Change in the property market is only ever gradual and rarely follows a clear pattern, however, one or two trends are emerging as the year progresses. The first is that there is a definite take up in retail property in the town centre. This may not have resulted in brand-new shop-fronts being installed yet but Chown Commercial have been involved in a
number of deals on Abington Street, Fish Street & Gold Street which will result in positive long-term change, not short term 'pop ups' but 'proper' lettings!
Examples include letting of 7 Abington St to Moss Bross and the sale of the former Kasbah on Gold Street which will revert to retail use.
The second trend is for un-let office space to be re-occupied as residential properties. We have seen this in Derngate, at Saxon Court, and most recently in York Road. Interestingly the York Road sale stands adjacent to a recent letting which followed a full scale refurbishment of number 25 for office use...maybe the refurbishment was the key to the letting? The motto maybe that even when tenants are pushing the rents down they still seek quality and it is important for landlords to recognise this.
Converting offices into houses is a logical development following the trend for professionals to relocate out of town. I wonder whether we may see a reversal of this trend in five years' time when Project Angel has brought 2000 County Council Staff into the new Project Angel scheme between Angel Street and St. John's Road, bearing in mind the new bus interchange and new railway station will be three years old by then.
The improvements to the town coupled with a successful Music Festival, Riverside Festival, Dragon Boat Race, Delapre Alive music series and the wonderful Northampton in Bloom flowers which adorned the town for the last three months, have been timed to coincide with the publication of improved housing figures and our own reports of improved transactional activity. We may not be breaking new ground in terms of rents and prices but the pace of change has definitely picked up and this is a good sign. Such optimism is reflected in our monthly management rental figures and also in the appetite shown by developers when offered new sites available around the town. Similarly, where we are active elsewhere in the country, notably in Maidstone and Wolverhampton, we have seen an improvement in the pace of transactional activity.
Perhaps most importantly we are pleased to report that the banks are lending against 5 year income which bodes well for the next three months, traditionally a positive time for the commercial property market.