Leeds will be like the roaring twenties says property expert as new developments continue to boom
Leeds is set to experience a post COVID boom to emulate the "roaring twenties" predicts a leading property expert.
Jonathan Morgan, who directed his own sales and lettings business in the city centre for several years before joining forces with fellow Yorkshire agent, Linley and Simpson, says the trends are changing, the demographic demand is differing and levels of interest are as high now as they were before the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year.
It comes as just last week permission was granted at a meeting of Leeds City Council for 783 units on a plot of land at Whitehall Road and Globe Road. Meanwhile, Citu's 'The Secret garden' development on the South Bank - boasting a car free landscape, yoga by the river and a commute to work by paddle-board - recorded its best weekend for sales last month for two years.
At The Ironworks, a development by the UK's leading responsible real estate business, PfP igloo, of 68 new homes made up of townhouses, apartments and penthouses prices start at £155,000 for a one bedroom apartment and £237,500 for an apartment with two bedrooms. This is in Holbeck where there has been a mass exodus of the community, mass demolition and several high profile debates about the managed zone, which is the only legal red light district in the UK.
Thirty of the 68 new homes have been snapped up and estate agents are not even half way through the sales campaign.
Mr Morgan told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "All the signs, from enquiry levels throughout the last year are that the demand is exactly as it was. We need to get the market opened up and back to what it was."
It is also indicative of a change in demand and approach when it comes to city centre living.
The tall skyscrapers with one bedroomed, two at a push, boxy apartments are still sought after but, prior to the pandemic, applications were coming forward that went further than this.
Some other notable developments, aside from Citu and The Iron works, can be found at Kirkstall Forge and the gap between the city centre and Holbeck.
CEG is the mastermind behind the Kirkstall Forge project where the three to five bedroomed houses will have spacious high ceilings, open staircases, roof lights and open plan living as well as a selection of gardens and private roof terraces on different floors to maximise views of the woodland, waterside and across the valley. Apartments will range from studios, one, two and three bedrooms.
Citylife is creating Springwell Gardens, off Whitehall Road, and that will see 223 one, two and three bedroom apartments with private roof terraces, skyline views, a residents-only garden, private courtyards, Juliette balconies, Porcelanosa kitchens and bathrooms.
Get Living is behind East Village in London, formerly the athlete's village which housed thousands of bed spaces for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Its chief executive is Rick de Blaby who is also a former chief executive of MEPC - the firm bringing forward the re-development of Wellington Place.
All these developments are paving the way for people to change their city centre pad along with their lifestyle - something that previously would have had to be done in Leeds suburbia.
Mr Morgan explained: "A couple are in a one bedroomed flat, they want to step up to a semi or a detached. It is hard to do that in the city because the majority of the residential has been done for minimal risk and investors. They are still the engine room of the city centre and most people will rent them because that is what they can afford.
"We need diversity and different types of developers have to come to the market. Citu and igloo are good quality houses, split level apartments and terraces; Ironwords is apartments, houses and penthouses; the Get Living model is really quite scientific about how they model houses. 783 units is a big number but it changes the idea of how you can live there.
"150 to 200 units is said to create a neighbourhood so 783 is another model. You will have in that space balconies, access to gardens or roof terraces. On top of that they are building this community hub, you can go to a co-working hangout, sit in a bar and there is the volume of people. 783 flats will probably give you 1300 residents."
The different types of development are also bringing a new client - and a new price range.
While he says, Leeds still falls behind Manchester in the quality and scope of its property developments, it is starting to catch up. A recent client wanted to re-locate, wanted to down-size and live somewhere aspirational. Their budget was around £800,000 and Linley with Morgans found them a penthouse with the price tag, but a few years ago Leeds would have lost that sale to Cheshire.
And, Mr Morgan is testament to the city living model himself. He and his wife re-located from the suburbs for city convenience and says, living in lockdown Leeds added another dimension to their lives.
He said: "We are in the top floor of a mill on the river and absolutely love it. I can't imagine being anywhere else. People said all the time 'has it been awful?' It has been amazing, we have not had to think about anything. It has been a bonus that there has been no people and no traffic, we have lived in a quiet city centre. We like the buzz and that is one of the reasons we moved and you can feel it getting busier again.
"One of the best things about living in the city centre is the over-riding sense of simplicity in your life, you can have as much or as little as you want. We have been doing urban walks, looking at architecture, history and views across the city that people just don't know.
"I am as confident as I have ever been that we are going in the right direction. You can start to see that the grip of the pandemic is subsiding with the vaccine - we are at a critical shift. I am in Leeds all the time, I can see the work going on and when it comes back, it will be like the roaring twenties."