Why Invest in Hastings?

Posted on 6th June 2017

Hastings Property Market - The Investment Case Study 

It is our belief that there is a compelling investment case for residential property in Hastings, our local coastal town in East Sussex, in the South-East of England.

Three factors underpin the investment case for the area:

•Savills, in their forecasts for house price growth by region, have the South-East of England as the region of the country they expect to appreciate most in value over the next 4 years – a predicted 22.7% (2016 & 2017: 6.5% p.a, 2018 & 2019: 4% p.a.).

•Hastings has recently been named in the top five English ‘heritage assets’ in the country. The town also has a growing arts and culture scene that is making it an increasingly attractive destination and place to live.

  • Hastings has attracted a wealth of national press of late due to its impressive architecture, beautiful coastline, country park, and abundance of excellent restaurants and attractions.

 

The South-East of England is expected to see strong capital growth

With the support of extensive industry research, combined with the knowledge of our experienced property team, we believe investments in this region to be an attractive opportunity – and a chance to diversify from London.

The well-regarded research team at Savills have the South-East as the region they expect to be the highest-performing between 2016-2019. They forecast growth of 6.5% p.a. for 2016 & 2017, and 4% p.a. for 2018 & 2019, making a total gain of 22.7%.

Another strong research team, at Knight Frank, forecast capital growth close to this level at +23.4% (2015-2019).

The area is also seeing considerable investment, with £500m of public money currently being invested around East Sussex. The Hastings-Bexhill Link Road is a new road, and a >£100m project that is due to open shortly. A new 50,000 square metre business park is also being developed in the area.

Growth in the area of Hastings is supported by particularly strong transport links. There are regular bus services around Hastings Town Centre and frequent trains from Hastings railway station. The station offers direct services to Brighton, London Victoria and London Charing Cross.

Hastings has a thriving arts and culture scene, and benefits from surrounding natural beauty. The town is increasingly reported, in the media, as a hotspot for arts and culture and an attractive alternative destination to the well known, already upmarket seaside resort of Brighton. Key new spots include the Jerwood Gallery, a Creative Media Centre and a newly revamped University of Brighton in Hastings campus, which is attracting young people to the town.

Furthermore, a recent report found ‘Hastings to be in the top one per cent for industrial heritage and parks and open spaces, as well as the top five per cent for landscape and natural heritage’. The town is minutes away from High Weald: an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and the fourth largest AONB in England and Wales.

In detail

Its geographical situation has been both a boon and a curse. Unlike Brighton or Lewes to the west, Hastings has never attracted London commuters in significant numbers. The fastest train to London takes an hour and a half. The town’s proximity to the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has inhibited expansion inland. But it is for these very reasons that Hastings has retained its period charm.

“You could say that Hastings has turned a corner, with evidence of new investment all over the town”

Thirty years ago, it was run-down, with a well-documented drug problem. But Hastings has enjoyeda substantial programme of regeneration in recent years. The old pier reopened earlier this year after a £14 million refurbishment, courtesy of a Lottery grant, while the University of Sussex’s Hastings campus has doubled in size, bringing in a welcome tranche of students and young professionals. The town is quietly on the up, and house-hunters like what it has to offer.

You could say that Hastings has turned a corner, with evidence of new investment all over the town. “The restored pier has cheered up the seafront and people have now identified Hastings as a good area to target.”

 

Home buyers now come from London or Brighton or Tunbridge Wells, like what they see and are pleasantly surprised by the property prices. There may not be many major new residential developments here, because there is not the space for them, but there is an impressive range of quality properties, from classic Victorian terraces to more modern family homes.

In a patchy property market, Hastings has been performing very well indeed. The average property price in the town was £245,000 in July, according to Zoopla, up an impressive 6.95 per cent on a year earlier. And for people who like the sea air in their lungs, but feelpriced out of Brighton, it offers a tempting alternative.

Generations of visitors have been charmed by a town that does not put on airs but exudes understated warmth. Hastings was featured in ITV’s Second World War drama series Foyle’s War, where the sea always seemed to be sparkling in the sun and the characters meandered the pretty town centre.

Appropriately, one of the properties recently on the market in Hastings, a Grade II listed Regency villa in the Old Town, priced at £725,000, wasused as Detective Inspector Foyle’s home in the series.

Another Hastings property with a celebrity connection that was on the market, for £1.1 million, is Loreto, a grand Thirties house, wherethe bestselling novelist Catherine Cookson lived for more than 20 years. Her husband was a teacher at Hastings Grammar School and she was a founder member of the Hastings Writers’ Group, still going strong after more than 70 years.

And then there’s Belmont House, a Grade II listed Italianate villa that waslived in by the writer and sculptor Clare Sheridan. A cousin of Winston Churchill, Sheridan kept company with the likes of H G Wells and Vivien Leigh, had affairs with Leon Trotsky and Charlie Chaplin, and attracted the attention of MI5, who labelled her a “dangerous propagandist”.

But then Hastings, despite its old-fashioned air, has long had bohemian leanings. One of the most interesting enclaves is St Leonards-on-Sea, which occupies the western flank of the town. If the properties in the Old Town are traditional terraces,St Leonards has something of a funkier side, epitomised by a five-bedroom eco-home on St John’s Road, on the market for £725,000, which could just as easily be in San Francisco.

The Norman invaders may have won at Hastings but, in the battle of house prices, they ended up on the losing side. Across the Channel in Falaise, birthplace of William the Conqueror, you can buy a substantial three-bedroom period house for around £400,000. You would have to pay nearly double that for a property of equivalent quality in Hastings. That should bring a quiet smile to the residents of this most English of seaside towns.

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