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Is This Britain’s Happiest Estate?

A housing co-operative built in the 1860s to accommodate workers following the Industrial Revolution is still home to a thriving community despite soaring property prices, residents say.

The eleven Stockbridge Colonies in Edinburgh were built during the 1860s after the population of the Scottish capital double during the Industrial Revolution, during which period living conditions were described as some of the worst in the UK, prompting workers to demand housing reform.

But locals insist the area still has a community spirit and they love being part of its history.

A one-bedroom flat in the Colonies can now fetch £295,000, with the buildings now listed and protected by Edinburgh Council.

Jessie Deopp, 39, moved to Scotland from the US in 2023, when her husband Pat, 41, had the opportunity to relocate for work at an investment management company.

Pat and Jessie Deopp moved their family to the Colonies from the US and like the area for its 'historical charm'

Pat and Jessie Deopp moved their family to the Colonies from the US and like the area for its ‘historical charm’

The Deopp family inside their Stockbridge Colonies flat in Edinburgh

The Deopp family inside their Stockbridge Colonies flat in Edinburgh

An aerial view of the distinctive rows of homes that make up the Colonies, which after the Industrial Revolution was home to  some of the worst living conditions in Britain
An aerial view of the distinctive rows of homes that make up the Colonies, which after the Industrial Revolution was home to some of the worst living conditions in Britain

They moved to Edinburgh with their two children in July, before learning about the family-oriented Stockbridge Colonies, moving into their upper-level flat in October 2023.

‘The community within the city was what attracted us – we were really looking for a place to raise our little family,’ said Jessie, who works as a virtual assistant.

‘We moved from the States in July to a flat in New Town, and we wanted a different, more family-oriented vibe.

‘We’d heard such wonderful things about the colonies and how they’re filled with small children and young families. It feels like a little community within a big city.

‘I’ve met some families with young children, and they say that when the weather gets nicer, everybody is outside.

‘We’ve had a glimpse of spring, and everyone was outside doing their laundry, their gardening, or just going for walks and getting outside – it’s very social.

‘We’re very drawn to the historical element. That’s another reason why we chose the Stockbridge colonies – it’s fun to live in a place with so much history.

‘It makes you think about who lived here and what kind of experiences they had. It’s really cool, to have the original fireplaces and brick, and the tall windows. We really have a thing for historical charm!’

The Edinburgh Co-operative Building Company (ECBC) was created after construction workers were punished for striking over working hours and conditions and managed to raise £10,000 by selling £1 shares in their company.

The ECBC then began construction on the Stockbridge Colonies – homes built by and for the cooperative and beyond, which could house up to 7,000 people. Potential residents could pay a £5 deposit for an upper or lower level flat, which would range from £100-130, with the remaining balance to be paid off within 20 years.

The Stockbridge Colonies were designed to house over 7,000 people

The Stockbridge Colonies were designed to house over 7,000 people

Retiree Bil Brownlee, has lived on the estate for 30 years

Retiree Bil Brownlee, has lived on the estate for 30 years

Mr Brownlee admitted that he would not be able to afford his ground floor apartment if he was buying it today

Mr Brownlee admitted that he would not be able to afford his ground floor apartment if he was buying it today

The area became known for housing construction workers, carpenters, artists and tradespeople, and the neighbourhoods would regularly hold community events and fairs.

Retired Bill Brownlee, 72, moved into the Colonies 29 years ago, buying his lower-level flat for just £55,000 at the time after admiring the peaceful nature of the neighbourhood and its community spirit.

A resident of Edinburgh for over 40 years, Bill believes that the area’s history shouldn’t be forgotten – and is glad to see longstanding traditions of community events being enjoyed by new residents.

‘It was built in the late 1800s, and it was initially built to accommodate the artisans in the area. It was built as a cooperative movement by and for artisans in the area,’ Bill said.

‘It has drifted away from that – it’s seen as sort of a trendy area now in certain respects.

‘Having said that, it’s still got a fairly good community. There are still people like myself that have been here quite a number of years, and even people that have been born and brought up here whose parents have passed and left them the house.

‘It’s still got a community attitude, but that’s borne out of the people who stay here. There are still families that have been there for a while.

‘There’s lots of events that take place over the year that raise that community spirit. At Christmas, we have a ceilidh where tickets initially go out to the residents of the colonies, and then if there are any left over, other folk can come to the ceilidh.

‘There’s also a yearly yard sale coming up in May, and there can be 30 odd houses participating. It’s just putting stuff out for sale in your garden, but that attracts a big influx of people coming into the area just for the day.

‘There’s a Creative Colonies, whereby within the colonies housing, there are a few creative types that design or do artwork and they’ll invite people into their houses for viewing and purchasing art goods. There’s all sort of things in this community that keep it vibrant.’

But he added that skyrocketing houseprices and rents had made it difficult for young people to move there, admitting that he wouldn’t be able to afford his own home if he was buying it today.

He said: ‘I bought my flat nearly 30 years ago, and I couldn’t afford to buy it now – I think that’s unfair for people coming in,’ he said.

‘Mine was advertised at £58,000, and it needed some remedial work. I think I got it for around £55,000. That seems like nothing now, but nearly 30 years ago, that was still a fair amount to pay.

‘There are the lower colonies and the upper colonies, and they enter from different streets. The upstairs houses are usually bigger and command a greater price.

‘If one of those is done up nicely, they can be over half a million in today’s prices.

Houses in the Stockbridge colonies are split into separate flats, known as the upper colonies and lower colonies which residents enter at different level

Houses in the Stockbridge colonies are split into separate flats, known as the upper colonies and lower colonies which residents enter at different level

A street in the Edinburgh Colonies. Estate agents say the area still a 'unique draw' while being within walking distance of Edinburgh's city centre

A street in the Edinburgh Colonies. Estate agents say the area still a ‘unique draw’ while being within walking distance of Edinburgh’s city centre

A free library in the Colonies. The estate attracts a wide variety of buyers, from first-timers to investors

A free library in the Colonies. The estate attracts a wide variety of buyers, from first-timers to investors

‘There’s a certain draw to this area that instils the higher price – but I like the historical importance.’

Francesca Hill from Coulters estate agent said: ‘The charm of the Stockbridge Colonies continues to attract buyers both locally and from further afield.

‘These characterful properties have a unique draw, being both peacefully situated beside the Water of Leith yet walking distance of Edinburgh’s city centre and major attractions.

‘The colonies attract a variety of buyers, from first time buyers and investors predominantly buying the 1 and 2 bedroom lower colonies, to couples and families drawn to the larger double upper flats.

‘As an agent, the joy of visiting the Stockbridge Colonies is that it is rare you will find two flats the same.

‘Over the years, owners have modified the layouts to create unique homes with their own individual charm, whilst from the outside, the terraces remain uniform thanks to their listed status’.

Culture

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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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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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.


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