Locations along the motorways which radiate from London have always tended to have more dynamic property markets, with activity from commuters, developers and businesses looking to take advantage of transport links. In this report we will look at the market in the main towns of the southern M1 corridor area including Luton, Milton Keynes and Northampton.
Luton has a population of 216,000, which has grown by around 10% over the last decade. According to the Centre for Cities it was the fourth fastest growing location nationwide during 2014-15. Local authority projections suggest it will grow to 254,050 by 2031 and to 274,250 by 2041 – an increase of 35% compared to today.
Once a major motor manufacturing centre, the industry still exists in a smaller form. Vauxhall Motors operations directly employ 2,250. Production here is only guaranteed until 2025 and there are concerns about how the takeover by French motor manufacturer PSA, together with Brexit, will impact local employment. Other key employers are mainly in public administration, health, transport, aviation, logistics and distribution, financial and business services. High profile companies here include aerospace company Leonardo, AstraZeneca, Ernst & Young, EasyJet and TUI UK & Ireland, (which alone employs over 1,000 people).
Luton benefits from good proximity to the M1, West Coast Main Line railway and Luton Airport. The airport, which is the fifth largest UK airport by passenger numbers, is also a significant contributor to the economy directly providing 9,000 jobs and supporting 27,000 others. It has just completed a £150m redevelopment increasing capacity from 12m passengers annually to 18m. A light rail link between the airport and Luton Parkway station has just received planning permission. Completion, projected for 2021, could put the airport within 30 minutes of St. Pancras.
Again as regards Brexit, statistics show 81% of passengers using Luton are flying to EU countries. The local authority has expressed concern that Brexit could negatively affect the aviation industry here. However Aena, the Spanish operator, has downplayed the impact and says Luton could benefit from Brexit if plans to expand other London area airports are postponed as a result.