Northern waterways draw a rising flow of investors

Investment in the great Northern canal networks is being rewarded. By Cheryl Markosky
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The Independent Online

Until recently, waterside areas in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle were poor rundown industrial blights on the landscape, according to Julian D'arcy from agent Knight Frank.

Until recently, waterside areas in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle were poor rundown industrial blights on the landscape, according to Julian D'arcy from agent Knight Frank.

"The original industries that relied on water-based transport died years ago," he says, "and it is only now that we are really discovering the worth of land along canals and rivers."

D'arcy finds there is a premium of 10 to 15 per cent attached to waterside properties and says he has yet to meet anyone who wouldn't want to live somewhere overlooking water. To prove his point, he has bought a flat at Deansgate Quay in Manchester for investment purposes with views over the water - and the close proximity to water will help rent it easily.

Waterside patches along the canals in Leeds have developed quickly near the centre, where the focus of rented developments traditionally exists. "Leeds is ahead of the game," confirms D'arcy.

Residential development in Newcastle has been slower, but now mixed use schemes on both the Newcastle and cheaper Gateshead side of the river are taking off. "There is great water in Newcastle, but we needed wholesale clearances, as there are very few conversion opportunities."

Manchester boasts several canals and therefore a lot of waterside to regenerate. While there is a huge splurge of city centre development alongside stretches of water, there is bound to be a great deal more.

Prices in projects on the water have taken off and continue to climb. D'arcy says that you could have picked up a two-bed apartment in Leeds at Crosby Homes' Clarence Dock a few years ago for £160,000 - but now one will set you back £190,000. The third phase of one- and two-bed apartments launches mid-April at Clarence Dock, with prices starting from £130,000 through Knight Frank (0113 244 4455).

Just outside Leeds in Brighouse, Leeds-based developer Binks Homes is selling 130 apartments in a converted historic mill. The Royd Island Scheme, which promises buyers a patch of rural idyll and somewhere to moor a narrow boat, is on the 300-year-old Calder and Hebble Navigation on one side and the River Wharfe on the other.

"The regeneration of this site and the opening up of the whole canal basin is a key part of the re-development of the town centre," says Richard Binks from Binks Homes. "A lot of money has been invested by British Waterways to restore the canal and canal basin, recreating the grassy banks and pleasant seating areas." Apartments at Mill Royd Island start from £236,950 for penthouses through Knight Frank (0113 297 9040).

Charles Church has released the final phase of 64 one- and two-bed apartments at Pandongate House in Newcastle. Loft-style units, in a former Victorian bonded warehouse close to the city centre, are in one of only a few quayside developments in Newcastle. Prices are from £229,995 for the 12 remaining homes, through Chesterton International (0191 211 1030). Knight Frank also is selling new build and conversions in a bonded warehouse, with 20 units left from £177,500 for a one-bed unit (0191 221 2211).

Demonstrating how well waterside property retains its value, King Sturge (0191 255 4488) is selling a two-bed apartment at High Quay, Newcastle for £195,000. The flat, with both en suite and a separate bathroom, has impressive views of the water and bridge, covered parking and video entry. King Sturge also is marketing a three-bed duplex at Mariners Wharf on the quayside for £345,000.

Bellway Homes (0191 244 6658) is marketing 600 apartments at Ochre Yards, a quayside development in Gateshead, priced from £165,000 for a large two-bed first-floor apartment. And at Bellway's Aln View (01665 864500) in the village of Lesbury just outside Newcastle, one five-bed detached house with fishing rights to the River Aln remains, priced at £799,000.

All the apartments have sold at Stretford Marina, a new Westbury Homes' development on the Bridgewater Canal due for completion in May. Of the original 24 apartments and 100 houses, there are 26 townhouses and detached homes left. Prices are from £169,995 to £279,995 through Reeds Rains (0161 865 1567).

The Leftbank, part of Manchester's Spinningfields development in the new business quarter overlooking the Irwell, has two- and three-bed apartments from £223,000. With sleek contemporary design, ISDN lines and a 24-hour concierge, this indicates how far the city centre has come over the last few years, mainly prompted by urban waterside regeneration. Apartments at The Leftbank are available through FPDSavills (0161 834 7979).

As in Newcastle, the re-sale market for property next to the water is thriving. King Sturge (0161 238 7400) is selling a two-bed apartment over the fourth and fifth floors of Jackson's Warehouse for £225,000. The converted warehouse has many original features and views over the canal basin. A two-bed two-bathroom apartment at Castlegate with similar watery vistas and a city centre skyline beyond costs £334,950.

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