Preston docks

Preston wins top planning award for transformational housing growth

Preston City Council earned a prestigious planning award for its strategy that is transforming the city. Preston continues to be an example for other small cities and towns.

Recently, Preston City Council’s City Living Strategy nabbed the top prize at the Royal Town Planning Institute Awards for Planning Excellence 2021. The city’s Planning Department also won team of the year. The City Living Strategy is a vision to transform Preston’s city centre and inner suburbs into a series of vibrant neighbourhoods.

Dyan Currie, chief planner of Brisbane City Council and chair of the judging panel, comments: “Preston City Council’s City Living Strategy is a worthy winner of the Silver Jubilee Cup. The judges were impressed by its proactive approach to the making of positive and impactful improvements to the city, noting particularly the use of innovative mechanisms to involve and engage with the local community.

“A human rights impact assessment is a unique addition to the strategy, setting a really positive tone for how planning can benefit all in a variety of ways. This project is highly relevant to the ‘levelling up’ agenda for the North and is transferable across the UK.”

Housing growth

Through the City Living project, Preston City Council is helping deliver much needed high-quality city centre accommodation. The council, along with Hive Land & Planning, are looking to “de-risk” 50 brownfield sites to attractive private investment. This will lead to the building of more than 3,000 homes.

Chris Hayward, director of development and housing at Preston City Council, says: “We have a vision to grow Preston into a modern and vibrant city, and attractive, affordable accommodation for residents is vital for this aim. We’re pleased this work has been recognised by the judging panel.”

Development, investment and regeneration

Over the past 10 years, Preston has seen a significant transformation and has become a thriving community. The city council has also focused on improving connectivity and walking and cycling routes. Additionally, Preston has been awarded £20.9m for a series of regeneration projects through the government’s Towns Fund, brining further investment and development to the city.

Preston is setting an example for other towns and cities across the UK. The way the council has also built up investment and wealth within the city and surrounding area has now become known as the Preston model. It’s as an example of how to successfully regenerate an area.

With this investment and improvements to the city, Preston has also become a property investment hotspot. It was even home to one of the busiest housing markets throughout 2020. Additionally, with competitive prices, it’s becoming a popular location for homebuyers as well.

Investing in commuter towns

Preston is an important commuter town of Manchester. Well-connected towns and small cities like, Preston and Stockport, are expected to see strong demand from both homebuyers and tenants. More property investors are following suit as well with affordable entry prices and strong rental demand.

Recently, there has been a shift in rental trends. This includes changes to location preferences. Demand has increased significantly for housing in commuter towns. With the rise of more flexible working arrangements, many tenants are considering further flung locations.

Additionally, the search for more space ensues. Outside of large cities, commuter towns can often provide more spacious properties. These areas are typically also home to more affordable house prices and rental costs. Moving forward, this rental trend will likely continue. This is due to people making significant changes to work-life balances in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Established and up-and-coming commuter towns, especially those in the north of England, could prove to be long-term buy-to-let investment hotspots. If you’re looking to buy away from a large city centre, keep an eye on commuter and peripheral towns set to benefit from HS2.

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