Alan Bevan, managing director of City Residential, predicts people’s unwillingness to return to stressful commuting will make living in Liverpool city centre more popular. Tony McDonough reports
Activity in Liverpool city centre’s residential property market is “picking up” faster than expected, a leading agent claims.
And Alan Bevan, managing director of City Residential, also predicts a lessening appetite among many people for daily commuting on congested roads and packed trains will boost the attractiveness of city centre living.
Mr Bevan offers regular analysis of the Liverpool residential market in his well respected quarterly updates and says that although the city will face “challenging times” in the coming months he had faith in the strength of the local economy, and the resilience of local people.
In order to check the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, the UK Government ordered the country into lockdown with many businesses having to close. This has had a devastating impact across all sectors, not least of all bars, restaurants and hotels.
Tourism has been one of the key drivers of the Liverpool city region economy over the past decade and so the downturn will be felt more keenly here than in many other places across the country.
Mr Bevan says the vast array of bars, restaurants and leisure attractions has been a key driver for the residential sector in recent years and there is a concern that the struggles of the hospitality sector could have a knock-on effect.
He explained: “Liverpool has become one of the most popular cities in the UK. Its bar, restaurants, theatres and renowned friendly attitude has made for an ideal place for people to call home.
“With the retail, leisure and hospitality sector likely to suffer more than most there is no doubt that it will have an effect on the make-up of the city. This coupled with peoples’ current fears of living and working in built up city centres will encourage some existing and future residents to look for alternative places to live.
“We are also likely to see less foreign students return or come to the city for the 2020/2021 academic year and whether these places get filled by UK students may well depend on what the three Liverpool universities decide upon in terms of face to face or virtual learning.”
However, striking a more upbeat note, he added: “Although there are challenges ahead for the market we have been pleasantly surprised by the market activity since we reopened a few weeks ago.
“Both rental and sales demand are rising strongly and ahead of where we expected it to be. Talking to tenants and buyers it has excited us that the majority would prefer to live in the city rather than the suburbs.
“They’ve talked about not wanting to commute on potentially congested roads or packed public transport. They also have a belief that even if the city suffers over the next few months/years it will still be a great place to live.”
Despite the effect of the lockdown on the constructions and development market, a number of projects are going ahead and adding to the available stock in the city centre. Plaza 1821 in Princes Dock, within the Liverpool Waters development has now welcomed its first tenants. It is the first of of three new residential towers at the site. Moda Living’s £82m, 34-storey skyscraper, the Lexington, is also close to completion.
And Legacie Developments has continued with its £90m Parliament Square scheme in the city’s Baltic Triangle district. When complete it will offer 500 apartments across four buildings.
Mr Bevan added: “What some experts may also forget when they question the future of city centre living is how affordable Liverpool city centre remains. Its average selling price at £165,000 and average monthly rent around £700 puts it amongst the cheapest of any of the top northern cities and a large discount to the Liverpool suburbs.
“Let’s not also forget that Liverpool and scousers are a resilient bunch and will ensure that we fight this battle as well as anyone can ensuring that the city continues to build on the wonderful progress it has made over the last 10/15 years.”