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Despite the current Covid-related challenges, Cardiff is a future-focused city with an exciting story to tell. Offering fantastic quality of life, attracting increasing levels of inward investment, huge amounts of planned infrastructure spend and strong population growth projections. Opportunities lie in facilitating this future growth; there is currently an under supply of high quality city centre office space and the growing population will require additional housing. 

 

Office

Following several years of above trend performance, Covid-19 containment measures have restricted occupier activity in Cardiff and subsequently lowered leasing volumes. The year had begun brightly, with take-up of 64,364ft² registered in the first quarter. Q1 activity was focused out of town, with six deals outside the Central Business District (CBD) accounting for 70% of take-up during the quarter. The largest letting was to Target Group at Eastern Business Park, St Mellons, where the financial services advisor committed to a 12,300ft² refurbished suite. Availability has remained relatively stable in 2020 with Q3 Grade A supply at 191,651ft² and a city wide vacancy rate of 9%. Tenant release space has had a limited effect in 2020 as occupiers have continued to evaluate their occupational requirements but this is expected to increase as businesses implement future real estate strategy. Significant developments currently on site include the Interchange at Central Square prelet to Legal & General, the 107,000ft² first phase of John Street at Callaghan Square being speculatively developed by JR Smart and the refurbishment of Fidelity’s 1 Fusion Point providing 65,000ft² over 3 floors.

 

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As government restrictions took hold in the second quarter, activity reduced markedly as occupiers began to comprehend an enforced work from home policy. Starling Bank’s expansion at Brunel House was the largest deal recorded in a move that will see the firm double their footprint in Cardiff. The first signs of businesses looking beyond the Covid-19 crisis were evident in Q3. Enquiry levels improved and tenants began to formulate their strategy for reoccupation, transition from 100% work from home and plan for future property needs. Legal & General, as Landlord, have had success following their comprehensive refurbishment of Hodge House where Intelligent Ultrasound (7,188ft²) committed to two suites including the pre-fitted Capsule space along with Currency Cloud another new entrant to Cardiff that took to a new 10-year new lease of 6,587ft². There were 15 office deals in Cardiff in Q3 double the count from Q2. Take-up showed a moderate improvement with 42,718ft² leased as the wider economic challenges caused by Covid-19 continued to affect the office sector. To contextualise, total take-up for 2020 (Q1-Q3) has reached 138,213ft², a sharp reduction when compared to 287,009ft² at the same point in 2019.

 

Whilst the pandemic is continuing to have an effect on the overall performance of the office markets across the UK, the commitment of occupiers such as Starling Bank, Intelligent Ultrasound and Currency Cloud offer encouragement in Cardiff. These demonstrate both the opinion of the market on the future role of the office, as well as highlight how Cardiff continues to build a diverse and resilient occupier base. Despite very challenging conditions in 2020, forecasts indicate that take-up activity will rebound in 2021. The fundamentals of the Cardiff market remain balanced with a well-defined core, limited supply of Grade A space, controlled development pipeline and a competitive rental profile when compared to competing UK regional cities. Post-Covid, the high quality of living on offer in Cardiff, the vibrant mixed-used city centre environment and excellent connectivity will be of heightened importance in attracting businesses and staff back into the city centre.

 

Industrial

Despite the uncertainty of the past 12 months, demand for UK Industrial and Logistics space has continued to grow and has fared better than many other commercial property sectors. The forced shift to online deriving from Covid-19 containment has amplified e-commerce and led to rapid growth in demand for last mile / urban logistics. This has placed significant pressure on traditional logistics space in and around town centres. Whilst South Wales is not a main retail distribution market, this changing shift in shopping habits has gathered momentum locally and created new requirements for mid-size units. The lack of good quality stock has not only encouraged logistics operators to consider new build, but also more traditional industrial owners. It is interesting to note that national operators are not baulking at the higher headline rents required, as acquiring the right building in an optimum location is essential to their business.

 

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Development to date has been limited to distribution/last-mile logistic facilities with 50,000ft² developed at St Modwen Park, Newport, which was let to Amazon. St Modwen are currently on site speculatively developing a further 30,000 and 100,000ft² that will be available in 2021. Similarly, Trebor Developments are progressing the speculative development of 46,000ft² at Junction 35, Pencoed and last year Border Group completed the construction of 50,000ft² in Crumlin, Caerphilly that has since been let. In addition, development of smaller workshop and business units of up to 1,500ft² has been continuous. This type of development is typically built in phases and on sites of between 1 and 2 acres. The design and layout of the product, centres on occupiers who do not require large amount of circulation and deep loading yards. Local companies that want to own their own property is the main source of demand for this product and sustained demand is driving up capital values. Many developers though have chosen to retain an interest and units of this type have let well when offered to market. For example, in a development close to Junction 32, six units of between 1,000ft² and 1,500ft². were constructed. Five of the units let before practical completion.

 

Residential

The Residential market, like the majority of industries in the UK came to a sudden and grinding halt at the start of the first Covid-19 lock down. However once the Residential Market was unlocked in June, it has surged to new highs with intense activity across all price bands. The drive has been brought about by prospective buyers reassessing their needs, wants and aspirations which has led to this boom. The pandemic has helped focus people who may have been holding back on their plans for a variety of reasons, the likes of Brexit to name just one. Remote working, now a part of working life due to Covid, is enabling people to seek a better work life balance which can accommodate office and garden space within their Residential dream. As a result, Cardiff remained a property hotspot within South Wales, with an average house price of €309,297 (£264,474). This is well above the Welsh average of €219,114 (£187,361). Cardiff’s popularity as a place to live, combined with an increasing population in the 25-30-year old age group, has resulted in increased demand for housing of all types. The Cardiff Local Development Plan (LDP) was adopted in 2016 that identified several new housing allocations that will deliver approximately 41,000 new homes during the plan period up to 2026. Several of these sites are beginning to deliver new housing units, however most are providing traditional family housing due to the suburban environment, accessibility to good schools and other facilities.

 

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There is a current lack of new build accommodation under construction in the city centre. In recent years, sites that have become available have been largely taken up by developers of student accommodation due to the cost value equation. At present, there are only a handful of active schemes being undertaken by niche operators for open market flatted housing, these include Brickworks, Trade Street (Portabella), Bayscape, Cardiff Bay (The Marine Group), Schooner Wharf, Atlantic Wharf (Morganstone / Cardiff Community Housing Association). With regard to the Build to Rent (BTR) sector otherwise known as the Private Rented Sector (PRS) the proportion of people living in private rented accommodation in the city centre has almost tripled since 2001. The traditional residential property ‘for sale’ market in Cardiff has seen a steady rise in values over the past few years as evidence by the transactions achieving average sales value within the range of €392 (£335) per ft² to the target of in excess of €468 (£400) per ft².

 

Retail

The Covid-19 pandemic forced the temporary closure of non-essential retail stores across the UK in March 2020 and encouraged many shoppers to look at options for home delivery for both essential and non-essential items. The Welsh government imposed a further two-week lockdown in October / November and nonessential retail stores were ordered to close once again. The Office for National Statistics data for September, showed that, across the UK, non-store retailing sales volumes were 36.6% higher in September compared with February, as consumers continued to carry out much of their shopping online. More than a quarter (27.5%) of retail sales in the UK are now online, compared to 19.2% in 2019. The shift to online shopping has been more pronounced in Wales, compared with other regions of the UK. According to a recent YouGov survey, 39% of Welsh consumers are shopping more online than during lockdown. This compares to 27% in Northern Ireland, 32% in England or 36% in Scotland. In Wales, 79% of consumers had 1-3 packages delivered per week during lockdown compared to 69% of English consumers. The most purchased items across Wales during lockdown included home and garden items, followed by alcohol, as well as health, beauty and fragrances.

 

Although Welsh consumers are shopping more online, a recent survey for Visa (conducted in September 2020), found that 78% of shoppers in Cardiff are shopping with local small businesses as much or more since lockdown was lifted – both in person and online. There remains an interest in supporting local businesses and the local community even if customers are reluctant to shop in store. The shift in retail activity from in-store to online is impacting the amount of warehouse space required by retailers. We are already seeing rising demand for space from online retailers across the UK, seeking to expand their networks and capture a share in this growing market. In Cardiff and across the South Wales region, we are seeing rising demand from distribution companies for last mile and urban logistics and this is trend is set to continue.

 

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Analysis by Knight Frank Research shows that every £ billion of online sales requires approximately 1.36million ft² of warehouse space. Compared with other regions of the UK, the shift to online shopping has been even more evident in Wales and this could mean a significant uptick in demand for warehousing space in South Wales, particularly around Cardiff and along the M4 corridor. The South Wales warehousing market offers attractive pricing, relative to other regions of the UK. Despite being a relatively peripheral market, 66% of the UK population reachable within 4 hours HGV drive time (from junction 32 of the M4). Along with Cardiff, this encompasses major population centres including London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. The removal of the Severn Bridge tolls has also helped boost demand in the region. Take up has been limited by a lack of new development and lower quality of stock. However, there has been a rise in development recently, including phase 2 of St. Modwen Park Newport. The development of high-quality industrial and warehouse space will be key to seizing the opportunity in online retail and logistics in order to encourage businesses to locate in South Wales and attracting investment and jobs to the region.

 

Sustianbility

Since 2005, Cardiff’s carbon emissions have reduced in the domestic sector by 38% and in the industrial and commercial sector by 55%. The Welsh Government are committed to the UK target for net carbon zero development by 2050 while Cardiff Council are aiming for 2030. As part of Cardiff Council’s “One Planet” strategy, tree canopy coverage will be increased by 25%, and historic canals in the city centre redeveloped as part of a sustainable water management scheme to avoid flooding. A new solar panel farm opens this month at the former Lamby Way landfill site, this will generate enough energy to power 2,900 homes for 35 years. The council is also planning a low-carbon heat network and would replace gas boilers in major buildings. Cardiff real estate is well positioned to take advantage of this trend. Cardiff developments have been awarded 130 BREEAM certificates, issued since 2008. More than half of these (68) were rated outstanding or excellent. Across all sectors, there are currently 25 schemes in progress across Cardiff that have been designated to achieve BREEAM ratings, 15 of which are designed to achieve Outstanding or Excellent ratings. The largest of these is an extension to Cardiff university post graduate research campus, due to complete in 2021. With Cardiff Council aiming for net carbon zero by 2030, then any purchaser of a new scheme will want it future-proofed to protect their exit values. This policy is promoting sustainable development in Cardiff and providing buildings that align with investor strategies.

 

Final 

Although additional Covid restrictions were put in place, the final quarter of 2020 exampled cautious activity. Office take-up was 166,810ft², the highest quarterly total of the year, whilst investment volumes reached €87.2m (£74.6m), double the 10-year quarterly average. While the temporary closure of non-essential retail stores hit hard on retail commercial estate. it prompted greater demand and hence a promising investment opportunity in logistics sector. Current lack of new build accommodation in the city centre in light of a population growth also suggests further acceleration in development activity in residential sector. 

For more information, please see:

The Cardiff Report 2020 by Knight Frank

UK Cities Cardiff Q4 2020 report by Knight Frank

 

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Leinster’s accuracy proves key as they see off Munster in demolition derby

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Leinster 35 Munster 25

A breathtaking and, it has to be said, physically punishing game, which ebbed and flowed from first to last, ended with Leinster getting more than they needed and Munster coming up short of their targets. Well, to a point.

Munster went into the last game requiring at least two match points for a home quarter-final and a bonus point for the additional carrot of a potential home semi-final.

In the end, they came up with zero, which was perhaps preferable in that it earned them an away quarter-final against Ulster rather than against the Bulls. Even so, the winners of that Irish derby in a fortnight will be away in the semi-finals against the Stormers or Edinburgh.

In the other half of the draw Leinster will host Glasgow in the quarter-finals, and the winners of that tie will have home advantage in the semi-finals.

The mix of requirements made for a thrilling game. Leinster were ultimately the more accurate and pacier side, epitomised by the jet-heeled Jordan Larmour, who made everyone else look like they were being towed and his counterattacking and running led to two of Leinster’s four tries. It was a timely reminder of his abilities, and might well earn him a place on the bench in the Champions Cup final against La Rochelle, who themselves welcomed back Will Skelton off the bench against Stade Francais on Saturday.

Munster’s game didn’t lack for ambition at all, and their similar mix featured classy performances by Thomas Ahern, Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Donoghue and Conor Murray. But they weren’t as accurate or quite as pacey.

This hungry Leinster mix of young and experienced were not in a remotely charitable mood, and shot out of the traps. Harry Byrne’s perfect kick-off was reclaimed by the recalled Ryan Baird and inside 80 seconds Leinster had scored without Munster touching the ball.

Generating trademark quick ball, with Baird making one big carry and Scott Penny a couple, before Ciarán Frawley used an advantage to crosskick perfectly for Penny to gather and use his footwork to step Joey Carbery and finish in the corner.

Harry Byrne didn’t land the difficult conversion, but added a penalty before offloads by Kendellen and Ahern and a couple of nicely weighted grubbers to the edges by Murray and Carbery earned an attacking lineout. The first scrap followed too. Yep, derby on.

Attacking wide and through phases, Munster used an advantage when Carbery pulled the ball back as Keith Earls worked across from his wing and flung a peach of a left-hander for O’Donoghue to take Cormac Foley’s tackle and finish well in the corner.

Leinster’s Rory O’Loughlin on his way to scoring a try despite Keynan Knox and Mike Haley of Munster during the United Rugby Championship match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Leinster’s Rory O’Loughlin on his way to scoring a try despite Keynan Knox and Mike Haley of Munster during the United Rugby Championship match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Next, after Frawley’s spillage, the recalled Andrew Conway chased Murray’s perfectly weighted kick to prevent Larmour gathering, Niall Scannell’s gallop earning another attacking lineout.

Again Munster engineered another free play, and after a strong carry by Kendellen from Murray’s pass behind his back, Mike Haley was sharply on hand to pick up and dive over under the posts.

The force was with Munster, all the more so after Conway cleanly reclaimed another box kick by Murray. But when Kendellen kicked through Larmour beat the flanker’s follow-up tackle and left a trail of four more forwards in his wake before being tackled by Murray. From the recycle, Jamie Osborne stepped and Frawley took a superb line on to his short pass for a clean break and had Foley in support. The 22-year-old showed the quickness from his formative years as a centre with St Gerard’s to complete his first Leinster try on his home debut, and some try too.

The game’s first scrums provided an almost welcome breather. Frawley, after his two sumptuous try assists, had to depart for one of several failed HIAs in the game, and didn’t return.

The lively Earls then countered with Haley, Carbery and Kendellen before Rob Russell’s deliberate knock-on prevented the ball reaching three unmarked players and earning him a yellow card. But Baird spoiled the Munster lineout to protect his side’s 15-12 lead until the interval.

But on the resumption Munster struck. Haley chased his own kick, preventing Osborne from gathering cleanly and Murray was sharply on to the loose ball to skip away from Foley’s tackle and score.

Harry Byrne brought it back to a one-point game after Foley’s high tackle on Josh Murphy, and although Munster were clearly now mindful of the chance for a fourth try when going to the corner, before accepting a tap over penalty to push them four points ahead.

Typical of this match, back came Leinster. First Foley executed a 50:22 and despite just changing their frontrow the maul was gathering speed when it collapsed and Frank Murphy adjudged it a penalty try and sinbinned Niall Scannell.

After Max Deegan’s covering tackle on the ever dangerous Chris Farrell into touch, a lovely launch play and a flatish pass by Foley for Joe McCarthy’s carry over the gainline, was the prelude to Leinster reloading right and another slaloming run by Larmour. An offload by McCarty and fine pass by Deegan created the space for Rory O’Loughlin to use a two-on-two and a mismatch with the covering Kenyan Knox to score.

Suddenly it was 32-22 to Leinster.

A spellbinding spell of offloading featuring Murray, Ahern, O’Donoghue and Kendellen ended with Earls finishing off O’Donoghue’s offload, but Murphy adjudged it forward. Instead, Munster had to opt for another Carbery penalty to complete the first task of getting to within one score before chasing a fourth try.

They became over exuberant and conceded penalties, and although Adam Byrne was brilliantly denied by Carbery and Haley, Harry Byrne’s penalty put them 10 ahead, and more relevantly left Munster without anything from the game and looking at a quarter-final away to Ulster.

They had eight minutes or so to do it. They conjured one punishing phased attack, Carbery’s one-handed pick-up and Murray deliberately knocking on with a penalty advantage and then quickly were two of the highlights, but when Carbery prematurely went wide with a looped pass to Jack Daly he was tackled into touch by Osborne.

And that was effectively that.

SCORING SEQUENCE – 2 mins: Penny try 5-0; 9: Byrne pen 8-0; 12: O’Donoghue try 8-5; 17: Haley try, Carbery con 8-12; 23: Foley try, Byrne con 15-12; (half-time 15-12); 41: Murray try, Carbery con 15-19; 46: Byrne pen 18-19; 49: mins Carbery pen 18-22; 51: penalty try 25-22; 54: O’Loughlin try, Byrne con 32-22; 61: Carbery pen 32-25; 71: Byrne pen 35-25.

LEINSTER: Jordan Larmour; Rob Russell, Jamie Osborne, Ciarán Frawley, Rory O’Loughlin; Harry Byrne, Cormac Foley; Ed Byrne (capt), Seán Cronin, Thomas Clarkson; Joe McCarthy, Josh Murphy; Ryan Baird, Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

Replacements: Adam Byrne for Frawley (27 mins), John McKee for Cronin, Peter Dooley for Byrne, Cian Healy for Clarkson (all 49), Devin Toner for J Murphy (55), Ben Murphy for Foley (58), Alex Soroka for McCarthy (66), David Hawkshaw for H Byrne (76).

Sinbinned: Russell (37-47 mins).

MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Josh Wycherley, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Thomas Ahern; Fineen Wycherley, Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Donoghue (capt).

Replacements: Jason Jenkins for Kleyn (49 mins), Keynan Knox for Ryan (54), Jeremy Loughman for J Wycherley, Rory Scannell for Goggin (both 55), Diarmuid Barron for Kendellen (58-61), for Scannell (61), Jack Daly for Ahern, Ben Healy for Carbery (both 64), N Scannell for Kendellen (65), Ahern for Daly, Patrick Patterson for Murray (both 76).

Sinbinned: N Scannell (51-61 mins).

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU).

URC quarter-finals (Fri, Jun 3rd & Sat, Jun 4th)
1 Leinster v Glasgow Warriors
2 DHL Stormers v Edinburgh
3 Ulster v Munster
4 Vodacom Bulls v Cell C Sharks
 
Semi-finals (Fri, June 10th and Sat Jun 11th)
Leinster or Glasgow v Bulls or Sharks
Stormers or Edinburgh v Ulster or Munster.
 
Shield winners 2021/22:
Irish Shield:
Leinster
South African Shield: DHL Stormers
Welsh Shield: Ospreys
Scottish & Italian Shield: Edinburgh
 

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Aparto debuts in Spain

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Aparto has unveiled its first student residence in Spain to open in September 2022. Aparto Barcelona Pallars, owned by Commerz Real, is located in the 22@, the city’s innovation district, and accommodates 743 beds covering 26,000m². The cutting-edge facilities at aparto Barcelona Pallars include an external circa 45-metre length infinity pool, a 900 square metre rooftop terrace, 2,500m² of gardens including the Butterfly Garden (named because of the type of plants that attract butterflies), the Smell Garden (due to the mixture of aromatic plants), 1,400m² of amenity space including a gym with a weight, cardio, and yoga studios, two cinema rooms, leisure areas, and a bar offering both food and drink services.

 

In addition, a central feature of aparto’s offering is its first-class experience with a focus on the arts including an initiative in which street artists will design some of the paintings on the building, and a mental health programme available to all students all year around, strengthened by aparto employees receiving mental health training to identify anyone who may need help. 

 

aparto Barcelona Pallars has been designed by the Catalonian architecture studio Battle i Roig, a pioneer in landscape architecture, interweaving structures with natural spaces like gardens. Upon construction completion, the building will receive the LEED Gold and WELL Platinum Certifications for sustainability. 

 

aparto offers students a unique safe study experience and flexible model offering medium and long-term stays, from a few months to a full year, with all-inclusive rates including cleaning, Wi-Fi connection, linen services, and some additional features related to sports and wellness sessions, cocktail and cooking classes, and a series of entertainment evenings including movie nights, sports matches and tournaments. Aparto’s focus is to create places where students feel at home living within a strong community.

  

Tom Rix, director of operations at aparto, UK, commented: “With Aparto Barcelona Pallars, Hines is introducing first-class student housing in Spain. Pallars mirrors what today’s students want in terms of facilities, amenities, community engagement, and wellbeing programmes. We have already successfully demonstrated that this innovative model is in high demand in Italy, Ireland, and the UK and we anticipate the same success here in Spain and can’t wait to welcome students to Barcelona.”

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Crossrail house price boom: Reading, Maidenhead and Slough set to become property hotspots

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Crossrail may be billions of pounds over budget and three-and-a-half years late but it’s finally ready to roll.

This extraordinary feat of engineering is due to be put into service on Tuesday, when it will adopt its correct title of the Elizabeth Line. 

The Queen made a surprise visit to Paddington station this week and officially opened the line.

On the line: The Thames flows through Maidenhead, which will now enjoy a direct link to Central London thanks to its new Crossrail station

On the line: The Thames flows through Maidenhead, which will now enjoy a direct link to Central London thanks to its new Crossrail station

Linking Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east with Heathrow and Reading to the west of the capital, it will bind together existing commuter railways, accelerating cross-city travel and relieving overcrowding on the London Underground — particularly the often hellish Central Line.

Commuters’ journey times will be slashed; Reading to London Liverpool Street, for example, will take under an hour.

When fully operational it will increase London’s rail capacity by 10 per cent, making it the largest single expansion of the city’s transport network in more than 70 years.

There are still a few glitches to be ironed out. Initially passengers travelling from Reading in the west to Abbey Wood and beyond will have to change at Paddington or Liverpool Street mainline stations. 

Also Bond Street is three months behind schedule. Trains will not call there until later in the year. Yet these delays pale into insignificance when you consider how the Elizabeth Line will transform rail travel in the capital.

Cross town: The Elizabeth line will run east to west across London, starting in Berkshire and ending in Essex

Cross town: The Elizabeth line will run east to west across London, starting in Berkshire and ending in Essex

The new station at Paddington, for example, is the size of three Wembley football pitches, with natural light as far as the platform entry from a nearly 400ft-long glass canopy.

More than £1 billion has been spent on upgrading 31 existing stations and tracks. Spacious tunnels will lead to airy 600 ft platforms, with glass screens at the edge of the tracks, making it impossible to fall under a train. 

Step-free access from street to train will make the service accessible to wheelchairs. 

The nine-car, air-conditioned trains will have colourful bench seats and open interiors with full-width walk-through connections between cars. It will be a world away from today’s cramped, cluttered carriages.

Few engineering projects change the way we live but The Elizabeth Line promises to do just that. People are already flocking to the new stations.

Research from Savills last year found that, over the past five years, homes within 0.6 mile of about half of the stations on the line have increased in price by 25 per cent or more.

It follows that when the sleek and airy new trains come into service, delivering people to their workplaces in double quick time, we can expect a migration to the west of London.

Here are the hotspots:

Reading revival

Outlay: More than £1bn has been spent on upgrading 31 existing stations and tracks

Outlay: More than £1bn has been spent on upgrading 31 existing stations and tracks

Not so long ago Reading was best known for its brewery and its biscuit factory — not any more. 

International companies, including Amazon UK, Virgin Media and KPMG have moved there and with reasonably priced homes, compared to London, the town is already popular with commuters.

‘I recently dealt with a young woman who sold her 750 sq ft flat in London for £600,000 and bought a 1,750 ft duplex in Reading for £650,000,’ says James Hathaway, of Winkworth estate agents.

The town has lots of green space, riverside walks, the Grade II-listed Thames Lido and great shopping, notably in Broad Street and the Oracle centre. The average price of a home sold in Reading was £384,000 last year.

Compare that to the £512,000 average price in, say, East London and you will see why an exodus from the capital is forecast when the Elizabeth Line makes commuting a doddle.

Maidenhead marches on

This Berkshire town is keen to attract the City bankers who had previously been put off living there by having to trek across the capital’s underground system to get to work.

‘The Elizabeth Line changes all that and buyer enquiries have already started booming,’ says Dawn Carritt at Jackson-Stops estate agents.

‘The prospect of living near the river in Maidenhead or in nearby villages such as Sonning and Bray is appealing.’

Maidenhead (with Theresa May as its MP) is on the cusp of a revival. Its 1960s shopping centre is to be transformed into The Nicholson Quarter, a swish mixed-use centre.

The area by the river is being developed and trendy cocktail bars and restaurants such as Coppa Club are thriving — a sure sign of a town on the up.

Slough expansion

Ricky Gervais did Slough no favours when he set The Office there. Yet the town has a lot going for it. It is well located for travel, nestling between the M4 and the M40 and within easy reach of the M25 and Heathrow airport.

First-time buyer portal Share to Buy claims that Slough has been one of the UK’s top ten property hotspots over the past decade with a 73 per cent increase in house prices. 

The Berkeley Group is redeveloping the former Horlicks factory and site to create 1,300 homes.

A small flat sells for £150,000 and a three-bed terrace house for £350,000. The centre is being improved and with the coming of the Elizabeth Line, things can only get better.

On the market… the hotspots 

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