The Train is Coming – How HS2 Will Change Stoke-on-Trent from the property investment market perspective.
Like me, you might have felt that sometimes and specially this year, every time we turned on the mainstream news there was nothing but bad news and a lot of ‘predictions from experts’.
Property market was by far a classic examples, from catastrophic the entire market to a complete different reality of what the second half of 2020 panned out to be by the ‘property investment the experts’.
This has made it easy for the small bits of positive news to slip through the net unnoticed and getting brushed under the carpet and overlooked by Covid turmoil waiting just around the corner.
In February of 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an announcement which made me sit up and pay attention. What he said had a huge significance for a place I care about deeply – Stoke-on-Trent. These are one of the greatest Stoke on Trent regeneration schemes news this year, and also highlighted on previous blogs.
He announced that the government would support the development of a link to connect HS2 to the West Coast Mainline, allowing HS2 trains to run to and from Stoke-on-Trent station. This will mean that, in the future, you will be able to make the journey from Stoke-on-Trent to central London in little over an hour.
I would not be surprised if you missed this announcement – after all, a short trainline that links to another bigger trainline might not always be seen as frontpage news. But believe me, this is a seriously big deal for anyone who lives, works, invests or studies in the city.
“How will HS2 benefit the North? Rico? you might ask. “Should I invest in property near HS2?” Well, the reason it is such a big deal is because HS2 coming directly to the heart of the city will bring economic growth and jobs with it – all of which makes Stoke-on-Trent an even better place to invest.
So, ‘How will the HS2 benefit the property market in Stoke on Trent and Crewe? I know HS2 is a controversial topic. Some people will always see it as too expensive and too destructive to the countryside that it will cut through. I am equally sure that many people reading this blog would prefer that HS2 was not built at all.
However, the question for those of us in Stoke-on-Trent was never “ should HS2 happen here?”. Because it links London and Manchester, the line was always going to come through our local area – a route between London and Manchester could hardly avoid it. The big question was always, “is it going to stop here – or do we just get a chance to wave as it speeds past us?”
My view was always, if we are to have the disruption of HS2 cutting through our local area, then we should at least get to share the benefits of that in terms of jobs and new investment.
The work to drive the HS2 plans forward has been led by something called the Constellation Partnership, which brings together seven local authorities and two ‘Local Economic Partnerships’. They got together, because they recognised that the potential growth that can come from HS2 will impact across the whole area, and the best way to secure that was to work together.
In the area that the partnership covers, which stretches from the Cheshire Plains down into rural Staffordshire, they project that by 2040 there will be employment growth of at least 120,000 jobs – worth an extra £6.4bn to the local economy. Their boffins have worked out that, incredibly, half of that – £3.2bn – will be a direct result of HS2.
And at the centre of the Constellation Partnership sits the city of Stoke-on-Trent. This is why I was so excited to hear the Prime Minister make his announcement. Even though you might not have noticed it, with a stroke of his pen, he has just set a course that will see our city continue to grow for years to come.
HS2 will link the people of the area to jobs, and it will link customers from other areas with the goods and services that we can offer here in Stoke-on-Trent. It is not just the number of jobs – it is the sort of jobs that are expected to be created. These are in sectors such as finance, professional services and science and technology. In other words, these are high-value, well-paid, skilled jobs – and the people doing them will need great shops, cafes and restaurants. They will also need great places to live.
That is where housing comes in. It might sound silly, but HS2 could turn out to be the biggest housing investment in a generation. The money might not be directly buying the bricks and mortar that are needed for homes, but it will be creating the conditions where new and better homes are needed, and unlocking sites for new developments. The Constellation Partnership’s Growth Strategy says that by 2040 there will be 100,000 new homes delivered to support the expected growth in population – from 1,300,000 in 2017 to 1,525,000 by 2040.
All of this will impact positively on existing housing and existing communities too. In fact, the Partnership’s plan talks a lot about this – improving the quality of existing stock, and connecting communities in some parts of the city that have struggled in the past to the new opportunities that HS2 will trigger.
For people like me, who help people find great investment properties in the city, this is welcome news. In Stoke on Trent, Newcastle Under Lyme and Crewe, we are already seeing house prices rising faster than in London, Manchester and Birmingham. New investment from HS2 can only help accelerate this.
I have always believed that Stoke-on-Trent is the best place for property investment in the UK, with the sort of housing market that leads to the best yields for investors – a view that is increasingly shared by others. With the arrival of HS2 in the future, I think this will now be truer than ever.