City & Country sets new record at the WhatHouse? Awards 2023
First time buyer Jessica Leung nearly bought her first home in Woolwich, south-east London, but she’s glad it fell through. She’s now got a two-bedroom apartment in Bristol’s Brandon Yard development and thinks the city offers all the good bits of London-without the stress. “I always saw Bristol as a student town and never thought I would want to live there,” says the 28-year-old. “But now it’s an international city.” Her job as a management consultant is still based in London, as are many of her friends. But as of next week, her train journey back there will be 17 to 21 minutes faster.
The electrification of the Great Western lines from London means that there will be a new non-stop train from Bristol Parkway into Paddington that takes just 68 minutes, as well as faster trains on the other line into London from Bristol Temple Meads, taking 1 hour and 19 minutes, with extra trains added to the route, too.
Bristol is getting closer to London in other ways: has declared Bristol the second-best city for business, and it is the second-largest digital tech cluster outside London. It is also the third-largest UK media hub outside the capital and Manchester; Channel 4 is moving to Finzels Reach, alongside the city’s first built-to-rent apartments by Grainger. Inevitably home buyers are following.
According to Knight Frank research, 5,441 Londoners moved to Bristol in 2019, up from 3,288 in 2013. “It’s a university city with great schools, and acts as a gateway to the South West. It regularly tops polls as the UK’s most liveable city,” says Sarah Wright of Savills. “The faster train has brought the city into the thought process of more buyers (as a place to commute from). There are many younger people working four days a week in London and then enjoying a long weekend in Bristol.”
Despite all the buzz about Bristol, the difference in property prices between the two cities is not noticeably closing. Hamptons International found that in 2000, homes in Bristol were 46 per cent cheaper, yet, in 2019, that different is 48 per cent; the average house price is now £3314,990. According to Zoopla, in the last year average values have increased by 3 per cent, up from 2.2 per cent last year.
So where is best to live near the city’s train stations for an easy commute? Historically fashionable residential areas like Clifton, a 20-minute walk bus ride from Temple Meads, is relatively expensive at £518,900, along with more bohemian Montpelier, Leigh Woods, Abbots Leigh, Redland and Cotham, where homes are an average of £483,530. Prices are rising fastest in BS2, an area to the north and east of the city centre.
Other popular developments that are handy for the station at Temple Meads include harbourside Wapping Wharf (where prices start from £255,00) and The General, a converted hospital, where homes start from £525,000. Around Temple Meads is the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone – a tech hub that is something like Bristol’s answer to Kings Cross – a new city quarter that promises to provide 22,000 jobs by 2021, plus 2,000 built -to-rent apartments.
For commuters to London, Bristol Parkway is also a handy option- surrounded by new areas opening up in the north of the city.