Wigan Identified as Next Property Investment Hot-spot

By: Elisha Burberry

Wigan in the north-west of England has been identified as an investment property hotspot by property experts Frank Knight, who believe that the ?700 million of regeneration funds due to be invested in the area over the next decade, will drive the town's success.

The area offers many factors that Frank Knight believes are ideal to encourage property investment, such as the building of business and retail parks and plans for new residential developments and leisure facilities. Given that Wigan's heritage, as with most of the North-West, was based around heavy industry there is plenty of scope to transform the largely industrial landscape and offer a bright, modern future which is encouraging news to both residents and potential investors.

Wigan Councillor John O'Neill, who has championed the regeneration cause for the town, says that the private sector is already aware of the development potential and has started investing. He said: 'This news is quite significant for any town, but particularly for Wigan, which has traditionally been seen as an industrial area. Over ?700 million is due to be invested in Wigan Borough over the next ten years encompassing everything from new business parks to retail and leisure facilities to residential developments.'

The research carried out by Frank Knight provided evidence that the north-west in general is continuing to provide better than average returns with towns such as Warrington, Preston and Bolton as well as Wigan offering the strongest returns. Investment in industrial buildings is providing slightly better returns than that in retail premises, and demand is constant, especially from overseas buyers and big institutions. Abid Jaffry, head of investment for the North West at Frank Knight, said: 'Commercial property continues to attract money from a number of sources and continues to give excellent returns over the medium and long term.'

He continues: 'Service sector growth is a key driver leading to an increase in demand for quality office space and industrial accommodation around the key centres of Liverpool, Manchester and Preston. They are magnets for investment as rents have grown steadily, particularly in the office market.'

With interest rates edging higher and inflation now seemingly under control Knight Frank expect the UK economy to continue its expansion throughout 2007 and 2008. The figures from their review of commercial property investment bear out that optimism; in the year to April 2007, returns from all sectors stood at 14.8%. Granted, that was a reduction on the 12-year high of 21.6% in July 2006, but is still significantly outperforming returns from gilts and equities over medium and long term, encouraging news and one of the reasons why investment in Wigan is looking such an attractive proposition.

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