Encouraging national economic data is reflected in positive news and a more optimistic outlook for the property market, particularly in Yorkshire.
This month, the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney argued that a recovery is gaining pace in the UK national economy, a view which seems to be supported by accountants BDO who have reported that business confidence has increased for the tenth consecutive month and suggest that the economic recovery will gather pace in the first half of 2014.
Indeed, the Centre for Economic Business Research (CEBR) now predicts that Britain will be Europe’s biggest economy, eclipsing that of Germany, by 2030.
The UK inflation rate has continued its downward trend with a further decline in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), having fallen from 2.7% in September to 2.2% in October, continuing down to 2.1% in November. Similarly, the unemployment rate also fell in November to 7.4%, the lowest rate since the February-to-April period in 2009, the number of people out of work having come down by 99,000 to 2.39 million.
A snapshot of positive news from the Yorkshire region includes:
- Leeds has climbed to seventh place in the national retail rankings, following the successful opening of the Trinity Leeds Shopping Centre (1 million ft²) by Land Securities earlier this year; Hammerson has received planning approval for its £130m Victoria Gate retail development, to be anchored by John Lewis (260,000 ft²); the opening of the new Leeds Arena has provided a further boost to the City.
- Leeds City Council has agreed the largest office pre-let (170,000 ft²) in the City centre in more than 20 years; other office acquisitions of note include Yorkshire Building Society (76,000 ft²), Jet 2 owner, Dart Group, (73,000 ft²) and KPMG (61,250 ft²); there is a perceived lack of Grade A office space available in the City centre which developers such as MEPC and Town Centre Securities are looking to address; out of town, Scarborough Developments received approval for a 1.6m ft² extension to its Thorpe Park business park set to create a further 13,000 jobs.
- In Bradford, construction is due to begin in January on the long-awaited £260m Broadway shopping centre development; the 570,000 ft² scheme will feature a 106,000 ft² Debenhams department store and a 63,000 ft² M&S as anchors; it is expected to open for the Christmas 2015 shopping period.
- In Hull, the 50-acre Bridgehead Business Park, said to be the most sustainable in the North of England, has officially opened; Kingston Parklands, a new £25m business park will be focussed on the renewable energy sector; and approval has this month been granted for Able UK’s proposed Marine Energy Park, a £450m renewable energy project on the south bank of the Humber, which will create 4,000 jobs and is hoped will help cement the region’s position as the “Energy Estuary”.
- York City Council is allocating £10 million to help kick-start development of York Central (the “teardrop” site), one of Europe’s largest city centre brownfield sites, and will agree a land swap with Network Rail in order to secure an access route into the site; the 27-acre former Terry’s chocolate factory site on Bishopthorpe Road has been purchased by Henry Boot Developments and David Wilson Homes who will be developing the commercial and residential components, respectively; expansion of the University of York continues apace on its Heslington East site; and the £90m Vangarde Retail Park at Monks Cross, anchored by John Lewis and M&S, is now being shop-fitted and expected to open in April 2014.