Bristol is well and truly on the map, with a growing tech and finance sector, thriving restaurant scene, newly appointed metro mayor for the West of England and a property market that is outperforming not just the local region, but the rest of country.
The city is undergoing dramatic change. Supported by the fastest growing economy outside London, it’s seen massive city centre regeneration and, to confirm it status as a thriving city, it was voted the winner in The Sunday Times' Best Place to Live 2017 survey which rated cities across the UK by using data such as crime rates, house prices and school performance. The paper said Bristol was the obvious choice: 'a small city that feels like a big city and handily placed for seaside and scenery but hardly cut off'.
All of this is reflected in the success of the residential development market in Bristol which has held its own, despite political headwinds and a higher tax environment for some.
The demand for different property types in the city is changing, too. There is an increased appetite for studios and one-bedroom apartments in Bristol’s new developments and typically these have been the first unit types in a scheme to be sold. First-time buyers are the biggest source of demand for this type of home, often bolstered by the government’s Help to Buy scheme or the Bank of Mum and Dad. As we expect demand from first-time buyers to continue we see an opportunity to design and build homes over the coming year which include a greater mix of smaller unit sizes.
Another change in the Bristol market is the gradual reduction in the number of investment purchases for buy-to-let since the introduction of higher rates of stamp duty and the additional 3 per cent surcharge on second homes. However, the increase in the number of first-time buyers has so far balanced the demand, although first-time buyers will typically buy homes later in the development process. Historically investors purchase during the early stages of an off-plan marketing campaign, while first time-buyers typically purchase closer to the time of build completion, which may impact the way we see development being delivered in the city.
A number of developments will launch in the coming months in areas close to the city centre, such as St Pauls, Stokes Croft, Bedminster and Old Market. These lower value areas are seeing an uplift due to the knock-on effect of city centre regeneration, and are also an opportunity to provide more affordable stock for buyers who have been priced out of the centre of Bristol.
Bristol is in a good position to make the most of future growth opportunities with infrastructure improvements such as the electrification of the Great Western railway, faster internet connections and the MetroBus network which will all support development in the city.