Is an infrastructure boom on the horizon?

27th January 2021

By Callum Ward

In 2021, the UK is likely to enter into a temporary recession for at least part of the year. That statement requires context, and it should be said that much of that is likely to be driven by sectors that were affected by the events of 2020.

Retail, travel and hospitality all took an enormous knock last year and although they will recover quickly as restrictions are eased through spring and summer, that recovery could take some time to filter through into wider economic figures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the main measure used by economists.

Of course, we should add to this that many sectors also experienced a bumper 2020, including the property sector, where prices, demand and values all soared throughout the last 12 months.

There were also sections of retail that operate mainly online that understandably had a very good year, and it’s highly unlikely that it will plateau through 2021 as new shopping and buying habits are formed with the population now used to spending longer at home.

The high street will likely see largescale changes in the coming years as we redefine what its role is in the modern-day city and towns post-COVID-19.

All of this sits within the government’s well-publicised ‘levelling up’ agenda, which they have made clear will focus heavily on the north of England and former industrial centres. With even a temporary recession on the horizon, this will lead the government to come up with ways of boosting and stimulating the economy, and what better way to do that than with some large infrastructure projects?

2021 and levelling up

As noted by The Economist, one of the central planks of Donald Trump’s economic policy to boost American industry was a partnership between the public and private sector to get largescale infrastructure projects moving, creating jobs and economic activity.

As an example, the US government had been seeking to invite private investors to take over a number of out-of-service airports across the country in order to repurpose them.

In the UK, there was the notable introduction of the Northern Powerhouse some years ago which the new government appear to have repackaged as the levelling up agenda.

In Manchester, considered by some to be the hub of this agenda, there are a number of projects that the local council are looking to complete this year.

Headline developments to be completed in 2021 include the city’s first park in a century at the Mayfield development just behind Piccadilly station, The Factory, which will become the new home for the Manchester International Festival and “one of Europe’s most ambitious and adventurous creative programmes”.

Piccadilly Gardens in the city centre is also set to undergo a £2 million renovation and improvement, as well as brand new gardens at Worsley Hall in Salford with a stunning 154-acre plan. There are also a number of projects set to complete in the boroughs surrounding Manchester such as Stockport and Oldham, only adding to the Northern city’s regeneration.

Infrastructure and property

That’s all fine and well, but how is this likely to affect house prices and demand?

With the improvement of city centre spaces and infrastructure this inevitably leads to house price rises and property price increases as the area becomes more in demand.

We’ve written fairly extensively about how we envisage the changing nature of city centre spaces and what that will look like, but it’s now clearer that infrastructure projects may well accelerate this.

There were many that were predicting that apartment and city living would decline sharply post-COVID-19 but, as yet there has been no evidence that’s emerged to suggest this is the case.

If anything, the nature of city living itself may change to pivot away from a work focus but that’s likely to be replaced by a focus on socialising instead.

City centre and town centre properties, like properties across the UK, have seen a surge in both price and demand over the past 12 months and it’s likely that a shift away from work to social life, green spaces and leisure will make city and town centre living much more attractive in the long term.

Add to that better transport links and this could well spark a golden age for these types of property.

Did you find this article helpful?

Our most recent articles

Is an infrastructure boom on the horizon?

27 January 2021

In 2021, the UK is likely to enter into a temporary recession for at least part of the year. That statement requires context, and it should be said that much of that is likely to be driven by sectors that were affected by the events of 2020.

Retail, travel and hospitality all took an enormous knock last year and although they will recover quickly as restrictions are eased through spring and summer, that recovery could take some time to filter through into wider economic figures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the main measure used by economists.

Of course, we should add to this that many sectors also experienced a bumper 2020, including the property sector, where prices, demand and values all soared throughout the last 12 months.

There were also sections of retail that operate mainly online that understandably had a very good year, and it’s highly unlikely that it will plateau through 2021 as new shopping and buying habits are formed with the population now used to spending longer at home.

The high street will likely see largescale changes in the coming years as we redefine what its role is in the modern-day city and towns post-COVID-19.

All of this sits within the government’s well-publicised ‘levelling up’ agenda, which they have made clear will focus heavily on the north of England and former industrial centres. With even a temporary recession on the horizon, this will lead the government to come up with ways of boosting and stimulating the economy, and what better way to do that than with some large infrastructure projects?

2021 and levelling up

As noted by The Economist, one of the central planks of Donald Trump’s economic policy to boost American industry was a partnership between the public and private sector to get largescale infrastructure projects moving, creating jobs and economic activity.

As an example, the US government had been seeking to invite private investors to take over a number of out-of-service airports across the country in order to repurpose them.

In the UK, there was the notable introduction of the Northern Powerhouse some years ago which the new government appear to have repackaged as the levelling up agenda.

In Manchester, considered by some to be the hub of this agenda, there are a number of projects that the local council are looking to complete this year.

Headline developments to be completed in 2021 include the city’s first park in a century at the Mayfield development just behind Piccadilly station, The Factory, which will become the new home for the Manchester International Festival and “one of Europe’s most ambitious and adventurous creative programmes”.

Piccadilly Gardens in the city centre is also set to undergo a £2 million renovation and improvement, as well as brand new gardens at Worsley Hall in Salford with a stunning 154-acre plan. There are also a number of projects set to complete in the boroughs surrounding Manchester such as Stockport and Oldham, only adding to the Northern city’s regeneration.

Infrastructure and property

That’s all fine and well, but how is this likely to affect house prices and demand?

With the improvement of city centre spaces and infrastructure this inevitably leads to house price rises and property price increases as the area becomes more in demand.

We’ve written fairly extensively about how we envisage the changing nature of city centre spaces and what that will look like, but it’s now clearer that infrastructure projects may well accelerate this.

There were many that were predicting that apartment and city living would decline sharply post-COVID-19 but, as yet there has been no evidence that’s emerged to suggest this is the case.

If anything, the nature of city living itself may change to pivot away from a work focus but that’s likely to be replaced by a focus on socialising instead.

City centre and town centre properties, like properties across the UK, have seen a surge in both price and demand over the past 12 months and it’s likely that a shift away from work to social life, green spaces and leisure will make city and town centre living much more attractive in the long term.

Add to that better transport links and this could well spark a golden age for these types of property.

Callum Ward

Did you find this article helpful?


Our most recent articles