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Fort Belvedere where Edward VIII signed abdication was considered as home for William and Kate

It was the beloved home of the monarch who gave up the throne so he could marry a divorcee.  

Fort Belvedere became the main residence of the future King Edward VIII in 1929, when he was the Prince of Wales. 

Situated in Windsor Great Park, within a short drive of Sunningdale Golf Course and Windsor Castle, the property was built after the infamous Jacobite rising in 1745. 

The Grade II listed home, which was converted into a country retreat by King George IV in 1827, was adored by Edward and it was where he signed his abdication papers in 1936 after just 11 months on the throne.  

Edward was forced to give up his position because he insisted on marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson. 

Fort Belvedere, which is currently occupied by the billionaire Weston family but is still owned by the Crown Estate, is believed to have been considered by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as a base amid reports that they are set to move to Windsor this summer. 

Whilst Edward’s former home is said to have been ruled out, along with Prince Andrew’s Royal Lodge, sources claimed yesterday that the couple have also considered Frogmore Cottage, the former home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Prince William and Kate are said to be setting to make the move to Windsor so that they can be closer to the Queen. 

Fort Belvedere became the main residence of the future King Edward VIII in 1929, when he was the Prince of Wales. Above: The exterior of the property pictured in 2006

Fort Belvedere became the main residence of the future King Edward VIII in 1929, when he was the Prince of Wales. Above: The exterior of the property pictured in 2006

The home, which was converted into a country retreat by King George IV in 1827, was adored by Edward and it was where he signed his abdication papers in 1936 after just 11 months on the throne. Pictured: Edward and Wallis at Fort Belvedere before he abdicated

The home, which was converted into a country retreat by King George IV in 1827, was adored by Edward and it was where he signed his abdication papers in 1936 after just 11 months on the throne. Pictured: Edward and Wallis at Fort Belvedere before he abdicated 

Fort Belvedere was built in the 18th century after the failed attempt by ‘Young Pretender’ Charles Edward Stuart to gain the throne for his father James Francis Edward Stuart.  

Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII: A scandal that rocked a nation

January 1931 – Wallis meets Prince Edward in January 1931, after being introduced via her friend Lady Furness

1931- 1934 – The American divorcee and the heir to the throne see each other regularly at various parties 

August 1934 – Wallis admits she and Edward are no longer just friends, after joining him on a cruise 

January 1936 – King George V dies. Edward asks Wallis to watch the proclamation of his accession with him from St. James’s Palace

August 1936 – The pair enjoy a cruise around the Adriatic sea with friends. Details of their relationship appear in the American press

December 11, 1936 – Edward announces his abdication

June 3, 1937 – The couple get married in the south of France. Wallis was formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, but was not allowed to share her husband’s title of ‘Royal Highness.’   

It was built for Prince William Augustus, who was the younger son of King George II. 

The fort once boasted several cannons used in the Jacobite rising.  

A dining room and other facilities were added when it was converted into a country retreat by George IV.

From then onwards, the fort was used as a saluting battery for royal birthdays and important royal events. 

Over the decades, the contingent of gunners based at the fort was reduced, until the last remaining soldier died in 1910. 

During Queen Victoria’s reign, the building was used as a tea house in the summer months  

Edward rescued the building from falling into decay and spent significant sums of his own money to enlarge and improve the original building. 

He installed a swimming pool, a tennis court and even a Turkish bath. 

The future king also had his own aeroplanes and private landing area near the fort, where he held lavish parties. 

Photos showed him posing outside the property with Mrs Simpson, whom he had begun a relationship with in the early 1930s. 

Edward’s relationship with Wallis, who had been twice married before her union with him, was a scandal when news first emerged of it.

His proposition to marry her – whilst divorce proceedings with her second husband were still ongoing – sparked a constitutional crisis which culminated in Edward’s decision to abdicate.

It also destroyed his relationship with his mother Queen Mary,  his brother the future king, and sister-in-law Queen Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother.

Stanley Baldwin, the then Prime Minister, traveled to Fort Belvedere to see Edward in the days before he made his decision to abdicate.  

The night before he stood down as king, Edward dined with his brother the Duke of York, who would go on to become King George VI. 

Fort Belvedere, which is currently occupied by private tenants, is believed to have been considered by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as a base amid reports that they are set to move to Windsor this summer

Fort Belvedere, which is currently occupied by private tenants, is believed to have been considered by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as a base amid reports that they are set to move to Windsor this summer

Edward rescued the building from falling into decay and spent significant sums of his own money to enlarge and improve the original building. Above: The property at the time of Edward's abdication

Edward rescued the building from falling into decay and spent significant sums of his own money to enlarge and improve the original building. Above: The property at the time of Edward’s abdication

One of the bedrooms inside Fort Belvedere is pictured above in 1976, when it was occupied by private tenants

One of the bedrooms inside Fort Belvedere is pictured above in 1976, when it was occupied by private tenants

Fort Belvedere was built in the 18th century after the failed attempt by 'Young Pretender' Charles Edward Stuart to gain the throne for his father James Francis Edward Stuart. The fort once boasted several cannons (pictured in 1929) used in the Jacobite rising

Fort Belvedere was built in the 18th century after the failed attempt by ‘Young Pretender’ Charles Edward Stuart to gain the throne for his father James Francis Edward Stuart. The fort once boasted several cannons (pictured in 1929) used in the Jacobite rising

Aerial view of the Duke of Windsor's grade II listed - Fort Belvedere. This Gothic revival residence in Windsor Great Park is where the Abdication was signed in December 1936

Aerial view of the Duke of Windsor’s grade II listed – Fort Belvedere. This Gothic revival residence in Windsor Great Park is where the Abdication was signed in December 1936

Edward installed a swimming pool, a tennis court and even a Turkish bath at Fort Belvedere when he was given it by his father in 1929

Edward installed a swimming pool, a tennis court and even a Turkish bath at Fort Belvedere when he was given it by his father in 1929

The Duke and Duchess featured on the cover of LIFE Magazine together in 1950. The DUke wore a smart striped suit whilst the Duchess donned glamorous jewellery for the photoshoot

The Duke and Duchess featured on the cover of LIFE Magazine together in 1950. The DUke wore a smart striped suit whilst the Duchess donned glamorous jewellery for the photoshoot 

Wallis described in her autobiography how she received hate mail. She wrote: 'There can be few expletives applicable to my sex that were missing from my morning tray'. Pictured: The Duchess in 1936

Wallis described in her autobiography how she received hate mail. She wrote: ‘There can be few expletives applicable to my sex that were missing from my morning tray’. Pictured: The Duchess in 1936

The couple on the day of their wedding in 1937

Edward’s proposal to marry Wallis – whilst divorce proceedings with her second husband were still ongoing – sparked a constitutional crisis which culminated in Edward’s decision to abdicate. Above: The couple on the day of their wedding in 1937

After the Second World War, Edward and Wallis spent most of their time socialising and traveling between their Paris home and the US.  Pictured: The pair arriving in Britain in 1967 for a visit as guests of the Queen

After the Second World War, Edward and Wallis spent most of their time socialising and traveling between their Paris home and the US.  Pictured: The pair arriving in Britain in 1967 for a visit as guests of the Queen

The Duke's abdication, which occurred in December 1936, rocked the monarchy and the country to its core. Above: Edward giving his abdication broadcast to the nation from Windsor Castle

The Duke’s abdication, which occurred in December 1936, rocked the monarchy and the country to its core. Above: Edward giving his abdication broadcast to the nation from Windsor Castle

Reporters are seen at the gates of Fort Belvedere during the abdication crisis in 1936. Edward had to abdicate because he insisted on marrying divorcee Wallis Simpson

Reporters are seen at the gates of Fort Belvedere during the abdication crisis in 1936. Edward had to abdicate because he insisted on marrying divorcee Wallis Simpson

A dispatch rider brings the Abdication Bill to Fort Belvedere for King Edward VIII to sign. King Edward ceased to be King at 1.52 on December 11

A dispatch rider brings the Abdication Bill to Fort Belvedere for King Edward VIII to sign. King Edward ceased to be King at 1.52 on December 11

The Instrument of Abdication of King Edward VIII, 10th December 1936. It was signed by himself and his three brothers, Albert (George VI), Henry (Duke of Gloucester) and George (Duke of Kent) at Fort Belvedere in Berkshire

The Instrument of Abdication of King Edward VIII, 10th December 1936. It was signed by himself and his three brothers, Albert (George VI), Henry (Duke of Gloucester) and George (Duke of Kent) at Fort Belvedere in Berkshire

The following day, on December 11, 1936, the Daily Mail reported that Edward ‘signed the instrument of abdication at 10 a.m. to-day in his study on the ground floor of Fort Belvedere.

‘At the signing took place the flag of the Duchy of Cornwall over the fort was lowered and later it was run up again to the masthead.

‘Crowds gathered at both the main gates of Fort Belvedere early in the day, and at 10 o’clock the three Royal Dukes arrived separately to play their part in the last act of one of the most dramatic sequences in history. 

‘At the time none of the spectators knew that the Princes had come to witness the signing oft eh abdication of their brother. ‘ 

His three brothers were there to witness Edward sign the abdication notices.  

After Edward’s abdication, he is reported to have been very upset when his brother, the new king, refused to renew the warrant allowing him to occupy Fort Belvedere.

By then, Edward and his new wife, whom he married in 1937, were living in France. 

Fort Belvedere on Shrubs Hill in Windsor Great Park, Surrey, UK, 12th June 1963. It was then lived in by Gerald and Angela Lascelles

Fort Belvedere on Shrubs Hill in Windsor Great Park, Surrey, UK, 12th June 1963. It was then lived in by Gerald and Angela Lascelles

The fort is seen when it was occupied by King Edward VIII. In the two decades after Edward left, Fort Belvedere remained largely empty

The fort is seen when it was occupied by King Edward VIII. In the two decades after Edward left, Fort Belvedere remained largely empty

In the two decades after Edward left, Fort Belvedere remained largely empty, but was used during the Second World War as a base for the the Office of the Commissioners of Crown Lands, who had been evacuated from their central London offices. 

The home was later lived in by Gerald Lascelles – a grandson of King George V – and then Canadian billionaire Galen Weston. The property is still occupied by the Weston family, who are close to the Royal Family. 

According to The Sun, William and Kate have ruled out royal mansions, including Fort Belvedere, as they look for somewhere in Windsor. 

The Queen is reported to have made Windsor Castle her permanent home and main residence, meaning the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be much nearer to her if they make their move. 

A source told The Sun that the need for the couple to move to Windsor with their children is growing ‘more and more’ due to the fact that the disgraced Prince Andrew ‘spends a lot of time’ with the Queen.

They told the newspaper: ‘There is not a man, woman or child who would not say he had every right to be at Philip’s thanksgiving. But the family have been adamant there’s no way back.

‘There are real fears that despite being banished from The Firm in January, he is using his closeness to the Queen as a springboard back into public life.’

Andrew was forced to step back from public life following his settlement of a sexual assault case with accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre. 

WHO WAS WALLIS SIMPSON AND HOW DID SHE SHAPE THE ROYAL FAMILY? 

Born in 1896 in Pennsylvania, Wallis moved to London in 1931 after marrying her second husband, shipping executive Ernest Aldrich Simpson.

She struck up a friendship with Lady Thelma Furness who was the mistress of the then Prince of Wales. 

Over the course of 1931, the Simpsons were gradually absorbed into Edward’s social life, spending frequent weekends with him at Fort Belvedere, his 18th-century home in the grounds of Windsor Great Park. 

The turning-point in the friendship came in January 1934, when Thelma sailed off for a visit to the United States. According to Wallis, Thelma said laughingly, ‘I’m afraid the Prince is going to be lonely. Wallis, won’t you look after him?’  

As the pair grew closer, he wooed Wallis with gifts of jewellery as well as money to buy clothes and other luxuries. 

At Edward’s insistence, Wallis, wearing a tiara borrowed from Cartier, was formally presented to his parents, King George V and Queen Mary. The meeting, at which few words were exchanged, was not a success.

Born in 1896 in Pennsylvania, Wallis moved to London in 1931 after marrying her second husband, shipping executive Ernest Aldrich Simpson

Born in 1896 in Pennsylvania, Wallis moved to London in 1931 after marrying her second husband, shipping executive Ernest Aldrich Simpson

Outraged to have to receive ‘that woman in my own house’, the King gave orders that Mrs Simpson was not to be invited to any of the Silver Jubilee functions being planned for the following year, nor to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.

As news of the affair spread, the Duchess of York — later Elizabeth, the Queen Mother — declared openly that she would no longer meet Mrs Simpson and would beat a hasty retreat whenever ‘that woman’ walked into the same party.

In 1936 Edward ascended the throne after the death of his father George V. He made clear his intentions to marry Wallis as soon as her second divorce came through.

It caused a national scandal and the Church of England decreed he couldn’t marry a divorcee with two living former husbands.

Wallis went to live in exile in France to escape the pressure, and in December 1936 Edward abdicated so they could marry, assuming the lesser title of Duke of Windsor.

The King abdicated, signing off his brief reign with a broadcast that referred to ‘the woman I love’. 

When the Duke died in 1972, Wallis became something of a recluse and was rarely seen in public before her death in 1986, at the age of 89. She was buried alongside her husband at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House, Windsor

When the Duke died in 1972, Wallis became something of a recluse and was rarely seen in public before her death in 1986, at the age of 89. She was buried alongside her husband at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House, Windsor

Simpson received abusive and hostile hate mail and was accused of being a Nazi sympathiser. 

In 1937, she and Edward went to Germany to meet Hitler, before the atrocities of the Second World War, with her husband keen for her to experience the pomp and ceremony of a royal tour, denied to Wallis in England. 

Edward become governor of The Bahamas between 1940 and 1945, and the couple lived out the rest of their days enjoying the life of high society figures.

However, she never lost her affection for Ernest Simpson, her beloved second husband and her friends and confidantes have since said that she never wanted to divorce him. 

Significantly, she kept writing to him and these intimate letters, which have only come to light in recent years, reveal that Wallis was beset by fears and regrets over how her life had turned out. 

When the Duke died in 1972, Wallis became something of a recluse and was rarely seen in public before her death in 1986, at the age of 89. 

She was buried alongside her husband at the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House. 

Frogmore Cottage, one of the properties in the grounds of the estate, is where Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle lived before they moved to California last year.

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Culture

European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

— Contact us: info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous submissions: press@VoiceOfEU.com

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Can’t Afford A House In UK? Move To Germany!

Grand Designs star Kevin McCloud has told first time buyers if they can’t afford to buy a house ‘move to Germany’.

The TV presenter advised young people looking to get on the property ladder to abandon their hopes of buying a house in the UK and instead ‘move to another country where the housing market is healthy’.

He told the news website JOE that almost every other North European country and Canada have got ‘really healthy markets, lots of diverse opportunities, lots of diverse offers and it isn’t hugely expensive’.

The 64-year-old said: ‘My advice is move to Germany, maybe that’s the way forward.’

McCloud also took aim at ‘immoral’ housing developers, who he claims now make on average £68,000 profit per house or per flat, compared to 2009, when the figure was ten times less.

Have YOU moved to Germany? Email chris.matthews@mailonline.co.uk

Houses in Germany costs just £232,941 on average. Meanwhile, a pint of beer costs just £2.14 in Germany, while on average in England a pint is £4.21

Houses in Germany costs just £232,941 on average. Meanwhile, a pint of beer costs just £2.14 in Germany, while on average in England a pint is £4.21

Grand Designs star Kevin McCloud who has told first time buyers if they can't afford to buy a house 'move to Germany'

Grand Designs star Kevin McCloud who has told first time buyers if they can’t afford to buy a house ‘move to Germany’

The TV presenter (pictured) advised young people looking to 'move to another country where the housing market is healthy'

The TV presenter (pictured) advised young people looking to ‘move to another country where the housing market is healthy’

First-time buyers purchased 33% of homes sold in the UK so far this year, marking an all-time high

First-time buyers purchased 33% of homes sold in the UK so far this year, marking an all-time high

Houses of a residential area are seen from above in Frankfurt, Germany (File image)

Houses of a residential area are seen from above in Frankfurt, Germany (File image)

McCloud also took aim at 'immoral' housing developers, who he claims now make on average £68,000 profit per house or per flat, compared to 2009, when the figure was ten times less. Pictured: Homes along a street in London (File image)

McCloud also took aim at ‘immoral’ housing developers, who he claims now make on average £68,000 profit per house or per flat, compared to 2009, when the figure was ten times less. Pictured: Homes along a street in London (File image)

He claimed the average profit ‘big housing developers’ now make every time they sell a house or flat was ‘about £68,000’, ten times what it was in 2009.

McCloud added: ‘They’ve shifted their focus from volume and meeting government targets to the profit they deliver to their shareholders.

‘Persimmon, the year before last made £1.1 billion of profit for their shareholders, 25 per cent of their turnover.

‘I’ve only got one word for it and I think it’s immoral.’

Speaking about the state of the UK housing market, McCloud said: ‘I look at the UK market and I see nothing good here.

‘I look at what’s happening in Germany, Holland, Netherlands, Denmark, Scandinavia, I look at other, almost every other North European country and Canada – they’ve got really healthy markets, lots of diverse opportunities, lots of diverse offers and it isn’t hugely expensive.’

Foreigners can buy properties in Germany with relative ease.

Even since Brexit, people from non-EU countries can borrow up to 60 per cent mortgages.

Not all banks offer expats mortgages. DKB and Santander are two that do but having even a temporary residence may improve a person’s chances.

An extensive report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) concluded that Britain’s development sector is ‘warped by decades of housing market volatility, the departure of local authorities from the housebuilding sphere, and cuts to capital grant that collectively could have insulated the development market from significant shocks’.

The report claims that ‘the UK has both a pro-cyclical housing and development marke’.

The IPPR said: 'Germany has traditionally kept much tighter controls on mortgage lending, meaning that in order to access home ownership, German households have had to save up for longer periods of time than their British counterparts'

The IPPR said: ‘Germany has traditionally kept much tighter controls on mortgage lending, meaning that in order to access home ownership, German households have had to save up for longer periods of time than their British counterparts’

House prices in Germany have historically been far more stable than those in Britain

House prices in Germany have historically been far more stable than those in Britain

England's trend of ownership is in stark contrast to Germany, where many more people rent

England’s trend of ownership is in stark contrast to Germany, where many more people rent

In Germany, the professional sector of people and companies that own property to let it out, is much more invested in the market (37 per cent) than in the UK (18 per cent)

In Germany, the professional sector of people and companies that own property to let it out, is much more invested in the market (37 per cent) than in the UK (18 per cent)

Traditionally, Germany has a much higher rate of housebuilding compared to the UK

Traditionally, Germany has a much higher rate of housebuilding compared to the UK

It added: ‘By contrast, Germany is in a stronger position: its mortgage market has been more tightly regulated and consequently its market (and economy) is less vulnerable to economic downturns; and housing construction is undertaken by a far greater number of actors, including large housebuilders but also, crucially, many smaller, regionally based actors and a significant not-for-profit sector (both within and outside public ownership).

‘The two countries utilise the powers of government in quite different ways. In Germany, although private enterprise is crucial in housing finance, housing development and management of stock, the state, locally and nationally, plays a far more ‘interventionist’ role – in regulation (for instance, of rents and of the mortgage market), in land assembly, and in housing development itself (albeit often through locally owned companies).

‘However, in the UK, although the parameters of policy are set by government, the trend is towards stepping back the role of the state in housing provision, and then becoming active when markets cannot achieve satisfactory outcomes (for instance by providing mortgage guarantees, or through the provision of housing benefit to households unable to afford their rent).’

The latest Nationwide house price index showed house prices fell slightly in March, with a 0.2 per cent decline in the average property value.

The monthly decline was down to seasonal adjustment – which aims to smooth out months that are typically more and less active – whereas the non-adjusted average house price actually rose slightly from £260,420 in February to £261,14 in March.

It means the typical home, according to Nationwide’s data, has edged up 1.6 per cent annually, with headline figures dragged back by southern England’s stuttering property market.

On the same day, Halifax also reported property prices fell in March, reflecting the first monthly fall since September 2023.

The major mortgage lender revealed the average home price fell 1 per cent last month, following five consecutive months of rises.

Despite reports’ focus on headline house price figures, the UK housing market doesn’t just move as one.

A graph showing the average percentage growth in in house prices across the UK

A graph showing the average percentage growth in in house prices across the UK

This map of annual house price changes across the UK shows the North-South divide. House prices are rising in the north and falling in the south

This map of annual house price changes across the UK shows the North-South divide. House prices are rising in the north and falling in the south

It is made up of thousands of local markets that will all be performing differently from one another.

These differences can even be seen at a regional level where there is evidence of a North-South divide opening up. Prices are generally rising in the North and falling in the South.

The average house price during the first three months of 2024 in Northern Ireland, for example, is up 4.6 per cent year-on-year, according to Nationwide.

Prices in Scotland are 3.7 per cent higher over the past three months than they were during the same period in 2023.

And in the North of England the average home is up 4 per cent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year.

Prices in the South West are down 1.7 per cent compared to this time last year and prices in East Anglia are 1.3 per cent lower.

Housing experts have claimed that ‘predatory’ investment funds are taking advantage of the British housing market, keeping families paying rent for longer.

There was £1.3billion of private investment in British new builds last year and almost two fifths came from American funds.

Housing expert David Hall told MailOnline: ‘It’s no surprise at all that it’s a business model for a lot of the funds and pension funds and gives them some semblance of certainty and assurance.

‘It is going to price people out of the market. These are investment forums that are essentially vultures. They’re not social housing buddies. They’re not charities. They’re predators.

‘They’re doing nothing wrong. They’re allowed to do it. The market is wide open for predators to come in, wide open for the market to be manipulated.

Housing charity Acorn’s chief Nick Ballard told MailOnline: ‘Britain’s housing crisis should be a source of national shame.

‘Rising homelessness, 1.3 million families on council housing waiting lists and millions condemned to living in poor quality, insecure and expensive private rented accommodation are problems having a very real negative impact on people’s lives, health and on society as a whole.

‘House prices are out of reach for many and have been for years. Rising rents and the cost of living crisis mean people are finding it harder and harder to save to put down a deposit.

‘Policies of successive Governments have led to 1.5 million council houses sold or demolished and not replaced, so these are no longer a viable option for most.

‘House building alone, particularly build-to-rent properties which will siphon money to US investment companies, will not solve the housing crisis.

‘The Government must embark on a serious building programme for social homes, to address the shortage of housing, to bring down rental prices and to provide safe, secure and stable homes that can become the foundation of happy and healthy lives.’

As the average price of a London home nears the £1million mark, thousands of homeowners are ditching the capital.

Have YOU moved to Germany?

Instead of buying in London, homeowners are flocking to more affordable towns that are often in the north of Britain, MailOnline previously revealed.

Schemes like the Help To Buy ISA may have worked a decade ago but since savers can only receive a government bonus if they buy under £450,001, resources such as this have also been priced out.

The average house in the capital costs £733,000 but the average London salary is only £44,000 and most mortgages are capped at 4.5 times that, amounting to just £198,000.

The cheapest place to buy a home is in Middlehaven (TS2), in North Yorkshire, where an average house costs just £49,833.

In fact, Yorkshire postcodes make up the top four cheapest places to buy, with Bradford (BD1), Middlesbrough (TS1) and Brambles Farm (TS3) all coming in with prices under £85,000.

Shildon (DL4), in County Durham is the fifth cheapest, with homes selling for an average of just £86,993.

Linz Darlington, the boss of leasehold extension experts Homehold, told MailOnline: ‘You can seek a better and more affordable quality of life elsewhere.

‘Greater flexibility around working from home has made making a cross-country move more accessible for many.’

Yet while many people are considering leaving the capital, not all postcodes outside of London are as affordable.

In fact, some are even approaching London property prices.

Cobham (KT11), in Surrey, was the most dear, with the average home selling for a shopping £1.4million.

Close behind was Beaconsfield (HP9), in Buckinghamshire, where homes go for £1.3million.

Mr Darlington added: ‘Increasingly buyers are looking for property outside of London and the South East — and so they should be.

‘While these areas may be the preference of many, as a proposition they are clearly overpriced.

‘Leasehold flats have historically been the ”first rung on the ladder” for many house-buyers in London and the South East, but constant woes from cladding issues, outrageous service charges and spiralling ground rents make these an ever less attractive proposition.

‘Issues with flat ownership are compounded by the fact the age of first time buyers has been increasing, which means people are needing for larger, family friendly properties for their first homes.’


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We’re looking at buying a home with a swimming pool – how much would it cost to run?

We’re house hunting in our local area and have found a four-bedroom home with a pool in the garden which is roughly 20ft x 13ft, with a deep end of 6ft.

This £700,000 house ticks many boxes for us, but a swimming pool wasn’t a box to be ticked.

We have two young children, so a swimming pool might be a good feature – but we’re worried about running costs.

Money pit? A This is Money reader wants to know how much a swimming pool costs to maintain (file image)

Money pit? A This is Money reader wants to know how much a swimming pool costs to maintain (file image)

How much would it roughly cost to run all year round in terms of heating and regular maintenance, such as being chlorinated and cleaned?

It also doesn’t currently have a cover. How much roughly would it cost to have a top-of-the-range automatic cover so we could use it all year round?

The other option would be simply to fill it. Would that be a wise move, or would it instantly devalue the home?

We’re also not sure what that entails or how much it would cost to do. Any advice would be appreciated.

Jane Denton replies: You have shown me the house you are looking to buy in Essex and it does look rather fabulous for the price. 

However, taking on a house with a sizeable pool, particularly when you have two young children, is not to be taken lightly. 

If you plan to buy the property and keep the pool, as you rightly point out, there are multiple maintenance costs to consider. Swimming pools can be money pits. 

Taking just some examples, an appropriate pH and chlorine level has to be maintained, the floor of the pool will need vacuuming and the filtration system needs to be checked and serviced regularly. 

Skimming would become part of your daily vocabulary. 

There’s also the additional energy and water costs of running a swimming pool to factor in, which can be substantial.

Safety will be paramount, so it’s sensible that you don’t plan to scrimp on a decent automatic cover.

Another possibility would be, as you state, to get the pool filled in. 

You’ll need to carefully assess how much the pool would realistically be used all year round and consider whether or not the benefits would outweigh the costs and hassle involved. 

Fill in time? Filling in a pool can be expensive, but help save costs in the long run

Fill in time? Filling in a pool can be expensive, but help save costs in the long run 

Pete Simpson, of Pete The Poolman in Surrey, says: Buying a property with a swimming pool can be an exciting prospect. They are appealing and, in theory, make a great addition to a home. 

However, once you’ve moved in and lived with a swimming pool for a while, the reality isn’t always quite as good. 

As a starting point, before you buy the house it would be a good idea, if the seller agrees to it, for you to get an expert to take a look at the swimming pool. 

Pool expert Pete Simpson

Pool expert Pete Simpson

They will be able to tell you whether, for instance, there are any leaks, if the electrics comply with required standards and the condition and type of heating equipment on site. 

Getting problems like this sorted out can be expensive. 

Finding and repairing leaks can cost thousands of pounds. It’s worth knowing what you are buying before taking the plunge. 

In terms of future costs potentially involved, having a swimming pool is like owning a boat, only the water is on the inside.

Heating a pool of the size you are looking at with a modern gas heater for a season without a cover would cost approximately £100 per week, but this would be considerably less with a cover fitted. 

Heating costs vary depending on the outside temperature and the required pool temperature.

Getting a heat pump is another option. These can be pricey and cost thousands of pounds to purchase. 

They require the pool to be covered and ideally need an ambient air temperature of 12 degrees or more to work effectively and reach a comfortable swimming temperature. 

On top of heating costs, running the electric pool circulation pump for a summer season would cost approximately £1,000. 

Some pool owners choose to run the circulation pump for limited spells of time. However, I don’t think this is a good idea. It’s false economy. 

First, the heating can only operate with the pump running, so you lose precious heat during the pump’s downtime. Second, the pool would require more help from chemicals to retain water quality. 

The swimming pool that comes with the house you are considering buying doesn’t come with a cover. 

A good quality ‘walk on’ hydraulic automatic pool cover could potentially set you back as much as £25,000 for a top-of-the-range one, though some less expensive alternatives are available. 

A manual roller or blanket cover could cost a mere £2,000 or so, with the latter offering good heat retention, but, in my view, no safety for children or pets. 

Pools need chlorinating and cleaning regularly. 

Depending on your choice of sanitiser, you should allow at least £100 a month for this. 

The pool would also need to be closed up professionally for the cold winter months and opened in the spring in the same manner. 

If you choose to keep the pool, a good weekly routine service and maintenance schedule would be the best way forward, and maybe a a pay as you enter turnstile for all the new friends you acquire when the mercury rises.

Weekly service charges vary from company to company, but anything from say £55 to £75 per week, excluding chemicals, would be reasonable.

You may decide that the best option for your family would be to get the pool filled in. Prices vary, but getting this done can cost thousands. 

For a start, the pool would have to be broken up at the bottom and along the sides. 

The walls would have to be taken down over a metre to allow for landscaping. A rough guide for the pool with the home you are looking to buy would be around £20,000 and possibility a lot more if there isn’t access for machinery.

In essence, a pool is an expensive toy that will be enjoyed for a handful of days in the summer and is a wonderful garden ornament which will impress any guests.  

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