Barnfield Construction, agrees that Ribble Valley is an enduring hotspot, with areas of east Lancashire, including Colne, Barrowford, Worsthorne and the outskirts of Blackburn proving popular.

Tim says: “We find it hard to successfully develop residential properties in towns when better sites are available close to the greenbelt. People do have a choice and prefer to live on or near greenbelt land.”

However,  some experts are concerned that popular areas may not have the services and facilities to cope with the rising demands of ongoing development.

“There has been a considerable number of planning permissions granted in the Ribble Valley, in particular around Clitheroe,” says Brent Forbes, director at Petty.

“If all these are completed you could question whether there will be the infrastructure to cope in terms of schools, highways and general services.”

While location is clearly key to the creation and longevity of development hotspots, other factors are also at work.

“Proximity to good schools and a range of leisure facilities are always main attractions for new housing developments for us,” says Andrew Darbyshire, land director at McDermott Homes.

“Also, it’s important to have good road networks close by – and having a rail link into Manchester is another a key driver.”

Paul says: “In the short term, I think the current hotspots will remain popular.

Longer term, the plans for the expansion of the HS2 rail link could have an impact in the region, with areas around Cuerden to the south of Preston becoming popular.

“The new road and transport infrastructure in the county could also have a big impact, particularly the new M55 junction planned at Bartle, which will make parts of East Fylde much more desirable because of the quicker journey times,” adds Paul.

Stuart foresees the emergence of a hot market in Preston, following significant development and investment in the city.

“We are seeing initial high levels of interest, with large developers and other residential providers already developing north of Preston, and looking to expand their portfolio into what is becoming a booming city,” he adds.

Caroline believes Blackburn will continue to make significant progress following a number of innovative schemes, such as Wayne Hemingway’s Green Hills development, delivered by Kingswood Homes, with its village greens and emphasis on community.