Hot Spot: Hartlepool

With politics out of the way, residents in post-election Hartlepool can take a satisfying look at the economics of the housing market, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

With the by-election behind it, Hartlepool's citizenry can return to the more normal activity of watching property values rise. And an apt place to conduct this pastime is at one of the sparkling new watering holes at the marina, the redevelopment of which has boosted property values.

With the by-election behind it, Hartlepool's citizenry can return to the more normal activity of watching property values rise. And an apt place to conduct this pastime is at one of the sparkling new watering holes at the marina, the redevelopment of which has boosted property values.

According to Halifax Bank, Hartlepool house prices rose 23 per cent in the year from April 2003, and according to a local estate agent Richard Burn of Michael Poole, "the boom has been phenomenal. Investors were among the first to spot the comparative cheapness of Hartlepool, which is usually among the last places to feel the ripples".

Burn says that prices have now "tailed off" in line with national trends, but Hartlepool's future prospects are solid. "The town has enjoyed a lot of economic investment over the past decade, and lots of companies are coming here, especially in retail. Shopping is better, and we now have an impressive marina and historic quay with trendy bars and restaurants where people want to live and spend time. Residential developments at the marina are selling well, even flats without waterside views. A former drydock is also being developed, which will connect Old Hartlepool, the Headland, with the newer part of town." Confident of continuing demand, developer Jomast plans to build 1,000 new units at the quay.

The town centre has terraces that still sell for less than £50,000 and appeal primarily to investors, and nearby but a world away in West Park, large homes start at about £220,000 and sell to owner-occupiers. "Hartlepool has a wide choice of good properties, and the locals like to stay here," says Burn. "And now that we have more employment, people don't have to leave to get a decent job. I think the long-term outlook is very good."

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Hartlepool has a direct train service to Manchester and Darlington, which has a fast service to London (2 hours, 30 minutes) and Edinburgh. International airports are located at Teesside and Newcastle.

Marina

The historic quay is home to two historic ships, both built locally: the three-masted warship HSM Trincomalee, Britain's oldest floating warship, and the Wingfield Castle, a paddle steamer used as a ferry on the Humber estuary. Built in 1817, the Trincomalee was too late for the war against Napoleon but is more than holding its own against the enemy across the Atlantic. "Don't believe the Americans' claim that the USS Constitution is the oldest. They drydock it for long periods," exclaims a Trincomalee diehard.

Attractions

Not to be confused with the progressive school in Suffolk, Summerhill is a 100-acre site devoted to archaeology, nature conservation and sports. Areas are set aside for rambling, cycling, horse riding, exercise and fitness, cross-country running, orienteering, archery and rock climbing.

First rung

A two-bedroom terrace near Hartlepool United football ground and needing updating, £35,000 at Manners & Harrison. A two-bed terrace with reception and rear yard, £39,950 at Dowen.

Marina flats

A two-bed third-storey flat with a corner balcony in a small block facing the sea, £152,500 at Michael Poole. A three-bedroom flat with balcony overlooking the harbour with allocated parking, £155,000 at Dowen. A fourth-floor penthouse apartment with two bedrooms, 27ft lounge/dining area and balcony, £169,950 at Manners & Harrison.

Family homes

A five-bed period house (two bedrooms are in the converted loft) overlooking Park Square, £169,500 with stamp duty paid, at Manners & Harrison. A double-fronted five-bedroom, two-storey Victorian semi has two receptions, two attic rooms and a dining room, £245,000 at Michael Poole. The upper end of this market extends north of £500,000: Manners & Harrison are selling a five-bed five-reception with games room, large garage and walled rear garden, £580,000.

Family homes

Both flats in a large corner house are available as a single unit. They include a two-bedroom, ground-floor flat and a three-bedroom, first-floor flat, with shared yard in an area served by Eldon Grove Junior and High Tunstall Comprehensive Schools, £139,950 at Manners.

Mansions

A five-bedroom, three-reception country house with games room on about 12 acres with paddocks, stables and outbuildings, one containing a 60 x 30ft workshop/office, in Dalton Piercy has a guide price between £600,000 and £700,000, at Michael Poole.

New

Jomast is selling two-bedroom flats, from £113,950 without a marina view, and from £175,000 with it (01429 869672). Bett Homes' Owton Grange consists of three and four-bed houses, from £154,995 (0191 214 2400).

Estate agents

Andrew Craig 01429 866676; Dowen, 01429 860806; Manners & Harrison, 01429 261351; Michael Poole, 01429 264116; Whitegates, 01429 222300.

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