Why winning the bid to be City of Culture 2025 could boost the residential property market in Bradford

Why winning the City of Culture 2025 bid could boost the Bradford property market

Those who witnessed the jubilation and celebrations as Bradford was named City of Culture 2025 couldn’t help but feel uplifted by the excitement of the crowds and those who had worked so hard to win the bid.

The idea of the government-backed City of Culture initiative, which happens every four years, is that the successful bidder hosts cultural events throughout the year, which puts the spotlight on the area, brings in visitors and creates a feel-good factor leading to regeneration while encouraging both businesses and people to move to the area. It worked well for Hull, also seen as a Cinderella city when compared to Leeds, Sheffield and York.

Hosting the event had a big impact on changing its image for the better and bringing new people into the area, some of whom decided to move there after seeing what it had to offer and realising that how affordable house prices are in Hull.

Celebrations after winning City of Culture

James Watts, of Bradford estate agency Robert Watts, says: “It is still early days for Bradford but winning the bid is obviously a good thing for the city and parts of it would benefit from a boost.”

While the vast Bradford local authority district includes a host of property hotspots, such as Ilkley, Saltaire, Haworth and Baildon, there are other parts in the inner city and surrounding areas that are either not seen as desirable or simply don’t register with would-be buyers.

“We are part of a relocation agent network and whereas other agents have people moving into their areas, we rarely get that,” says James, a Bradfordian born and bred, who points out that having Leeds on the doorstep doesn’t help.

Leeds is now seen as the place to be thanks to its renaissance as a shopping mecca with a flourishing business district and vibrant night-time economy. However, its popularity has pushed house prices up, while in Bradford, there are areas that are still affordable for first-time buyers on a minimum wage.

In the centre, you can find a one-bedroom flat from £50,000 and James Watts points out that Idle, close to the Leeds boundary with and Apperley Bridge train station nearby, is becoming popular. Here you can get a two-bedroom terraced house for £115,000, while in Wrose, Eccleshill, Undercliffe and Queensbury, they are under £100,000.

In central Bradford’s favour is its railway station and architecture. Wool capital of the world in the Victorian era, its illustrious past is evident in the magnificent historic buildings in and around the city centre but while the theatres, Science and Media Museum and annual Bradford Literature Festival bring outsiders in, what was once a popular place to shop has suffered thanks to the lure of Leeds, though that now means rents on commercial premises are more affordable for start-ups.

The Record Cafe on North Parade is one. It’s been a hit since Keith Wildman opened it in 2014 to sell records, play music and offer customers craft beer, charcuterie and cheese.

He says: “There have been a lot of false dawns for Bradford but I hope City of Culture will create a more positive image. The city centre could be a great incubator for small businesses and we only have to look at the PIece Hall in Halifax to see a great role model for that.”

Time will tell whether Bradford and its property market benefit from City of Culture 2025 but as Shanaz Gulzar, chair of Bradford 2025, says: “Bradford has been overlooked and underestimated for so long. It’s now our time to shine.”