For the fourth year running, the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities Index has rated Preston as the best city to live and work in the North West and 14th nationally. When combined with much lower property prices than Manchester, the city has become an investment hotspot.
The thriving city of Preston has again beaten off competition from Manchester and Liverpool to retain it's top spot, ranking highly for employment rates, affordability and work-life balance.
Investment and regeneration
Public spending of £430 million in infrastructure improvements has been the catalyst for a further £2.3 billion in private sector investment. Major regeneration of the city centre is under way, greatly improving liveability, with major developments and conversions changing the landscape.
The £200 million masterplan for the University of Central Lancashire will add to it's reputation for providing a steam of young talent - a major draw for the increasing number of new employers.
An investment hotspot
Once the preserve of local developers, Preston is now a focus of attention for the region's top tier property companies, attracted by a rapidly growing population and the opportunites presented by city centre regeneration.
Property prices are well below the national average, with city centre apartments up to 40% cheaper than their Manchester equivalents. This makes them much more accessible to a wider range of buyers, both owner occupiers and buy to let landlords.
Lack of supply and increased demand have driven up rental prices in central Preston with gross yields of 7% being achieved on recently completed developments. Prospects for capital growth are good, with the North West expected to see the UK's strongest property price rises over the coming years.
At some point, a balance will be restored - rental growth will stabilise and house prices will rise. As a result, rental yields will move back towards the regional average of 5% to 6%. Until then, there is the opportunity for investors to lock in the higher profits that Preston currently offers.