Over the past decade, millions of pounds of both public and private investor funds have been funnelled into Salford Quays, once the home of one of the UK’s busiest docks. Upon its closure in 1982, the area of Salford Quays was left largely unused, until a regeneration scheme completely revolutionised the area. Thanks to a multitude of public and private investments, the area is now home to tourist attractions like the famous Lowry Theatre, the Imperial War Museum and the Lowry Outlet shopping centre, among others.
However, the true turning point for Salford Quays came in 2005, when the area was shortlisted by the BBC as a potential new site for their brand new relocation project, decentralising their headquarters from London to a cheaper regional location. With all its potential, the BBC was enamoured with the picturesque waterfront that Salford Quays had to offer, as well as acres of prime space that could fill a multitude of purposes, and because of this was selected in 2006 as the BBC’s new home. Thus the concept for MediaCityUK was born, a bespoke media hub on the waterfront, set to house broadcasting studios, state-of-the-art offices and retail space. Fast forward three years and, in 2011, the £650 million vision for MediaCityUK became a reality when the BBC moved to its new home. The move was so successful that, in the wake of the BBC’s move, more and more companies followed suit and flocked from London to Salford Quays, hoping to emulate the BBC’s success. Such businesses included fellow UK broadcaster ITV, along with other media powerhouses like dock10, one of Europe’s leading digital media service providers.
Now, in 2014, MediaCityUK, and the area of Salford Quays, is truly thriving. Affectionately nicknamed a ‘northern powerhouse’, the first phase of MediaCityUK, a 36 acre site complete with offices, studios, retail space and even an outdoor piazza, is now home to over 200 businesses, including a brand new bespoke subsidiary of the renowned Salford University. The site has gone from strength to strength since its completion in 2011, with the BBC and ITV alone accounting for over 3,000 jobs on the site. MediaCityUK has also enjoyed an abundance of attention, with a ream of positive press attention and a tourist influx of over 2.8 million in 2012 alone.
With an influx of people looking to live and work close to the vibrant and ever-expanding MediaCityUK site, demand has skyrocketed for prime residential property in the area. The BBC’s first phase of relocation in 2011 led to the migration of 2,700 workers, and since then demand for residential housing near MediaCityUK has only increased. Following the BBC’s lead, young professionals too are following the national trend of relocating from London to the Salford and Greater Manchester areas, recognising the potential that this burgeoning region has to offer. Businesses, homeowners and investors alike are actively choosing to relocate to the Manchester area, thanks to an abundance of benefits that include lower commercial and residential property prices, and a generally lower cost of living. To highlight this emerging trend, the borough of Salford has been named the UK’s property hotspot for 2014, thanks to the influx of people flocking to the area on the back of the success of the MediaCityUK site, with people desperate to live and work close to such a vibrant and emerging area.
So, it is in this economy of increased consumer demand that the second phase of MediaCityUK has been approved wholeheartedly by Salford City Council and is well underway. Looking to extend the site, MediaCityUK is looking to effectively utilise the 60 acres of space at their disposal when considering plans for expansion, needing to take into consideration the need for bespoke housing in and around the MediaCityUK site. Thanks to its growing popularity, Salford Quays has gained coveted status of becoming a ‘UK’s property hotspot’, and because of the surge in young professionals seeking residence in MediaCity, the area is enjoying mass expansion from an influx of new-build developments to be commissioned on the site. To accommodate the growing population of the area, the second phase of MediaCityUK is set to house some incredible developments, including X1 Media City, the biggest residential development in the North West providing 1,036 much-needed residential apartments, and will also include 87,000 sq ft local retail space, 2.3m sq ft office space, and other such impressive developments like Port Salford, to increase tourism to the area. Further investment of this magnitude, part of the council’s 20-year plan for the MediaCityUK site, goes to show the area’s ever-growing popularity.
It is clear that demand is rife for prime luxury residential housing in the area, so situating the North West’s biggest residential development in such a prime location is further good news for the area. The second phase of MediaCityUK is set to be just as popular as its pre-established counterpart, as the first phase has proved to have plenty of potential and can hold its own as the site of Europe’s first purpose-built media hub. In the midst of constant investment in Salford Quays after the incredible success of the first fully completed phase, it looks like MediaCityUK’s success is not likely to stop.
Both house and rental prices in the area have soared thanks to the popularity of MediaCityUK and the surrounding Salford Quays area. According to property website Zoopla, the average value of a home in Salford has increased by 12% since January, and now stands at £138,619. This incredible growth rate is higher even than London, who in comparison only recorded an 8.2% increase in the same period. Because of this, average rent in Salford Quays is now in excess of £600, meaning that investors in the area are benefitting from higher returns on investment. In 2014, rental yields in the North West are higher than its London counterpart, with investors in the North West benefitting from average yields of 6.4% compared to London’s 5.5%.
The area of Salford Quays has changed beyond recognition in the past ten years, and it looks like the regeneration and investment into the area is set to continue way into the future. Salford Quays has already established itself as a highly sought-after destination and, with further investment planned in the near future, it looks as if the regeneration process in Salford Quays has only just begun.