The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement has sparked mixed reaction within the property sector.
The additional stamp duty for residential buy-to-let property investors may be regarded by some as a fair means of slanting the market in favour of owner-occupiers but, like many such policies, it is likely to stint market recovery up here in the north away from the prime residential areas.
Help to Buy continues with an ISA package and these initiatives have certainly assisted the new homes market significantly.
The extension of Small Business Relief for business rates on commercial premises is welcome news for the many small businesses who are just finding their feet again after the prolonged recession.
Conversely, the withdrawal of additional rates allowances on town centre retail premises seems misguided for Towns in various parts of the UK that still have a sizeable amount of unlet shops that have been vacant for some time.
Details of new Enterprise Zones are awaited with interest.
The planned upgrades to Crewe and Leeds rail stations in preparation for HS2 and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ will be seen by some as a step in the right direction for our rail infrastructure.
However the point has been made that the branch line network needs building back up again in some locations to reduce the pressure on the roads….and the shortage of rolling stock is apparent on some journeys where carriages are woefully inadequate to meet demand.
In addition, whilst there is a well-documented shortage of new housing, both public transport and schools infrastructure are currently insufficient to cater for this in many locations. How will this be funded? Is it reasonable or even realistic for the developer to pick up the tab and is HS2 really more important than these other aspects? No doubt politicians and strategists will need to get their heads around this and it is to be hoped that, for once, a coordinated and holistic approach will prevail. Not everyone is in agreement then about whether HS2 should be the top priority.
Overall 2015 has been a good year for commercial property with more enthusiasm for new development than we have seen for several years. Bank lending on property is said to be back at 2006 levels, though criteria remains strict, and of course, it would be wrong for an over-relaxed approach to lead to the overheating that we have seen in the past.
On that note, we wish our clients and readers a peaceful and prosperous 2016.