Head­in­g­ley pre­pares to grad­u­ate from its stu­dent life

It’s known for its stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, but fam­i­lies and young pro­fes­sion­als look set to re­claim the streets of Head­in­g­ley. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

HEAD­IN­G­LEY has long been the best-known stu­dent area in Leeds and the char­ac­ter and vi­tal­ity of this sub­urb owes much to the bright young things who make it their home.

But the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the tran­sient stu­dent pop­u­la­tion and long-term res­i­dents has been strained for some time.

The buy-to-let bo­nanza that was nascent in the 1980s is largely to blame.

As mort­gages be­came eas­ier to ob­tain, both novice and pro­fes­sional land­lords cashed in on Head­in­g­ley’s pop­u­lar­ity and the grow­ing stu­dent pop­u­la­tion. Es­tab­lished stu­dent ar­eas flour­ished but soon be­gan to sprawl, and prop­er­ties in tra­di­tional res­i­den­tial ar­eas were bought up and carved up into as many tiny bed­rooms as pos­si­ble.

Let­ting agent Jonathan Mor­gan says: “Twenty years ago there were the stu­dent ar­eas such as Head­in­g­ley Mounts and around the cricket ground. But land­lords be­gan buy­ing fur­ther north in Beck­etts Park, Far Head­in­g­ley and St Chad’s.

“Two-bed­room houses were given base­ment and loft con­ver­sions to cre­ate six stu­dent rooms and what were four-bed fam­ily homes were sleep­ing seven stu­dents with no lounge. The qual­ity of some of this stuff is shock­ing.

“Peo­ple com­plained there were too many stu­dent houses and there were. The bal­ance was wrong.”

But the sit­u­a­tion is chang­ing as stu­dents vote with their feet. The poorer qual­ity lets with ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties on the outer edge of Head­in­g­ley are no longer de­sir­able and land­lords are strug­gling to find tenants. To­day’s stu­dents de­mand bet­ter qual­ity ac­com­mo­da­tion and there is plenty of it on of­fer, thanks to pur­pose-built blocks that have spring up all around the uni­ver­si­ties.

Prox­im­ity is an­other main mo­ti­va­tor. Traf­fic con­ges­tion in Head­in­g­ley means tak­ing a bus from its outer reaches to the univer­sity or into the city cen­tre can take a long time. So stu­dents move back to the south of the sub­urb and into Wood­house and Hyde Park. Land­lords are hav­ing to re­assess their mar­ket and many are look­ing to ap­peal to young pro­fes­sion­als.

On the back of this trend, Jonathan, well-known for his suc­cess at mar­ket­ing city liv­ing in Leeds through his epony­mous agency, has just opened a large new let­tings of­fice in Head­in­g­ley.

“We could see a gap mar­ket for pro­fes­sional rentals and that’s what we do. We don’t do stu­dent lets. A lot of the stu­dent houses are now be­ing con­verted back and let to pro­fes­sion­als and we’re ad­vis­ing land­lords that while this means a drop in rent, there is less dam­age and not as much re­dec­o­rat­ing.”

He be­lieves that when the prop­erty mar­ket re­vives, owner oc­cu­piers will also buy into the ar­eas that have been blighted by con­cerns over stu­den­ti­fi­ca­tion and shunned in favour of new­ly­fash­ion­able sub­urbs like Chapel Aller­ton.

“Peo­ple are ex­cited about Chapel Aller­ton, but Head­in­g­ley has bet­ter ameni­ties and the choice of prop­erty is also bet­ter. There are some fan­tas­tic houses here and it’s a great place to live. In a few years time it will be highly de­sir­able,” he says.

As young pro­fes­sion­als move into former stu­dent houses, the re­tail of­fer­ing looks set to change too.

“There are too many stu­dents, but that bal­ance is shift­ing and as it does and the econ­omy im­proves, you’ll get more good qual­ity shops and restau­rants com­ing into the area,” says Jonathan.

Those restau­ra­teurs and re­tail­ers may well have to put up a fight if they want to trade here. Jonathan bat­tled for four years to turn a derelict house-turned­drugs den across from the dated Arn­dale into a con­tem­po­rary of­fice for North Leeds Rentals.

“It took four years to get plan­ning per­mis­sion and 15 weeks to build. I was amazed. I hon­estly didn’t think there would be a prob­lem. I grew up here, I love Head­in­g­ley and we’ve had a lit­tle of­fice here for 14 years. I wanted to cre­ate a build­ing that was in­ter­est­ing, some­thing of qual­ity that I could be proud of. That was my main mo­ti­va­tion, be­cause if it has been purely fi­nan­cial then I would’ve given up.”

The brick-built 1930s house has been trans­formed into a stun­ning cedar clad and ren­dered prop­erty with large ar­eas of glaz­ing and a dou­ble-height en­trance. It is a 21st cen­tury state­ment that cost £500,000.

Yet such was the vit­riol af­ter Jonathan got his way that he has had hate mail and, the day be­fore our meet­ing, a spe­cial de­liv­ery.

“Some­one came in and thrust a lump of rot­ting wood and said: ‘that’s what your build­ing will look like in 10 years’ time.’

“It’s up­set­ting but then there is a sub­stan­tial mi­nor­ity of Head­in­g­ley res­i­dents who don’t like change,” he says. “But like it or not Head­in­g­ley is chang­ing and I think it will be for the bet­ter. It will be a very dif­fer­ent place in ten years time.”

JUST THE TICKET: The house is full of char­ac­ter and is per­fect for train en­thu­si­asts.

MAK­ING A STATE­MENT: North Leeds Rentals‘s own of­fice is a con­tem­po­rary con­ver­sion that has at­tracted some op­po­si­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.