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Love thy neighbour: Forget Location, buyers are looking for community

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The mantra for house movers before the pandemic was Location, Location, Location. But now, as people seek more comfort and security in their everyday lives, there’s a new call: Community, Community, Community.

Government figures show that after coronavirus hit the UK last spring, 64 per cent of adults said they supported their community by doing additional voluntary work; 63 per cent had checked on those living nearby and 37 per cent had done shopping or other tasks for older neighbours; all big increases on levels before the crisis. 

‘A real sense of community has climbed the list of priorities for housebuyers and for many is now a must-have rather than a would-like,’ says Rachel Johnston, of Stacks Property Search, a buying agency. ‘Buyers are doing surgical research into what a community offers.’

One for all: Cafes and the market in Shropshire’s Ludlow - a town with a long-standing foodie tradition and a community group

One for all: Cafes and the market in Shropshire’s Ludlow – a town with a long-standing foodie tradition and a community group

As well as more space both indoors, for an office, and outdoors in the fresh air, today’s buyers want something extra – the security of an active neighbourhood.

Here are some of the best examples of communities in action…

Tip-top Topsham

The historic estuary town of Topsham, near Exeter in Devon, where house prices average £545,000, is a flurry of sailing and activity groups and has a strong community vibe, too. 

The Love Topsham volunteer group, funded by residents’ and shops’ donations, has installed waterside benches to help cafes and restaurants unable to allow customers inside.

The group also operates a website publicising ad-hoc menus and deals from local businesses, set up the Christmas lights and ran a programme of street musicians to entertain socially distanced shoppers waiting in line.

Hampshire hub

Estate agents say the county of Hampshire is a new hotspot for Londoners quitting the capital and seeking a thriving community spirit.

‘The village of Abbotts Ann near Andover has a village shop run by the community providing a hub where villagers interact safely,’ says Ben Home of Middleton Advisors, a buying agency.

Emma Seaton, of Prime Purchase, adds: ‘There’s been a surge in WhatsApp groups in our village. People we didn’t even know lived there were suddenly in need of a prescription or milk, which neighbours were more than happy to assist with.’

Yorkshire cheer

Todmorden may look familiar to viewers of the Happy Valley TV series, but the village is a hive of community groups in its own right.

One of the best known is Incredible Edible, which was set up a decade ago to promote veg-growing on open spaces and has Prince Charles as an early supporter. Now dozens of other Incredible Edible groups operate across the country.

‘The community buzz created by this and other groups has attracted people to this part of Yorkshire,’ says Gavin Keen, a property consultant based in Manchester, 25 miles south of the town.

Byfield spirit

A Good Neighbour Scheme was set up in Byfield before the pandemic, but now it’s become a Covid-safe help network. Requests from those needing assistance come in via WhatsApp and are then distributed to a community of more than 40 ‘hunter-gatherers’.

One of those already going out for, say, family shopping then agrees to get additional items for those making the request. Then each afternoon there’s a delivery run to drop off the medicines or foodstuffs.

The combination of community spirit and keen house prices, Zoopla says the Byfield average is £360,000, makes this village in strong demand say local estate agents.

Full of flavour

Ludlow in Shropshire is a town with a long-standing foodie tradition and a community group, Local To Ludlow, which featured on the BBC’s The Farmers’ Country Showdown. 

The group runs a cafe and shop, a produce market that’s been open through lockdown, plus a farmers’ market majoring on food and drink from within a 30-mile radius.

Local To Ludlow also operates Easy Peasy cookery, a project that delivers educational sessions at schools and local events.

House prices are relatively low, an average of £310,000, but expect that to change as community becomes more key.

Northern light

The housing market in Huddersfield saw a 3 per cent price rise in 2020 – perhaps due to the town’s amazing camaraderie.

The Community Mutual Aid Support Group started off last spring with more than 700 volunteers willing to help with shopping, befriending and posting mail for those shielding in this part of Yorkshire.

Recently, it’s been collecting used laptops for children who are being home-schooled.

On the market… in a friendly spot 

Devon: A stroll away from the Exe estuary in Topsham, this Grade II-listed house has three bedrooms. There is a garden and a double garage. East of Exe, 01392 877 240. £850,000

Devon: A stroll away from the Exe estuary in Topsham, this Grade II-listed house has three bedrooms. There is a garden and a double garage. East of Exe, 01392 877 240. £850,000

Northamptonshire: The thatched roof is just one of many character features in this four-bedroom cottage in Byfield, with a large garden and an outhouse. Fine and Country, 01295 987 064. £550,000

Northamptonshire: The thatched roof is just one of many character features in this four-bedroom cottage in Byfield, with a large garden and an outhouse. Fine and Country, 01295 987 064. £550,000

Shropshire: In the centre of Ludlow, near a daily market, this house has three bedrooms, several ornate fireplaces and beamed ceilings. Strutt and Parker, 01584 544 004. £525,000

Shropshire: In the centre of Ludlow, near a daily market, this house has three bedrooms, several ornate fireplaces and beamed ceilings. Strutt and Parker, 01584 544 004. £525,000

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People in Weoley Castle, Birmingham are at ‘the end of their tether’ over massive pile of rubbish

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Neighbours are at ‘the end of their tether’ over massive pile of rubbish in council flat garden including fridges, trollies and furniture that has been growing for 10 YEARS

  • The garden in Weoley Castle, Birmingham, has been used as a dumping ground 
  • The pile of rubbish has been growing for over a decade and is now attracting rats
  • Next door neighbour Darren Holden, 52, said ‘something has to be done’ 
  • A video shows the garden overflowing with old mattresses, fridges and trollies 

Furious neighbours are fed-up after a council flat garden that has been used as a dumping ground for rubbish for more than a decade is now starting to attract rats.

Hospital worker Darren Holden, 52, from Weoley Castle in Birmingham, said he and his fellow neighbours are ‘reaching the end of their tether’ after the pile of waste, which includes fridges, trollies and furniture, has been building for 10 years.

Video footage of his neighbour’s garden shows a sea of discarded household appliances, including what looks like a bathtub and mattress, as well broken bits of wood scattered across the garden.

Mr Holden said the garden belongs to an elderly tenant who lives in the council flat above his own and is understood to have a medical condition.

The frustrated resident said: ‘The other neighbours and myself are just getting sick of it. We’re getting rats in our gardens and it’s getting worse and worse every year.

‘I’ve lived in the property for 14 years and I’d say this has been going on for up to ten years now. Some of the neighbours have to look at all the rubbish from their windows.

‘I’ve seen rats in my garden – my dog chased one off the other day.’

Darren Holden, 52, from Weoley Castle, Birmingham, is 'reaching the end of his tether' after the garden next door to his home has been used a dumping ground for more than 10 years. The ever-growing rubbish pile, which includes a fridges, trollies and a mattress, is now attracting rats.

Darren Holden, 52, from Weoley Castle, Birmingham, is ‘reaching the end of his tether’ after the garden next door to his home has been used a dumping ground for more than 10 years. The ever-growing rubbish pile, which includes a fridges, trollies and a mattress, is now attracting rats. 

Everyday Mr Holden has to walk through the rubbish-strewn garden to get from his home into his own garden.

Despite making a complaint to Birmingham City Council years ago, when the mound of waste first started to build, he heard nothing back.

He added: ‘It’s full of old fridge freezers with the doors taken off, air fryers, televisions, baby baths, old chairs, lots of wood, bed bases, chairs, glass – you name it, it’s in there.

‘I saw a shopping trolley from Asda in the road the other day then noticed the next day it was in the garden.

‘I have complained to the council before but nothing happened, I didn’t hear back. Then it just carried on getting worse.’

Broken bits of wood, household appliances and chairs are some of the items that have been chucked into the garden over the last decade. Mr Holden first made a complaint to Birmingham City Council years ago but he never got a response. The council has now said it has issued a warning to the tenant to clean the garden within the next 14 days.

Broken bits of wood, household appliances and chairs are some of the items that have been chucked into the garden over the last decade. Mr Holden first made a complaint to Birmingham City Council years ago but he never got a response. The council has now said it has issued a warning to the tenant to clean the garden within the next 14 days. 

Mr Holden said he does not want to cause any issues for the elderly man who owns the garden but wants the council to provide him with help to clean it up.

He added: ‘I’m at the end of my tether now and don’t know what to do. Enough is enough, people are getting fed up and I’m not putting up with it anymore.

‘I don’t want to cause any issues for the guy who lives there – he’s elderly and lives alone so he probably just needs some help. But something has to be done.’

The Weoley Castle garden is strewn with discarded fridges, trollies, furniture, household appliances, mattresses and broken bits of wood.

The garden is believed to be owned by an elderly man with a medical condition. Mr Holden said he wants the council to help the resident.

The council flat garden is believed to be owned by the elderly man who lives above Mr Holden. Mr Holden said he does not ‘want to cause any issues to the guy who lives there’ but added that something had to be done. 

Birmingham City Council said it has now contacted the tenant and issued a warning letter to clear the garden within the next 14 days.

A spokesperson for the council said: ‘We have been in contact with the tenant about the items left in their front garden and the impact this is having on the local community.

‘They have been issued with a warning letter to clear the garden in the next 14 days. We are working with the tenant to resolve this.’

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Hundreds queue for one rental property in Dublin as Irish capital’s housing shortage in crisis

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Over 150 potential tenants queued to view a single rental property in Dublin last night as Ireland grapples with a housing crisis.

A long queue formed along St Brendans Road in Dublin on Tuesday night, with over 100 people queuing for a viewing at the three-bedroom house at 8.30pm. 

Within 30 minutes, even as the sun set, a further 50 people joined the queue to view the property, which costs €1,850 a month, in the city.

Conor Finn, who posted footage of the long queues, tweeted that he had waited for an hour in the queue before leaving without viewing the property.

‘An hour later and I’ve left the queue after no real movement or chance of viewing the house tonight,’ Finn said on Tuesday night at 9.30pm. ‘People were still joining the end of the queue as I left.’

Ireland’s economy is booming as the republic offers low corporation tax rates to tech and pharmaceutical companies such as Google – and pandemic-enhanced revenues from those companies has meant the republic is enjoying a €8bn corporate tax windfall.

But employees from these companies have flooded into the country, meaning the demand for properties in Ireland have soared. They are also able to afford to pay higher prices for houses and renting a property, meaning costs have soared.

This, coupled with a shortage of properties, has meant Ireland is facing a housing crisis and one estate agents in Dublin have even had to introduce a lottery system for viewings after they received 1,200 applications for one home.

Over 150 potential tenants queued to view a single rental property in Dublin last night as Ireland grapples with a housing crisis

Over 150 potential tenants queued to view a single rental property in Dublin last night as Ireland grapples with a housing crisis

A long queue formed along a street in Dublin on Tuesday night, with over 100 people queuing for a house viewing at around 8.30pm

A long queue formed along a street in Dublin on Tuesday night, with over 100 people queuing for a house viewing at around 8.30pm

A long queue formed along a street in Dublin on Tuesday night, with over 100 people queuing for a house viewing at around 8.30pm

Demand for rental accommodation in Dublin has grown from already sky high levels in recent months – to such a degree that Ireland’s largest private landlord could have recently filled a new apartment block 30 times over, its chief executive said on Thursday. 

Chronic supply shortages pushed Irish rental properties to a new record low this month, with just 716 homes available to a population of 5.1 million people as of August 1, property website Daft.ie said in a report on Wednesday last week.

Irish Residential Properties REIT (IRES) Chief Executive Margaret Sweeney told Reuters that it received 600 requests to view 20 new apartments it listed last month near Dublin’s city centre.

The 61-unit development was fully occupied within a week of the builders completing the project, she added.

‘We’re definitely seeing much greater demand, there is a real shortage of good available accommodation. We’ve seen it increasing month-on-month,’ Sweeney said in a telephone interview.

‘It’s coming through in the fundamentals, unemployment is even lower than it was pre-COVID, there’s been quite strong FDI (foreign direct investment). We’ve a very young population as well as less emigration than previous decades.’

Estate agents Brock Delappe in Dublin said they have been forced to operate a ‘lottery system’ when choosing who can view properties because they have been inundated with applications.  

Within 30 minutes, even as the sun set, a further 50 people joined the queue to view the property in the city.

Within 30 minutes, even as the sun set, a further 50 people joined the queue to view the property in the city

Within 30 minutes, even as the sun set, a further 50 people joined the queue to view the property in the city

Ireland is facing a housing crisis due to a shortage in houses coupled with soaring demand

Ireland is facing a housing crisis due to a shortage in houses coupled with soaring demand

David Brock, an estate agent at the firm, said that there have been 1,200 applications for a single property.

‘The knock-on of that is, while the rent is low, you can only rent it out to one person and then you have got 1,999 disappointed people,’ Brock told Newstalk

‘When we’re doing the lettings and it comes to that, we need to operate a lottery system, which is unfair as well. You meet a lot of people who are desperate.’ 

While Ireland built too many homes in the wrong places in the 2000s, supply has since constantly fallen short of demand and rents have long passed their previous peak, limiting prospective buyers’ ability to save a deposit.

A years-long mismatch between low supply and high demand in Ireland has been compounded by two shutdowns of the construction sector in the past 18 months to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The resultant stalling in the building of new homes and a high number of well-paid employees at tech companies moving to Ireland has contributed to house prices rising again and rents increasing. 

In 2009, there were over 23,400 homes available to rent in Ireland – nearly 8,000 in Dublin and 15,500 elsewhere. In contrast there were less than 300 homes to rent in Dublin and 424 elsewhere on August 1 this year. 

Ronan Lyons, who wrote the Daft.ie report, said: ‘A resurgent economy over the last year has accentuated the chronic shortage of rental housing in Ireland.

‘The shortage of rental accommodation translates directly into higher market rents and this can only be addressed by significantly increased supply.’

Last month, Irish officials claimed Britain’s Rwanda policy has triggered a surge in refugees arriving in Ireland, reports The Telegraph.

But that is just one factor – the Irish government said that the country has seen an increase of refugees due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

The unprecedented number of refugees arriving in Ireland has put pressure on the country’s housing crisis, despite generous offers to host Ukrainian families.

The shortage of accommodation has become so critical that around 4,300 Ukrainian refugees are set to be displaced this month, reports the Irish Independent. They are being housed in hotels and hospital accommodation. 



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Bluewater grows its entertainment offer (GB)

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Landsec has announced the opening of a third ‘UK first’ attraction at Bluewater, Kent as the destination expands its partnership with Hangloose Adventures. Skydive, a free-fall experience not found anywhere else in Europe, and the UK’s only outdoor skydive machine has opened at the centre. It follows on from Europe’s biggest purpose-built giant swing, standing at 46-metre tall, which opened at Bluewater earlier this month.  

 

The announcement builds on a successful first year for Hangloose’s initial attraction Skywire, the longest zip wire in England, which has welcomed 30,000 guests since launching at Bluewater last June. Landsec will continue to work with Hangloose to expand its offering, with up to five more experiences set to open at the centre by 2024: a bungee tower, giant slide, clip and climb, waterdrop boulding wall, and Via Ferrata, a route-marked climb using metal rails and rungs embedded in Bluewater’s cliff walls.

 

Mark Warne, Brand Account Director F&B and Leisure at Landsec commented: “Delivering new experiences which are unique to Bluewater is central to our overall offer for guests. Hangloose’s innovative concept raises the bar when it comes to leisure attractions and draws guests from across the UK to Kent. By partnering with Hangloose to grow their business and create shared value, we’ll be able to give guests even more exciting experiences every time they visit.”

 

Brian Phelps, MD of Hangloose Adventure, said: “Since the beginning, we’ve worked closely with Landsec to grow our leisure concept and drive performance, putting us in a unique position where we’re able to expand our offer after only a year. We’ve enjoyed great success at Bluewater so far and are already thinking about how we can provide even bigger and better experiences in the future.”

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