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North Lincolnshire, Yorkshire And The Humber: Economic Conditions That Promise Growth
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As in civilisations past, seaports are engines for human development in northeast England. But renewable energy is what heats up real estate investment here.
To say that North Lincolnshire and the Humber are brimming with energy is neither an exaggeration nor a lazy metaphor. Between traditional fossil fuel depots and a rapidly growing renewables (wind) industry - aided in no small part by the fortuitous Humber estuary - the power generated by the region is real, an economic booster and reason for the region’s considerable growth trajectory.
This is because water and access to the sea hold a two-fold promise in an era of energy alternatives. A £3 billion Government initiative to build the country’s largest deepwater port, the South Humber Gateway project, naturally makes the area a depot for trade. But the added value is in the nature of wind energy: winds blow most consistently across the water, therefore this port is a great place to launch the huge turbines heading to North Sea marine wind farms. A significant project involving a £450 million investment, the Able Marine Energy Park on the Humber estuary, has survived all court challenges as of early February 2015 and is expected to create 4,000 jobs in the wind turbine-manufacturing sector.
To a strategic land developer, this certainly is good news. Those jobs mean a likely inflow migration to the region that requires new homes, new commercial development and new services.
The existing energy companies along the Humber mean this is a region with the expertise, infrastructure and skills to foster that growth, be it in traditional fuels or renewables such as wind turbines. The ports of Immingham (which handles about a quarter of the UK’s energy-efficient rail freight), Grimsby (where Centrica, Siemens, Res Offshore, E.ON and Dong Energy already have operations focused on North Sea wind farms) and Goole (a key distribution hub for companies that include Tesco and E-buyer, as well as very large onshore wind turbine components) are already there. The waterway serves three of the world’s largest wind farms and ranks number one in the UK’s biofuel production.
But that is not the only reason investors involved in UK property funds might be drawn to the region. The local economy is a veritable smorgasbord of industry: transport (rail, road, mass transit and air, including the Leeds Bradford International Airport and relatively new Robin Hood Airport); manufacturing (Tata Steel Europe in Scunthorpe), food processing (Framingham, Crosby), oil refineries (Immingham), chemicals (Saltend in Hull and East Cowick), among many others. The region’s population of more than five million people put its economy on par with many countries in the European Union and abroad.
Yet, housing in Yorkshire and the Humber is in critically short supply, as in the rest of England, according to an April 2014 report from the National Housing Federation. The supply-demand dynamics show that over the decade from 2002 to 2012, house prices rose by 81 per cent while average wages rose just 25 per cent. Private rents rose by 34 per cent over that same time period, with an anticipated increase by another 42 per cent by 2020. Currently, less than half the homes that need to be built are built each year. With continued, robust growth on the horizon, those interested in UK land investment have a clear opportunity.
To investors from outside the UK, the general region around the Humber - which includes Lincolnshire and Yorkshire - is a reminder that economic activity and investment opportunities are not only in London and the South East. Geography, the costs of goods, land and labour make these areas increasingly attractive to industry and development. Where costs of living are increasingly driving young professionals and other workers out of London – thus creating challenges for employers – the eyes of executives and planners alike turn elsewhere. Developments in the North East area are likely to draw young professionals who see a better quality of life away from the Capital City.
Individuals and institutions who invest in real estate funds will keep a keen eye on such projects as the South Humber Gateway project. Of course, an investment always needs to fit individual asset-building goals, and as such they should speak with an independent financial advisor to discuss if and when such projects meet their long-term objectives.
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