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In recent decades Cambridge has been among the standout performers for residential property price growth and has a strong claim to be one of the UK’s premier residential markets, according to the latest research by Savills. Cambridge house prices have risen 241% since 2001 according to Land Registry – just 1% less than London over the same period, and well ahead of the rest of the East of England. Recent performance in the city has been somewhat weaker, however, despite boosts from the stamp duty holiday. Values in Cambridge rose by 3.8% in the year to June 2021, somewhat lower than the national average of 6.2%. Cambridge’s spectacular historic growth has become a double-edged sword for the city. It is one of the least affordable housing markets in the country, limiting market activity and future value growth. 

 

A key challenge for the city will be how it continues to grow and adapt to changing requirements without losing that rich character. One of those key challenges will be a significant demographic shift. Oxford Economics predicts the numbers of residents aged over 60 will grow by 29% between 2021 and 2031. The population aged 25–59 is expected to fall by 12%. This is a direct consequence of the city’s unaffordability, as younger households cannot afford to move into or stay in Cambridge. As the current population ages, Cambridge will see fewer economically active households. Well-targeted policy and development will be required to attract and retain these younger households within the city itself, rather than settling further out. Losing these types of households could have negative consequences for footfall and therefore the retail and leisure offering within the city centre.

 

“At their peak in 2018, house prices were an eye-watering 13.5 times greater than local average earnings – higher than London’s figure of 12.3 at the time,” commented Lawrence Bowles, Director, Residential Research at Savills. This means the city struggles to attract younger and less affluent workers – including key workers. These households often have to find accommodation outside of the city itself, putting greater stress on infrastructure. The greater number of long-distance commutes also has environmental implications. Providing either suitable accommodation in the city or suitable and sustainable transport options into the city must be a priority going forward.

 

The stretched affordability in the city has resulted in a strong rental market. Rents have grown 4.1% in the city in the 12 months to August 2021, compared to 1.6% in London. “There are three Build to Rent schemes in the pipeline, which we expect to deliver around 550 rental homes. This will help increase the tenure and housing options within the city, supporting its continued growth and development,” said Steven Lang, Director, Commercial Research at Savills.

 

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Office

The economic foundations of Cambridge’s high-performing residential market are solid.Employment and productivity is very strong in the city, with total employment expected to grow by 9% over the next ten years. This growth will be driven by further expansion in the already well-established science, tech, IT and professional services sectors.  Unemployment between 2010 and 2020 averaged only 4.5%, compared to 5.9% nationally. The productivity figures are even more flattering: after 20 years of stellar productivity growth – 24% ahead of the national average – Cambridge had closed its productivity deficit with London from 20% in 2001 to just 4% in 2020. According to Oxford Economics forecasts, Cambridge is due to overtake London in value added per worker in 2022, and achieve a 6% lead by 2030. 

 

This growth, supported by several major office deals, has underscored Cambridge’s appeal to employers. Software provider MathWorks moved into their new 93,000ft² premises at Cambridge Science Park earlier this year, marking the scheme’s biggest deal for over a decade. And Huawei has reaffirmed its commitment to building a new research and manufacturing facility in Sawston. Additionally, Blackstone portfolio company BioMed Realty also plans to deliver approximately 800,000ft² of high-quality purpose-built lab space, following the acquisition of two new sites in Cambridge.

 

The demand for commercial office and laboratory space in Cambridge remains buoyant. The obvious turbulence of 2020 did not dampen take-up, which was broadly in line with the five-year average. 2021 has progressed in a similar way with some significant deals signed, or in an advanced stage, that will further reduce the supply of available space in the city. Going forward, Cambridge will have a severe lack of new stock under construction, which will conflict with the continued hunger from occupiers of all sizes. Additionally, older stock cannot provide a solution as it may fail to meet occupiers’ ESG requirements, including Carbon net zero. This exacerbates the potential supply ‘crunch’ in the short to medium term. Accoridng to Savills, this may result in lesser attractiveness of Cambridge to occupiers as their requirements cannot be met in the city.

 

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Health sector

Throughout 2020, the pandemic focussed occupiers’ and commercial property investors’ attention towards the human health sectors. This appetite and interest has continued throughout 2021 and shows no sign of tailing off. For Cambridge specifically, with a rising interest in human health and wellbeing from the software, mobile and technology sectors, which have a significant presence in Cambridge, it has also created another future layer of demand that will emerge in the next few years. Commercial property investor interest has also continued to grow at an unprecedented rate, where we are aware of new entrants entering the market on an almost weekly basis.

 

“The appetite for Cambridge’s office and laboratory market continues to grow as the City increasingly becomes one of the world leaders in life science, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and engineering,” said Lawrence Bowles, Director, Residential Research at Savills. These key drivers behind the investor interest are anticipated to produce significant rental growth predicated by expansion of the occupier base due to huge flows of capital being raised by companies of all scales, the academic spin-out through to the later-stage venture capital. These indicators, combined with a severe shortage of supply in Cambridge, highlights the need and creates the key ingredients for future development growth.

 

The pandemic also raised investor interest levels in more alternative types of commercial property. In particular, the laboratory market, where occupancy and utilisation rates were considerably higher than in traditional offices through lockdown, increased the interest of investors. This heightened interest was also supported by the considerable level of capital being raised – particularly venture capital – by companies that then require laboratory space.

 

Of course, despite research and development (R&D) property historically sitting within the offices’ use class, there are significant differences between the specification of laboratory and office property. Despite this, it has been interesting to see how quickly investors have become comfortable with the wider types of R&D investment property that caters for very different end-users compared to a traditional office.

 

 

For more information, please see:
Cambridge: Thriving on Innovation by Savills
Shifting demographics pose a challenge for Cambridge by Savills

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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The house that Poundland bought: Moated manor complete with a swimming pool and a museum about the budget chain that was owned by late founder Keith Smith goes on the market for £7.75m

A stunning manor that was bought by the late founder of Poundland has gone on the market for £7.75million.

The nine-bed refurbished Jacobean mansion in Claverley, Shropshire has its own swimming pool and features a museum dedicated to the budget chain. 

Keith Smith launched the discount chain in 1990 with his son Steve and together they grew the enterprise to over 70 stores before selling it for £50million in 2002.

Mr Smith, who grew up in nearby Willenhall, bought Ludstone Hall in 1997 with his Poundland profits upon returning to the UK.  He died in 2022, aged 79, after a short battle with cancer and his wife Maureen passed away a few months later.

Now, his son Steve and his siblings are selling his late father’s beloved home for £7.75million. 

Ludstone Hall dates back to Medieval times but the current property was built in 1607 for the Whitmore family. The estate stayed in the family until 1867 and has only had a handful of owners since.

Steve Smith (pictured) at the moated manor home which his parents bought in 1997

Steve Smith (pictured) at the moated manor home which his parents bought in 1997 

The Poundland museum which is located inside Ludstone Hall

The Poundland museum which is located inside Ludstone Hall 

One of the dining rooms in Ludstone Hall which was owned by co-founder of Poundland Keith Smith

One of the dining rooms in Ludstone Hall which was owned by co-founder of Poundland Keith Smith 

The home is now on the market for £7.75million

The home is now on the market for £7.75million

The swimming pool located inside the manor home in Shropshire

The swimming pool located inside the manor home in Shropshire 

Poundland's co-founders Steve and Keith Smith pictured together

Poundland’s co-founders Steve and Keith Smith pictured together

The manor has period features such as mullioned windows, panelled reception hall, stone fireplaces and the remarkable survival of the original lead rainwater goods.

The main house has over 8,000 sq ft of accommodation including four reception rooms, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and extensive cellars. 

A leisure complex at the rear includes the swimming pool with retractable floor, a handmade oak bar, separate dining area and a hot tub under a raised platform.

There is a two-bedroom gate lodge on the grounds and a number of outbuildings, including a coach house that the Smiths converted to create a museum to the history of both the estate and Poundland.

The formal gardens include box hedging, lawns, squash court, the moat, raised terraces, a lake and an orchard.

Steve Smith (pictured) outside his parents' home in Claverley, Shropshire

Steve Smith (pictured) outside his parents’ home in Claverley, Shropshire 

The main house has over 8,000 sq ft of accommodation including four reception rooms, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and extensive cellars

The main house has over 8,000 sq ft of accommodation including four reception rooms, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and extensive cellars

The kitchen area inside the property which has an island and a chandelier

The kitchen area inside the property which has an island and a chandelier 

One of the living rooms in the property which boasts period features

One of the living rooms in the property which boasts period features 

A luxurious main double-bedroom at the home which features a four-poster bed and fireplace

A luxurious main double-bedroom at the home which features a four-poster bed and fireplace

A Poundland store in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey

A Poundland store in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey

After leaving school, Keith Smith worked as an apprentice draughtsman before running a market stall and the Hooty’s cash & carry in Willenhall, Walsall. 

When his son Steve turned 18 and wanted to launch a business of his own, his father gave him the idea of starting up a shop where everything was £1.

With a £50,000 loan from Keith, the pair co-founded Poundland, with the first shop opening in Burton upon Trent, in Staffordshire.

Steve, 61, said: ‘When my parents came back to the UK they wanted to find a home where they would never want to move from, and they certainly found that at Ludstone.

‘My mum and dad really loved their time at the estate which can be seen in the amount of money they invested in the property – it really is the home that Poundland built.

The home was bought in 1997 by Keith Smith with his Poundland profits

The home was bought in 1997 by Keith Smith with his Poundland profits 

Mr Smith and his wife Maureen spent £7million on a major refurb of the nine bedroom Jacobean mansion

Mr Smith and his wife Maureen spent £7million on a major refurb of the nine bedroom Jacobean mansion

The swimming pool which is located underneath the floor

The swimming pool which is located underneath the floor

A bridge across the moat which surrounds the stunning property in Claverley

A bridge across the moat which surrounds the stunning property in Claverley 

‘One particular investment they made was installing the swimming pool. They wanted to have a big party for the millennium so had one with a retractable floor installed so that the room could also be used to host events.

‘Living locally myself, I have some really happy memories of their time here. I used to bring dad the broken sweets we couldn’t sell and he’d feed them to the cows that he kept in the grounds. The cows were sold to a supermarket chain who said that it was the sweetest meat they’d tasted.

‘We’d also hold charity events and open up the museum to visitors and raised thousands of pounds for local good causes over the years.

‘The property holds so much historic significance, and has only had a handful of owners since it was built. We’re now keen to see the property go to a new family who can make their own memories here.

‘While the Ludstone Hall Estate section of the museum will remain at the property, we’ll also be donating all of the Poundland memorabilia to Poundland so that they can preserve the history of the company.’

Ludstone Hall is being sold by estate agents Fisher German.

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Inside two stunning British sea forts heading to auction with a guide price of £1m

If you are fed up with troublesome neighbours, poky rooms and congested streets, a solution could be at hand. 

There are not one, but two, unique island sea forts going up for auction on Savills later this month on 18 June.

No Man’s Land Fort, located in the waters off the Isle of Wight, and Spitbank Sea Fort, nestled in the waters of Portsmouth Harbour, each have a guide price of £1million ahead of this month’s auction. 

It could be yours: No Man's Land Fort has a guide price for auction of £1m

It could be yours: No Man’s Land Fort has a guide price for auction of £1m

Robin Howeson, head of Savills Auctions, said: ‘Throughout my career as an auctioneer I’ve seen several sea forts hit the market that have achieved impressive prices as buyers have sought to pursue these trophy assets. 

‘Having been carefully restored by the current owners, No Man’s and Spitbank Fort represent exceptional market value, each guided at £1million. 

‘Both offer an opportunity like no other; a waterfront location, up to 99,000 sqft of space and a chance to champion the heritage and legacy of these iconic maritime structures.’

On the potential to add value to the forts, Howeson told MailOnline: ‘The avenues to add value to either Fort would depend on the intended end use. 

‘Previous planning permission exists to add a helicopter pad to Spitbank Fort, and a full marina with additional helicopter pad to No Mans Fort, making these structures more accessible to both owners and visitors. 

‘There would also be the opportunity to go green with the instalment of tidal power generators, or to convert the forts into a variety of other uses.’

Let’s take a closer look at the two sites going up for auction.

Wow factor: No Man's Land Fort is going up for auction via Savills on 18 June

Wow factor: No Man’s Land Fort is going up for auction via Savills on 18 June 

Stunning: No Man's Land Fort is secluded but remains easily accessible

Stunning: No Man’s Land Fort is secluded but remains easily accessible

Space matters: No Man's Fort comes with roughly 99,000 sq. ft. of space

Space matters: No Man’s Fort comes with roughly 99,000 sq. ft. of space

Divine: No Man's Land Fort boats panoramic views and could be yours to enjoy

Divine: No Man’s Land Fort boats panoramic views and could be yours to enjoy

Room with a view: No Man's Land Fort already has 23 ensuite bedrooms

Room with a view: No Man’s Land Fort already has 23 ensuite bedrooms 

Plush: The bathrooms on No Man's Land Fort have been finished to a high standard

Plush: The bathrooms on No Man’s Land Fort have been finished to a high standard

Charming: The bedrooms on No Man's Fort have been individually designed

Charming: The bedrooms on No Man’s Fort have been individually designed 

Fun times: No Man's Land Fort has a host of eating and drinking spaces available

Fun times: No Man’s Land Fort has a host of eating and drinking spaces available 

Where's the party? No Man's Land Fort is home to a myriad of event spaces

Where’s the party? No Man’s Land Fort is home to a myriad of event spaces 

Located off the Isle of Wight, No Man’s Land Fort is a Victorian island fort which has already been transformed into self-contained luxury private accommodation. 

Within this secluded yet accessible location, you will not be short of space. There is approximately 99,000 sq. ft. of space on offer, with old-world charm incorporated seamlessly with modern amenities. 

Boasting panoramic views, the site is already operating as a hotel and event space, and there’s significant potential to add further value. 

At present, the four-storey fort has 23 ensuite bedrooms, crew quarters, multiple bars and restaurants and a number of multi-purpose rooms, which are ideal for events like weddings and parties. 

The fort comes with a helipad in place and two landing stages for visitors by sea. 

The lowest level of the fort has been converted into entertaining space including laser battle, while the roof deck provides further facilities including hot tubs, a fire pit, bar and Nordic bothy. 

The newly opened Lord Nelson Pub, The Cabaret Bar nightclub and additional entertaining spaces are located on the upper and lower levels of the fort. 

The fort is fully self-contained with its own private water source in the form of an artesian well and comes equipped with marine generators, and sewage treatment plant. 

The site can be sold fully furnished, if desired. 

Privacy at last: Spitbank Sea Fort is great for privacy-seekers wanting easy mainland access

Privacy at last: Spitbank Sea Fort is great for privacy-seekers wanting easy mainland access

Outlook: Spitbank Sea Fort is close to the hub of Portsmouth Habour

Outlook: Spitbank Sea Fort is close to the hub of Portsmouth Habour 

Sit back and chill: Spitbank Sea Fort has roughly 33,000 sq. ft. of space

Sit back and chill: Spitbank Sea Fort has roughly 33,000 sq. ft. of space 

Yes please, captain: Spitbank Sea Fort is currently home to nine plush guest bedrooms

Yes please, captain: Spitbank Sea Fort is currently home to nine plush guest bedrooms

Retreat: The accommodation on Spitbank Sea Fort has been finished to a high standard

Retreat: The accommodation on Spitbank Sea Fort has been finished to a high standard

History: Spitbank Sea Fort's circular design was predominantly crafted from granite, brick and stone

History: Spitbank Sea Fort’s circular design was predominantly crafted from granite, brick and stone

Wine time: Enjoy panoramic views from the bar at Spitbank Sea Fort

Wine time: Enjoy panoramic views from the bar at Spitbank Sea Fort 

Event space: Spitbank Sea Fort has multiple event spaces available

Event space: Spitbank Sea Fort has multiple event spaces available 

Take a dip: Spitbank Sea Fort has a hot pool and a sauna on offer

Take a dip: Spitbank Sea Fort has a hot pool and a sauna on offer

Nestled in the waters off Portsmouth Harbour, Spitbank Sea Fort boasts approximately 33,000 sq. ft. of space and 15ft thick granite fort walls. 

The fort was constructed in the 1860s as part of a trio of forts to safeguard Portsmouth against potential naval threats from French ironclad warships.

It has been meticulously transformed into self-contained private accommodation. 

The site is currently home to nine high-end guest suites, a 60-covers restaurant, crew quarters and multiple event spaces. It is licensed for weddings. 

Subject to planning consent, the potential for alternative uses is available, including, Savills suggests, using the site as a casino, an ‘ultra private residence’, corporate offices or converting it into individual flats. 

Prospective buyers will also be pleased to hear that the fort also comes with a wine cave, roof terrace, sauna, hot pool, fire pit and sun decks. 

As with No Man’s Land Fort, Spitbank Sea Fort comes equipped with a private water source from an artesian well, marine generators for power and a sewage treatment plant. Furnishings can be negotiated, according to Savills. 

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