Sam Elkington: What’s next for Lincolnshire’s property market?

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What a year for monumental change 2016 is proving to be. First we have had the Brexit vote, then came the Presidential elections in the USA last week, and now we have the latest HS2 announcements.

Brexit is undoubtedly going to bring changes and the property market and local economy seem to have come to terms with the fact that this will hopefully bring forward opportunities for Lincolnshire as well as pose challenges.

From a property market perspective, I think there will be little change in the current supply of speculative commercial development space and also speculative residential house building.

Talking to existing and potential clients, there is a general continued growing confidence for the delivery of speculative space during 2017 and this is clearly on the back of improving economic times and certainty.

However, the American Presidential elections will, I am sure, be used as another reason for potential delay of support for developers wanting to move forward; or for them being offered harder terms over funding deals.

None of the above, however, can have a more direct and compelling impact than the impending HS2 rail links. For a government to look to invest £56 billion in a rail network that will leave large swathes of the country even more marginalised than at present beggars belief.

The recent government announcement that the East Midlands will have a rail link at Toton, south-west of Nottingham from the West Midlands is little more than a token gesture.

HS2 will speed up the links to Birmingham and Leeds from London, which will effectively enable more people to get to London quicker rather than the other way round which is what is hoped.

What it will also encourage is businesses and people to move closer to these rail links, which will undermine potentially the growth prospects of Lincolnshire.

This announcement, in my view, frustrates all the hard work that the other public bodies are doing to generate economic growth in the county.

Imagine what the benefits to Lincolnshire could be if the government gave it a £1 billion investment package to sort out structure issues within the county.

Multiply this by 56 times and give 55 other counties the same amount of investment, and one would quickly see a massive overhaul of local infrastructure projects for the whole country.

A ten minute shorter train journey from London to Birmingham pales into insignificance when you look at the road jams and blockages that there are throughout the county and also the country.

One can’t help but think that a dose of realism needs to be injected into the decision makers. Will people from Lincoln struggle to south-west Nottingham to reap the benefits of a 10 minute shorter train journey?