PCCW Global
19 Aug 2020

The changing skyline of our city centres

Along with Birmingham, Manchester has become the biggest investment hotspot outside of London in recent years as it has emerged from its post-industrial decline to become a city of culture, music, startups, new media and trendy shopping districts.

As one of Britain’s fastest developing cities, the population of Manchester city centre is set to double in the next five years thanks to mega investment in property development.
So what’s driving this change?

Perhaps the biggest factor in powering this development has been the growth of Build To Rent property (BTR). These large-scale developments are usually owned and funded by pensions of other investment vehicles, looking to secure long term income for the benefit of investors. Individual investors are also common, often from overseas. Chinese and Middle Eastern investors are finding that London has become saturated and too expensive. Every £100,000 they invest in a city such as Manchester will reap much higher yields and consequently it’s more attractive to them.

Of course securing the investment and building the properties is one thing but you still need people to live in them, so how are developers doing that?

Developers are increasingly looking at building new communities and creating areas of the city that people will work, shop, socialise as well as live in. These facilities all help to make an area and individual development much more attractive. For decades our city centres saw thousands of people leave and move to the suburbs, driven out by poor quality housing and a lack of investment in infrastructure. Today though city centres are often thriving places to live in and work and are as a result, much more attractive places to want to be.

Manchester in particular has seen significant and large-scale development of ‘luxury’ new living spaces. In just two square miles of the city centre, billions are being spent on building swanky new apartment blocks with penthouse suites commanding as much as £1.5million or to rent at up to £8000 per month. It’s clear such properties are attracting a certain type of resident, and as such the properties themselves must deliver what they promise.

Many of the residents are typically younger, affluent types, often working flexibly and who like to be seen to have the latest technology. For developers it’s therefore essential that their properties come equipped accordingly. Residents will be more attracted to a development if it comes with ultrafast broadband of 1Gbps and beyond or if a property comes with smart living features to make their lives easier and more secure.
For developers this means they need to ensure that their properties meet these demands if they’re to stand out in a busy market. Research consistently shows that properties with ultrafast connectivity command higher sale and rent prices, often up to 20% more than properties without.

If the growth of inner-city development is to continue, developers and investors must look to the future. Looking for long-term returns? Then they must invest in full fibre technology when planning and constructing their developments. Only fibre can deliver the future-proofed technology required to ensure the connectivity demands of residents are met not just today but for decades to come. This approach will help to deliver the highest rents, the highest yields and help the communities which they are building to thrive.

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