Property Investment in Preston
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Preston: Changing Fortunes
Preston’s modern history began with the industrial revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The city was at the centre of cotton production, with more than 40 mills dominating its skyline by 1835, providing employment for thousands of people across Lancashire.
Preston was also home to docks that flourished from 1800 onwards. Workers unloaded grain from ships and transported it to other urban centres in the north, such as Manchester, by rail and canal.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Preston’s economy diversified further. The Leyland steam wagon company (later Leyland Motors) was set up, and the Courtaulds rayon factory opened, providing yet more employment for the 150,000-strong population.
Unfortunately, Preston’s golden age didn’t last long. After 1950, the cotton industry went into terminal decline, British Leyland started laying off workers, and the Courtaulds factory closed, rendering more than 3,000 people unemployed. From the 1960s, the town went through a period of hardship and deprivation, forming a legacy that persists to this day.
In the early 21st century, though, Preston is showing signs of sustained recovery, something that should attract the attention of property investors. In recent years, the city has been discussed as one of the most promising buy-to-let locations in the country, thanks to economic development and regeneration projects, the presence of successful universities, and new big businesses.
The list of Preston regeneration projects is too extensive to list in full, but here are some highlights:
- City Living Strategy, a vision to transform Preston’s city centre into a thriving hub and example of modern living
- Harris Quarter Regeneration, a regeneration project that is already underway, designed to increase footfall and spending in the city centre
- Preston Station Quarter Project, a new project involving the construction of high-grade offices and commercial space close to the railway station
- University of Central Lancashire Masterplan, a project to further develop one of the UK’s most famous universities and create truly world-class teaching, research and leisure facilities
Investors should note that Preston’s future regeneration itinerary is substantial and only just getting started. The City Council is currently drafting the 15-year City Investment Plan, which will set out its vision, including regenerating the city centre, improving opportunities for skills and enterprise, and enhancing culture.
Again, for property investment in Preston, this is exciting news. It means that the city is serious about turning its economic fortune around, potentially enabling it to attract high-value tenants in the future.
Preston is also becoming a more vibrant commercial hub. Large employers now include:
- The National Health Service
- Local government offices and the
- Lancashire Constabulary
- The region’s four universities (including Lancaster University, University of Central Lancashire, Edgehill University, and University of Cumbria)
- Supermarkets, including Tesco, Asda, Booths and M&S
- James Hall & Co.
- Co-operative Bank
- BAE Military Air Solutions
- Leyland Trucks
- Rolls Royce
- EDF Energy
- Fox Biscuits
- Hinduja Global Solutions
Given the diversity of Preston’s economy and some of the high-tech enterprises in the region, wages are likely to rise in the future. This should have a knock-on effect on the property market, so investors who enter the market today could benefit from substantial capital appreciation and rising rents in the future.
Preston's Property Market
Compared to the UK as a whole, Preston’s property market is much more affordable.
The most in-demand parts of Preston to live in are:
- The City Centre
These areas have excellent cycle links, attractive period properties, and access to the River Ribble and docklands.
Why Is Preston A Good Choice For Property Investors?
Property investment in Preston is becoming a more popular option because of its diversifying economy and comprehensive regeneration projects. The city is looking to leave its industrial legacy behind and meet the economic challenges of the 21st-century head-on.
The city is a great choice for property investors because:
- It is at the heart of nearly a dozen regeneration projects, which are boosting the city’s economic progress and making it a more desirable place to live
- Property prices are low compared to the national average, offering an affordable route into a city with plenty of growth potential
- It’s the third-largest city in a high-performing region, with property prices in the North West forecast to grow faster than anywhere else in the country over the next few years
- It is developing a fantastic reputation, with plenty of awards and recognition (it was named the most improved city in the UK in 2018, and in 2022 it topped the bill as the best place to live and work in the North West)
- It has a young, talented population with a steady supply of graduates from UCLan and other universities – who are sticking around and working in skilled employment
If Preston can follow through on its plans over the next 15 years, the city could become one of the most desirable places to live in the UK, never mind just the North West.
Its development so far and potential for further growth should generate exceptional returns for property investors in Preston, as happened in other small cities in the 2000s, like Cambridge and Oxford.
If you’re interested in learning more about investment opportunities in Preston, please get in touch with our team.
All information accurate as of December 2022.