Cam­bridge builds a bright fu­ture

A train sta­tion open­ing next year could make this old city more de­sir­able than ever, re­ports Ni­cola Ven­ning

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Markets -

‘The red-hot hous­ing mar­ket in Cam­bridge is jobs-driven’

Be­guil­ing Cam­bridge, with its his­toric col­leges, cob­bled lanes and ex­cel­lent schools, sounds like a per­fect place to live – were it not so hard to buy a home. “Cam­bridge is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a sig­nif­i­cant high de­mand,” says Jen­nifer Mul­lucks of Gar­ring­ton, a prop­erty search con­sul­tancy. “There are bun fights for prop­er­ties in cer­tain ar­eas.”

Fam­ily homes in the Vic­to­rian sub­urb be­tween Hills Road and Trump­ing­ton Street, close to good schools such as St Mary’s and The Leys, are “of great in­ter­est”, Mul­lucks says. Four- bed­room town houses go for about £1 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Right­move.

It is a sim­i­lar story along the neck­lace of vil­lages south of the city, such as Whit­tles­ford, Fox­ton and the Shelfords. A de­tached house in Great Shelford hov­ers just shy of £960,000, ac­cord­ing to Sav­ills, while the av­er­age price of a prop­erty is £603,360.

Cam­bridge has seen prop­erty growth rates on a par with Lon­don. In the three years to July 2016, prices rose by a to­tal of 37 per cent. The av­er­age price of a home is now £442,518.

“Cam­bridge is cur­rently the most de­sired city in which to live in the whole of the UK,” says Martin Wal­she, di­rec­tor of Ch­effins es­tate agency. As well as its “sur­pris­ingly small” hous­ing stock, “the red-hot prop­erty mar­ket is pri­mar­ily jobs-driven, and cou­pled with this, Cam­bridge has some of the best ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties in the world, mak­ing it the per­fect choice for re­lo­cat­ing fam­i­lies”.

The city is now al­most as renowned for its en­ter­prise as it is for its world­class uni­ver­sity. It has one of the fastest-grow­ing economies in the coun­try. Some 58,000 peo­ple are em­ployed across 4,300 firms in its in­no­va­tion in­dus­try, from global com­pa­nies such as As­traZeneca and ARM to the high-growth start-ups of Sil­i­con Fen. Ad­den­brooke’s teach­ing hos­pi­tal is nearby, as are the science, re­search and busi­ness parks.

Em­ploy­ment in the city has grown 31.5 per cent in the 10 years to 2015 and the pop­u­la­tion is up by 11.8 per cent over the same pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to Ox­ford Eco­nom­ics, the re­search and fore­cast­ing firm.

But now the city is in dan­ger of be­com­ing a vic­tim of its own suc­cess. There is con­sid­er­able pres­sure on in­fra­struc­ture, hous­ing and work­places, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port from Sav­ills. “We are strug­gling to cope with ex­pan­sion,” says Chris Carey of Bid­wells es­tate agency.

One so­lu­tion is a hotly an­tic­i­pated new train sta­tion, which is be­ing built to the north of the city. Cam­bridge North is due to open in May 2017.

The sta­tion will be con­nect to Ely, King’s Lynn and Birm­ing­ham to the north, send­ing trains south­bound to Cam­bridge, Lon­don King’s Cross, Liver­pool Street and Stansted Air­port. The Cam­bridgeshir­e Guided Busway will also serve the sta­tion.

Near the sub­urb of Ch­ester­ton, the sta­tion will also, cru­cially, be within walk­ing dis­tance of Cam­bridge Science Park. “It will take enor­mous pres­sure off the city,” Carey says. “Peo­ple work­ing in the Science Park and Lon­don com­muters will be very at­tracted by it.”

The sta­tion has al­ready sparked in­ter­est from in­vestors and home buy­ers alike in Ch­ester­ton, a mix of early-20th-cen­tury homes and post­war semis. It is more af­ford­able than other parts of the city; the av­er­age prop­erty is £467,772, while £620,000 will cover a de­tached home.

James Hirst, 34, who runs the fit­ness com­pany Cambs Boot Camp, and his part­ner, Vicky Swift, 29, a ther­a­pist, bought a tired four-bed­room de­tached house in May. The house, which set the cou­ple back £547,500, is a fiveminute cy­cle from the new sta­tion.

“Com­pared to what you pay in the mid­dle of town, we got a lot for our money,” Hirst says. “I think there is a lot of growth po­ten­tial over the next few years.”

Other ar­eas set to ben­e­fit from the new trans­port hub in­clude the char­ac­ter­ful and bustling lo­cal vil­lages of Histon and Imp­ing­ton. The neigh­bour­hoods boast a duck pond, vil­lage green, sev­eral pubs, a wide range of shops and ex­cel­lent schools. Imp­ing­ton Vil­lage Col­lege is one of the best sec­ondary schools in the coun­try. “They are thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties but the one thing they have lacked is the ac­ces­si­bil­ity to a sta­tion,” says Carey.

From next spring, Histon and Imp­ing­ton, which are on the Guided Busway, will be three miles from the new sta­tion. “You will have the con­ve­nience of ev­ery­thing on your doorstep as well as ease of ac­cess for com­muters,” he says. The av­er­age price of a de­tached house in the area is £626,200, while ter­raced homes go for an av­er­age of £317,150.

There are sev­eral new hous­ing de­vel­op­ments in the pipe­line around Cam­bridge that are set to ben­e­fit from the new sta­tion, such as the pro­posed new town of North­stowe and the North West Cam­bridge site.

The uni­ver­sity has ded­i­cated a 150-hectare site to the project. The £1 bil­lion cam­pus will pro­vide 3,000 homes, in­clud­ing af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion, stu­dent digs and pri­vate hous­ing. A pri­mary school, com­mu­nity cen­tre, health cen­tre, su­per­mar­ket and lo­cal shops are also planned. The first phase of 1,100 homes is due for com­ple­tion next year.

“Three thou­sand pas­sen­gers are ex­pected to use the sta­tion ev­ery day,” says Wal­she. “De­mand in this area will in­crease dra­mat­i­cally as a re­sult.”

Open­ing doors: a four-bed­room house on Hum­ber­stone Road for £875,000, main (01223 214214; ch­effins.co.uk); Storeys Way, a Grade II listed house with 5,256 sq ft, is £4m, right (01223 347147; sav­ills.com)

Book­ish: a three­storey Vic­to­rian home with five bed­rooms in Ch­ester­ton, £1.1m (01223 214214; ch­effins.co.uk)

Townie: this sixbed­room house on Je­sus Green is £1.5m (01223 214214; ch­effins.co.uk)

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