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Treasury North to Boost Darlington Rental Market?

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What could Rishi’s new ‘Treasury North’ mean for the Darlington rental market? 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in the Budget that a number of Government jobs will migrate to the North East town of Darlington as part of its plans to create a ‘Treasury North’. Over the next five years, an estimated 750 jobs will move to the town, famous for its railway heritage.

A vibrant private rented sector will be important to provide flexibility to civil servants moving to the town, either to settle permanently or as a temporary working week base, as well as local recruits.

Paragon’s North East Regional Surveyor Caroline Legg and Regional Sales Manager Bev Nealings give their views on the impact of the announcement on the rental market in Darlington and the surrounding area.

Caroline Legg - Paragon North East Regional Surveyor

Darlington has always been a popular place to live, being convenient to the A1 and East Coast Mainline. Significant employment is provided by the likes of RPMI, Capita and various engineering industries. More recently, a new Amazon Fulfilment Centre has opened, providing further employment opportunities.

The most active parts of the rental market are on the edge of the town centre, with low-cost terraced housing, and good quality family accommodation in the suburban parts of the town. Darlington hasn’t necessarily seen the same level of buy-to-let investment as some of the larger surrounding urban areas, but activity has picked up more recently with the likes of the Amazon centre fuelling demand. I’d say housing supply and tenant demand is fairly balanced at the moment.

There are opportunities for landlords to invest, with a variety of stock to cater for every tenant profile. Prices are affordable and some decent yields could be returned with the right approach and knowledge. I would suspect the Treasury campus will attract a mix of families, couples and single people, so landlords could consider a range of properties. Good quality two-bed flats tend to start from around £115,000 and three bed family homes in a decent area cost upwards from £260,000.

The nicest place to live is the western edge, with a nice mix of executive housing, some modern, some Victorian and 1930s villas. The Hummersknot Academy is a particularly well thought of school in this suburban area. Hurworth Village to the south is also popular.

Darlington is surrounded by some beautiful areas. People could instead choose to live in the Dales, by the coast or in surrounding towns such as Durham, Yarm or Northallerton.

Bev Nealings - Paragon North East Regional Sales Manager

Rishi Sunak’s announcement is a major coup for Darlington, benefitting the local economy. Rishi’s constituency of Hambleton borders onto Darlington, so he knows the area well.

I suspect the 750 roles will be a mix of relocation and more local recruits, and will bring a range of different housing needs. The ripple effect of the campus could be significant, boosting the likes of hospitality, retail and construction, creating more jobs and, therefore, demand for rental property.

I believe this could boost both the rental market within Darlington, but also its surrounding areas. Darlington borders onto Harrogate and York postcodes and some beautiful towns and villages of the Yorkshire Dales, which are in the most sought-after places to live in England. It has a very accessible location.

The town itself hasn’t necessarily been a focal point for buy-to-let investment, although it has been busier in the past year or so. I expect this announcement will provide further stimulus for landlords to look at the area, but it will benefit the broader housing market in the town.

The town itself is one of the most affordable places to rent in the UK, with Paragon’s analysis showing that the average annual rent for a three-bed property is approximately a quarter of average annual salary.

I also cover Newcastle where there is a large HMRC and DSS office, which has had a significant, positive impact on the city. It’s given people who work there job security and a long-term career prospects. Many who were renting were ultimately able to move into homeownership. I would expect something similar to happen in Darlington.

Darlington fast facts

Population: Approximately 106,000

Average Salary: £27,690 (ONS, 2019) 

Employment rate: 74.4 (ONS, Q3 2020)

Average house price: £140,414 (Land Registry, Dec 2020)

Average monthly rent: £489 (ONS, Year to Sept 20)

House price inflation: 14.2% since 2015 (Land Registry)

Famous for: Birth of the railways, Jonathan Backhouse and Company (one of the founders of Barclays Bank), Vic Reeves

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