Art of suc­cess re­vealed as in­vest­ing in cul­ture pays off for prop­erty scene

Cul­ture, coun­try­side and mo­tor­way con­nec­tions. Why buy­ers are wak­ing up to Wake­field. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - This con­ver­sion has a sit­ting room, din­ing room and kitchen, three dou­ble bed­rooms, two bath­rooms, court­yard gar­dens and park­ing. Con­tact:

WHEN thou­sands of vis­i­tors beat a path to your door, you know you have some­thing to shout about.

In Wake­field’s case it’s The Hep­worth. The gallery, named af­ter the city’s fa­mous daugh­ter Bar­bara, fea­tures her sculp­tures along­side a fab­u­lous col­lec­tion of Modern Bri­tish Art. Since open­ing in May it has at­tracted 330,000 peo­ple.

It has pulling power and its bold ar­chi­tec­ture ra­di­ates a con­fi­dence that could well spread to the prop­erty mar­ket. Gallery vis­i­tors who have never been to Wake­field be­fore re­alise just how ac­ces­si­ble the city is by both rail and road. It is min­utes from the M62 and the M1, has the A1 on its bound­ary and boasts a main­line sta­tion that can get you to Lon­don in about two hours.

If The Hep­worth crowds hap­pen to glance in es­tate agency win­dows ,they’ll also see how af­ford­able prop­erty can be.

Ac­cord­ing to Home­track, the av­er­age ter­raced house costs about £100,000, though you can get a good starter home from £80,000. A semi-de­tached house is about £129,000 and the av­er­age price for a de­tached home is £217,000. All this is un­der the county av­er­age.

Es­tate agent Melanie Robin­son, of Si­mon Blyth, says: “It is cheaper than Leeds and we have some lovely vil­lage lo­ca­tions close to the city cen­tre. It’s also a very easy com­mute to Leeds, Sh­effield and Hud­der­s­field.”

The most de­sir­able ar­eas in­clude Heath, San­dal, Wool­ley, Newmiller­dam and Not­ton to the south.

Crig­gle­stone, which is two miles from junc­tion 39 of the M1, is gain­ing in pop­u­lar­ity as are prop­er­ties to the north.

Si­mon Blyth has seen an in­crease in sales in Out­wood, Loft­house and Stan­ley, which are closer to Leeds.

“Buy­ers are broad­en­ing their hori­zons,” says Melanie.

Claire Ken­dall, of Richard Ken­dall es­tate agency, agrees and adds that fam­i­lies favour Os­sett, Hor­bury and Wren­thorpe and are look­ing to Nor­man­ton to get more value for money. They are at­tracted by the school­ing and Wake­field has some good schools in­clud­ing the soughtafter St James pri­mary school at Crig­gle­stone. For those who pre­fer pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion, there are the highly-re­garded Queen El­iz­a­beth Gram­mar, Wake­field Girls High and Sil­coates Schools.

Ameni­ties in­clude prox­im­ity to coun­try­side, the York­shire Sculp­ture Park and a new shop­ping cen­tre that has given the re­tail sec­tor a boost. Trinity Walk has a Deben­hams, a Next and an Asda Liv­ing store.

The prop­erty mar­ket also seems to be perk­ing up.

Claire Ken­dall says: “We are sell­ing more houses than this time last year. In the last seven weeks we have sold £11m worth of prop­erty. Sales are across the board, in­clud­ing first-time buy­ers. Although it’s largely a lo­cal mar­ket, we have peo­ple mov­ing over from Leeds be­cause prices here are more af­ford­able.”

Melanie adds: “Like ev­ery­one else we have been fairly quiet for much of the year but Septem­ber, Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber have been a lot busier. In­vestors are back on the scene and we are see­ing a lot of cash buy­ers who have been in rented ac­com­mo­da­tion for a while and want to get back on the prop­erty lad­der. First-time buy­ers are also com­ing to the mar­ket mainly helped by par­ents.”

Prices have plateaued, she says, af­ter fall­ing be­tween 12 and 20 per cent over the past three years but with ac­tiv­ity in the mar­ket and in­vest­ment in the city, the fu­ture looks brighter.

“The Hep­worth is cer­tainly a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence. It is bring­ing a lot of peo­ple in and giv­ing us recog­ni­tion out­side the area,” adds Claire. “We’ve also got the Mer­chant Gate de­vel­op­ment of of­fices and apart­ments be­hind the sta­tion, Trinity Walk shop­ping cen­tre and Wake­field Col­lege is also be­ing re­fur­bished. There is so much in­vest­ment go­ing into the city that it’s hard to ig­nore.

“We’ll prob­a­bly al­ways be in the shadow of Leeds but we have re­tail­ers and of­fices open­ing here. Things are hap­pen­ing and it’s a very ex­cit­ing place to be.”

Si­mon Blyth, tel: 01924 361631, www.si­mon­blyth.co.uk

CUL­TURAL DRAW: The Hep­worth has put the spot­light on Wake­field and is at­tract­ing thou­sands of vis­i­tors to the city.

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