Building on a rich maritime history, Sunderland is rapidly rising as one of the UK’s top investment locations, as decades of growth and investment into its infrastructure have seen the city evolve into a modern hub for the manufacturing and digital industries.
Boasting splendid seaside landscapes, a rich culture, and a diverse mix of art and entertainment, this Northern Powerhouse city is set to continue growing. As Sunderland’s population expands, now is the perfect time to capitalise on the UK’s sixth fastest growing economy.
Here are just 5 reasons to consider Sunderland and its residential buy-to-let market as the location for your next property investment:
Image: Sunderland's Groyne & Waves
1 – Leading the Automotive Revolution
Formerly hailed as the “largest shipbuilding town in the world”, Sunderland’s history revolved hugely around the manufacturing sector. Nowadays, Sunderland is still regarded as a top-notch manufacturing hub, with internationally-renowned firms, such as Nissan, establishing their UK headquarters within the city.
Representing the UK’s largest motor manufacturer and employing over 7,000 of the North East’s working population, Nissan has become a major contributor to the city’s economy. Through effective on-site suppliers and substantial investment, Nissan’s plant in Sunderland is one of the most productive car manufacturers in Europe.
However, its output is only set to grow in the future, as part of the city’s bold 3, 6, 9 Vision includes a £500m International Advanced Manufacturing Park. A joint endeavour between Sunderland City and South Tyneside councils, and backed by £100m of central government funding, the park is expected to boost Nissan’s supply chain to more than 600,000 cars a year.
Setting the basis for Sunderland’s future growth, the development is set to bring £300m in private sector investment and 5,200 new jobs by 2026/27.
Sunderland has also welcomed other automotive firms seeking to access the city’s experienced and highly-skilled workforce. Japanese-owned automotive supplier Unipres and France-based SNOP have also invested large amounts of capital in their Sunderland plants – creating further job opportunities for those residing in the city.
Furthermore, 10% of all electric vehicles on UK roads are in the North East. Spearheading the revolution in electric cars, a £4m scheme will result in the building of a ‘filling station’ on West Wear Street, a prominent location in the city centre.
Image: Sunderland's Penshaw Monument
2 – The UK’s Digital City
In addition to hosting an advanced manufacturing sector, the city also boasts one of the UK’s most notable digital clusters, specializing in App & software development. Growth in both of these sectors has seen Sunderland’s digital tech jobs grow by 49% between 2011 and 2015.
Sunderland’s thriving digital sector stems from the establishment of Sunderland Software City in 2009 – a partnership between Sunderland’s public, private and educational sectors to support the growth of digital businesses in the city. The partnership has supported over 500 businesses and aims to create more than 2,000 jobs by 2020.
With a digital salary growth of 26% from 2012 to 2015, Sunderland’s tech industry is booming in line with global trends. Capitalising on the strength of the North East’s IT economy, which is expected to be worth around £1.1bn by 2020, the University of Sunderland is one of four regional institutions that has formed the ‘Northern Accelerator’ after being awarded £4.9m in funding from the government.
The project aims to use the university’s world-leading research to boost the region’s economy through the creation of companies and businesses across a variety of industries, including the digital sector.
As a testimony to its growing digital scene, Sunderland was awarded the title of UK Digital City in 2014 – an award given to the city that successfully improved the lives of their citizens through integrated, digital and public services.
Residents of all ages are also encouraged to engage and learn about the digital sector through locations like the FabLab, where visitors can learn to use equipment such as 3D printers, CAD software, scanners and CNC machines.
Image: Sunderland's River Wear Bridge
3 – Vital Transport Corridor
Residents of Sunderland are able to enjoy great transport links with a central station that offers direct intercity links to London, Carlisle and Middlesbrough. Sunderland’s metro system, known as the Tyne and Wear Metro, connects the city to Newcastle and other neighbouring boroughs.
Sunderland City Council has invested a huge amount of resources in improving the transport links in the city to reduce travel distance, improve access and reduce traffic. One such project is the £13.7m redevelopment of the railway station due to begin sometime in 2019.
So far, £7m of funding has been committed by transport operator Nexus and Sunderland City Council, which is preparing to submit new designs in order to attract the final £6-8m necessary.
One of Sunderland’s most significant transport projects is the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, which aims to deliver enhanced connectivity between the city centre, the Port of Sunderland, and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.
The most recent phase of the strategy is the new £117.6m Northern Spire Bridge. The bridge is set to complete in spring 2018, and will attract new jobs and investment – serving as a catalyst for further regeneration in the area.
Once finished, the next phase of the strategy will begin; a £57m dual carriageway that will link the new Northern Spire with the recently improved St Mary’s Way in the centre of the city.
Transport is vital to the success of any regional economy, and this is especially true of the strong exporting industries in the North. The Northern Powerhouse Rail programme, combined with HS2, is expected to provide enhanced access to the region’s economic hubs for 1.3 million workers.
Image: Bandstand at Rocker Park, Sunderland
4 – International Student Stronghold
As an institution of global significance, the University of Sunderland is working to boost the city’s already impressive international profile.
With campuses in London and Hong Kong, and learning institutions across 15 countries, the university is forging partnerships around the globe. This is reflected in the university’s near-20,000 strong student population, of which 41% are from overseas and representing 147 nationalities.
Over the last 20 years, Sunderland has invested substantially into its university campus. Around £130m in funding has gone towards improving its extensive facilities, including an £8.5m Science Complex and the state-of-the-art David Puttnam Media Centre.
Favourable market conditions underpin the success of the city’s student accommodation market, resulting in Sunderland being named by LendInvest as the top student town for landlords in 2016.
With innovative facilities and a dedication to expand its student population, the demand for student property in Sunderland is set to continue to grow.
Furthermore, the inherent affordability of the North, where wages are more closely aligned with the cost of living, means students in Sunderland find better value for money, from everyday living expenses to more reasonable accommodation rates.
Sunderland is a city that invests significantly into its students, ensuring that the standards of teaching they receive adequately prepare them for employment. Over 94% of students from the University of Sunderland enter employment or further study within six months of graduating, and with the university focused on bolstering its student population, demand for student property is likely to remain strong.
Image: Penshaw Woods
5 – Cultural Momentum
Through substantial redevelopment, Sunderland’s city skyline is undergoing radical change with several projects currently in pipeline to enhance the city’s rich maritime and cultural heritage.
Aside from offering beautiful scenery, Sunderland’s seafront is also welcoming over £7 million of investment in the form of the Sunderland Seafront Regeneration project that will see the area transformed into a family-friendly resort.
The city’s council is also investing £2.4m to revamp Sunderland’s square, found in close vicinity to the recently-restored Dun Cow Pub and the old fire station. The square is being transformed into an arts and cultural venue to create a vibrant plaza for Sunderland’s residents to enjoy.
Sunderland’s nightlife is also known for offering a great choice of entertainment with a variety of trendy bars and restaurants. The city’s Stadium of Light, one of the largest football grounds in England, welcomes thousands of fans as it is the home arena for Sunderland AFC. The sporting arena has also been used for concerts by superstars like Beyoncé, Oasis, Coldplay and Rihanna.
Furthermore, planning permission has been granted for a new £8.2m venue for music, dance and drama, whilst a seven-year £60m programme titled Twenty Four Seven was recently launched which seeks to boost the city’s cultural profile, backed by the momentum built during Sunderland’s City of Culture 2021 bid.
With growing manufacturing and digital sectors, excellent international and transport links and thriving social life, Sunderland’s buy-to-let market is set to become an invaluable asset for any property portfolio.
PrinvestUK is delighted to bring purchasers a selection of student properties and residential buy-to-let apartments in the heart of one of the UK’s most vibrant and sought after cities.
Please visit our Sunderland Page to find out more information about our exciting opportunities.