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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Office

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Health sector

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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Living in a surfer’s paradise! Chic townhouse with incredible floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking beach in Cornwall goes on the market for £2.75million

A chic townhouse with breathtaking views over a surfer’s paradise has gone on the market for £2.75m.

Gwel Tresla has incredible floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the surf mecca of Polzeath, Cornwall, and even has a sky hammock to take full advantage of the panoramic views.

The five-bedroom home is one of three striking contemporary townhouses completed in 2020 with high specifications and smart technology throughout and has been a successful holiday let with Latitude 50.

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position, which means the owners will get to enjoy spectacular sunsets.

It has 2,863 sq ft of accommodation with the entrance lobby and a double bedroom with en suite on the ground floor, and four bedrooms and four bathrooms on the first floor.

Gwel Tresla in Polzeath, Cornwall is on the housing market for £2.75million

Gwel Tresla in Polzeath, Cornwall is on the housing market for £2.75million

The property is located in the small seaside resort village overlooking the beach that is popular with surfers

The property is located in the small seaside resort village overlooking the beach that is popular with surfers

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position

The property is arranged over four storeys with reversed living accommodation to make the most of its incredible beachfront and west-facing position

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area

The kitchen has a breakfast bar where the owners can enjoy a meal as daylight shines in through the floor-to-ceiling windows

The kitchen has a breakfast bar where the owners can enjoy a meal as daylight shines in through the floor-to-ceiling windows

There is a built-in-bar on the other side of the kitchen which is perfect when hosting guests

There is a built-in-bar on the other side of the kitchen which is perfect when hosting guests

On the second floor there is an impressive open plan living space with a kitchen/dining area with built-in bar at one end and a living area with a vaulted ceiling and a sea-facing balcony at the other.

The top floor has another living area/TV room with the sky hammock looking out over the beach and a bathroom. There is also a large covered terrace with built-in outdoor kitchen and barbecue.

Outside there is secure underground parking for two cars, a lockable surf and equipment store and outdoor hot and cold showers.

The house is just 25 yards from Polzeath Beach, a popular holiday spot with safe bathing and surfing and a vast expanse of beach.

Polzeath is close to the other popular resorts of Rock and Padstow and has a number of excellent restaurants and pubs nearby, great watersports opportunities and walking and golf.

The reversed living accommodation allows the owners to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the living room

The reversed living accommodation allows the owners to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the living room

The top floor has another living area that leads out onto a large covered terrace

The top floor has another living area that leads out onto a large covered terrace

There is a sky hammock on the top floor looking out over the beach

There is a sky hammock on the top floor looking out over the beach

The covered terrace has built-in outdoor kitchen, barbecue and seating

The covered terrace has built-in outdoor kitchen, barbecue and seating

Josephine Ashby from John Bray Estates said: ‘This striking architectural design, by Studio Arc Architects, delivers on all fronts, with breath-taking coastal views from all the principal rooms, and high specifications and smart technology throughout.

‘Completed in 2020, Gwel Trelsa is the dream beachfront property, offering comfortable and spacious accommodation that seamlessly blends comfort and luxury, resulting in a highly desirable family home or holiday home.

‘Situated in a prime frontline position at Polzeath, Gwel Trelsa commands front line views across the beach and over the surrounding coastline.’

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The 11 things that make your garden look tacky, revealed by a top expert – including the flower colour that just screams cheap

A well-maintained garden may be a relaxing retreat – but it can also boost the kerb appeal and even the value of your home.

But, if done the wrong way, efforts to enhance your outside space can leave it looking cheap.

From choosing the wrong plant pots to – counterintuitively – being too tidy, the Mail’s gardening editor looks at the 11 common errors that can cheapen your garden, rather than helping it thrive. 

When tidy is too tidy

Many of us were brought up with strict ideas about well-kept gardens, with lawns neatly mown and weeds all pulled up. But that is no longer the prevailing aesthetic.

Letting go a little and being slightly untidy can lead to a more expensive looking haven. And leaving self-sown plants in summer and seed heads over winter will make your garden look more expensively abundant. Phew!

Wildflower beds with self-sown plants are now the prevailing aesthetic

Wildflower beds with self-sown plants are now the prevailing aesthetic 

Yellow’s not mellow

Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for bright yellow flowers such as daffodils and sunflowers. But such garish flowers must be used in the right context.

Expansive garden beds the colour of a hi-vis vest? It’s a no. Yellow is difficult to match with other colours and should be used sparingly.

The perils of artificial grass

The quickest way to make your garden look cheap is to lay artificial turf. Used widely in sporting venues, fake grass became popular because it doesn’t need to be mowed or watered so is seen as low-maintenance and hard-wearing. But it almost always looks naff.

Plus, the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits. It is ruinous for wildlife and adds to global warming by absorbing more radiation than living grass, which acts as a carbon sink. Natural lawns allow rainwater to be soaked up, whereas artificial grass can cause run-off after heavy rainfall leading to flooding.

In hot weather, it can reach dangerous temperatures, especially for pets who might burn their paws. Plus, it only has a lifespan of ten to 20 years, after which time it is difficult to recycle.

 Soulless bare fences

Fences without greenery can make your garden look boxy and cheap. There are plenty of easy climbers you can plant to soften the feel and make your garden look more high-end.

Star Jasmine is a lovely evergreen with pretty white flowers, while climbing hydrangea is good for a shady corner.

If you want privacy, remember evergreen hedges can’t be more than 2m high, according to the High Hedges Act. Instead try planting deciduous silver birch trees with attractive white trunks and green foliage in summer when you are out in the garden.

Don’t settle for plastic furniture

Moulded plastic chairs are unsightly and should be avoided at all costs. Plus, they’re uncomfortable and topple if you lean too far back, or slice into any bare flesh unfortunate enough to touch the seat.

If your budget won’t stretch to buying new wood, rattan or metal alternatives, search local online groups to see if anyone has second hand deck chairs or outdoor dining sets on offer.

If you are willing to buy something preloved and weathered, it can often cost less but look more expensive.

Thin borders, a thing of the past

Narrow flower beds around the edge of a rectangular lawn used to be thought of as the ideal garden design, but these days it just looks scrimping.

Borders should be at least a metre deep to allow for multi-layered planting. Don’t just put them around the perimeter of your garden. Flower beds used to divide up a space add a touch of mystery and look much classier.

Gadgets and gazebos

Barbecues, fire pits, corner sofas, gazebos, over-sized paddling pools – its easy for your outdoor space to become cluttered with so many garden gadgets you can’t move around without tripping over them.

Decide what you really need and use often, then recycle the rest. Or store them away neatly in the shed until you want to use them.

Plastic plant pot horror

It is tricky to keep plants looking good in plastic containers, even the ones that attempt to imitate terracotta.

As well as the lack of sustainability, the trouble with plastic is that unlike materials such as wood and stone, it provides no protection for plants against drying out in summer and freezing in winter, and it is not breathable.

If you do have plastic pots, reuse them for propagating and save your best non-plastic containers for display purposes.

Paving the way to disaster  

Every gardener needs somewhere to sit, but this shouldn’t come at the expense of losing too much of your lawn.

Ideally there should be a ratio of at least two-thirds planting and grass to one-third hard surface. If you are putting in a new patio, consider leaving gaps between the pavers for low plants such as creeping thyme and Mind-Your-Own-Business which will also help with drainage. 

If you want to park your car in your front garden, choose a permeable surface with planting around the edges.

Fly-away greenhouses

I must confess I own one of these mini shelving units covered in a zip-up, see-through plastic smock. But after it fell over outside one too many times in windy weather, despite being tied to the wall, I have brought it in to our lean-to where I now use it as a propagating unit. A pile of overturned seed trays and spilled soil does nothing to add to kerb appeal.

Do away with dead pot plants 

Well-tended container planting can add a cheerful welcome to a garden or balcony, but there is little as off-putting as being greeted by a collection of unidentifiable shrivelled dead plants in pots.

Avoid this by doing your research and choosing plants you love which will encourage you to water and feed them regularly. Having a water butt nearby makes this task much easier.

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

Assessing Property Size In The UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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