With a young industrious population and unrivalled filming pedigree, Bradford is one of the UK's top investment locations
Blending urban city living with the breathtaking rural scenery of West Yorkshire, Bradford is a youthful city with an old heart and big ambition. As well as benefitting from affordable living costs and an enterprising economy, residents of Bradford are in a prime position to capitalise on major transport projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Significant funding is being poured into augmenting Bradford in a bid to embrace the city’s small-to-medium businesses industry, using its exceptional growth to enhance the region’s economy and deliver a boost to its large population’s skills and jobs.
No longer content with living in the shadow of its neighbouring towns and cities, Bradford is investing in its young populace with staunch determination today, in a bid to secure its bright future. Here are just 5 reasons why your next property investment should be in Bradford:
1 – The UK's Youngest City
Located in Yorkshire, Bradford’s affordable housing market and high rental demand has made it one of the UK’s top locations for investors. The centre of Bradford – the BD1 postcode – is home to some of the highest rental returns of anywhere in the UK, generating an average rental yield of around 8.37%.
Similarly, mortgage costs account for just 11.79% of a Bradford resident’s monthly take-home wages, making it one of the most affordable cities for single buyers in the UK.
For all generations, affordability ranks as the top concern, which makes the inherently lower price points of Bradford’s rental properties all the more enticing to the city’s notably young population.
Accounting for just under 10% of Yorkshire’s total population, Bradford is the region’s third largest city with some 532,500 people living there, and by 2030 it is expected to rise by around 6% to 565,000.
With more than a quarter of its population aged under 18, Bradford is also the youngest city in the UK. As well as this, it has a growing number of 25 to 34-year olds, dubbed “Young Urban Residents” (YURs).
These highly mobile young professionals are considered a key driver behind creating and enabling the future wealth of a city, and Bradford’s status as the most affordable city in England & Wales caters perfectly to today’s cash-conscious millennials.
This in turn maintains the city’s strong young population, whose youthful energy is being used to sow a powerful entrepreneurial spirit.
2 – The Home of Business
With its ability to supplement its own skilled workforce through unrivalled access to Leeds and Manchester, and competitively priced property markets, Bradford’s increasingly young population is turning the city into a haven for enterprising businesses.
Reasonable business rate reliefs, robust transport infrastructure, and affordable commercial spaces have resulted in Bradford being named the best place in the country to start a new business, and one of the best locations for launching a small-to-medium enterprise (SME).
The number of businesses in Bradford has grown by 16% in the last three years - more than the Leeds City Region and the rest of the UK - with around 17,620 companies calling the city home, employing more than 198,000 people and contributing significantly to the city’s £10bn economy; the ninth largest in England.
But Bradford is not only desirable for SMEs; major companies have their headquarters in the city such as Morrisons supermarkets, Yorkshire Building Society, and Hallmark Cards.
Determined to eclipse the achievements of its neighbouring towns and cities, Bradford has developed a new economic strategy that aims to make it the fastest growing economy in the UK over the next decade, which could add more than £4bn to Bradford’s local economy, deliver 20,000 new jobs and boost the skills of its substantial workforce.
Bradford’s strategy is concentrated on four key areas; supporting the city’s young and enterprising population, utilising its unique cultural assets, building on the strengths of its business growth, and enhancing its transport infrastructure.
3 – Modern Rail
Around 44,000 people commute every day between Bradford and Leeds, making it the highest concentration of commuting between any two cities in the UK. Despite this, transport investment in the city has been historically low, until recently.
Boosted by the high profile Great North Rail Project, £2.5m is being invested in order to upgrade Bradford’s railway by adding new switches and crossings which will remove current restrictions on which platforms trains are able to stop at.
As a result, delays caused by trains having to wait outside the station to approach will be reduced, meaning a more efficient and modern service for the city’s substantial commuting population.
Meanwhile, research suggests revamping the Bradford Interchange, in order to connect it to the new high speed Northern Powerhouse Rail line between Leeds and Manchester, could reinforce the North’s economy by as much as £15bn by 2060.
In a further bid to improve the sustainability and reduce the environmental impact, four rail-user groups including one in Bradford, are campaigning in favour of electrifying the city’s Interchange, in the hopes of securing funding.
Doing so, the campaigners argue, would simultaneously enhance the efficiency of Bradford’s rail network and help preserve the natural beauty of the city’s rugged moorland.
4 – Award-Winning Public Spaces
From its idyllic natural landscape to its thriving city centre, Bradford’s varied scenery can cater to virtually any taste. Two-thirds of the district is rural, and many of Yorkshire’s top countrywide tourist destinations are in close proximity.
These include the village of Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which features stunning Victorian architecture, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
For urban dwellers, significant investment has transformed Bradford’s vibrant city centre, providing entertainment for both daytime and evening explorers.
Developments include the £260m Broadway shopping centre which has over 70 shops and created approximately 2,500 permanent jobs. The developers behind the centre believed it will boost footfall in the city by as much as 40%.
One of the most recent additions to the centre is Sunbridge Wells, the first underground retail complex opened in Bradford by royal appointment in June 2017. Units are occupied by an eclectic mixture of local independent retailers, restaurants, and bars.
Bradford also has award-winning public spaces such as the City Park, a £20m square with the UK’s largest urban water feature, the Mirror Pool.
An estimated 2.25m visitor nights were spent in the district in 2016, resulting in an additional £656m to Bradford’s economy generated through tourism. This in turn is being poured back into the city to further unlock its potential and display more of its enduring cultural spirit to the world.
5 – City of Film
Bradford is a city built on an eclectic culture and a long-standing musical and theatrical history. The Alhambra Theatre, a popular venue for major touring companies including Disney and the Royal Shakespeare Company, is over 100 years old and seats more than 1,400 people, whilst a £15m restoration project to convert a former cinema into a 4,000-capacity music venue is underway.
It is also the site of acclaimed museums and art galleries including Salts Mill, a historic building that hosts several events and exhibitions throughout the year and features one of the biggest collection of works by world-renowned painter David Hockney.
However, nowhere else in the UK can compete with the city’s extensive film production and distribution heritage. In 2009, Bradford was designated as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film in recognition of its cinematographic legacy which can be traced back to the 1890s.
Some of the world’s first ‘movies’ were shown at a Kineoptoscope Parlour in Bradford, and following the Cinematograph Act of 1909 several new purpose-built picture halls were established in the city.
Since then, Bradford remains an important location for the film and TV production industry, playing host to the Bradford International Film Festival, and the UK’s longest-running animation festival. It is also the home of the National Science and Media Museum, which aims to educate and inspire the city’s residents.
Standing as one of the UK’s leading cultural hubs, enriched by its vibrant young population, and powered by a tireless vigour for business, Bradford's housing market is set to prosper, maintaining the city's strong position as a hotspot for property investments.