The east of England has proved to be something of a property hotspot over the last few years, falling only behind London and the southeast in terms of price rises. In this report we will look at the market in the two of the region's main cities - Cambridge and Peterborough.
After a decade of rapid growth Cambridge's population now exceeds 130,000. ONS projections suggest the city population will grow only slightly over the next two decades, although the population of surrounding towns will rise by 20%.
The local economy has been one of the country's fastest growing since the recession. Although diverse, it is becoming increasingly focused towards high-tech industries such as software, research and development, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, often being dubbed 'Silicon Fen'. There are eight major science parks, including Cambridge Science Park, the largest research and development centre in Europe. According to the Centre for Cities, Cambridge has the highest patent registration rate of any UK city.
Considerable commercial development is ongoing, or planned, here. According to a survey by Bidwells, office space take up has averaged 620,000 sq ft annually over the past three years, with demand for 1.4m sq ft more. They add that Cambridge has one of the highest 'crane counts' per thousand population of any UK city with 14 major developments initiated in 2015. Two notable schemes include AstraZeneca UK's new corporate HQ and global R&D centre where 2,000 people will be based by 2017 and North West Cambridge, a university scheme providing academic space and postgraduate accommodation, 1,500 market homes and community amenities.
Around 12 major residential schemes are currently being developed, mostly on the city outskirts. In some cases, controversy over incursion into the green belt is hampering progress. Jesus College have plans for another science park, Cambridge South, which would incorporate 1,250 homes.