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Regional cities urged to stimulate commercial property investment

Words: Huw Morris

The UK’s regional cities must step up efforts to attract private sector investment if the country is to rebalance a London-centric commercial property market.

Research by the Centre for Cities think tank shows that just over half of all investment in the UK’s commercial property market in 2016 – worth £43.3 billion in total – was spent in the capital.

This was significantly more than the South-East, the next second most attractive region, which secured nearly £5 billion of investment, equivalent to 11 per cent of the UK total.

But regions such as the North-East and Wales attracted less than £1 billion of commercial property investment each last year, representing 2 per cent and 1 per cent of the total share of investment.

The think tank highlights four key characteristics investors look for in cities:

  • A strong city economy with growth potential;
  • Excellent transport connections;
  • Pro-investment leadership with consistent policies and bargaining power with central government; and
  • A strong focus and record on delivery, with an economic development team which is open to investors’ expertise.

“With the shock general election result and upcoming Brexit talks causing considerable uncertainty for the UK economy, the onus is on cities across the country to secure more of the investment needed to boost local and national economic growth in the coming years,” said Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter.

“Investors tell us that regional cities are an increasingly appealing prospect because of London’s high property prices – now these places need to take advantage by ensuring they are as attractive and open for investment as possible.

“This means taking steps to strengthen their local economy by improving transport, skills and housing. But it also means actively promoting the advantages they offer, building stronger relationships with investors, and intervening when necessary to ensure big investment projects get over the line.”

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