A LEEDS property expert is warning that more residential developments are urgently needed in the city centre to keep up with a rise in demand.
Jonathan Morgan, managing director at Morgans, believes 2015 will be a strong year for the market – but says around 1,000 more apartments are needed to keep up with development across the rest of the city centre.
Morgans manages Leeds city centre’s largest property portfolio and is seeing occupancy figures of over 99 per cent, with high demand for quality apartments in core locations close to Trinity Leeds, Park Row, Briggate and Leeds train station.
Mr Morgan said: “Leeds is enjoying a fast improving city centre living environment and is quickly building a reputation as one of the UK’s premier retail destinations, so its residential market and the steady capital growth that apartment values enjoyed in 2014 will no doubt continue to flourish in 2015.
“However, the rentals market will still dominate market activity.
“We often have three or four people trying to rent every property we bring to the market and often homes that are finished to a high standard and in a good location will let in less than a day due to the shortage of high quality apartments across the city centre.
“To put it into perspective, when we opened our doors back in 1997, there were only around 800 or so living in the city.
“Today there are approximately 11,000 apartments in Leeds city centre, which are home to around 14,000 residents and we estimate that only about 100 of these homes are currently sitting empty.”
He added: “Unfortunately, the supply problem won’t be fixed in 2015 or indeed, anytime soon.
“Leeds is the only major city in the UK without a significant city centre residential scheme currently on site and yet it has such a strong economy.
“Our estimates suggest the market could comfortably accommodate another 1,000 apartments in core locations but there are only around 100 in the pipeline over the next two years.”
Councillor Elizabeth Nash (Lab, City and Hunslet) said: “I wouldn’t object to more residential development in the city centre. I certainly think that having residents in the city centre has changed it for the better.
“Not everyone wants a house with a garden in the suburbs and if they work in the city centre it’s logical that they would want to live there as well.”
Mr Morgan also predicts a positive year ahead for the city centre residential sales market.
He added: “Last year we saw growing numbers of owner-occupiers and first-time buyers snapping up apartments as mortgage finance improved – this should continue.”