Helmsley acquires Woodlands House, Northampton

Helmsley has recently acquired Woodlands House in central Northampton.
The £2.94m syndicate will be launched in 6 months and will reflect a net yield of 7.142%.
It forms part of the same site already under our management at Princess House,
Northampton which is occupied by HMRC.
Woodlands House is currently fully let to Towergate Insurance for four years.
The site provides various development opportunities for the future, given its close proximity
to Northampton General Hospital and Northampton University.

What is affordable housing?

What is ‘affordable housing’? 

The answer to this question is perhaps not as straight forward as you might think…

When most people think of the term affordable housing, certainly in the context of what they would like to see delivered in their town or city, they think of property which can be bought by the general public at a price point which is attainable.

Planning guidance defines affordable housing as ‘social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing’.

Although there is certainly a need for this type of housing, it does not match what the average person on the street would like to see available, for themselves, or for their children who are looking at buying their first home.

One development in York is an interesting example of how the General Permitted Development Rights (GPDR), in conjunction with the Help to Buy scheme, both introduced by the government, have effectively created a new marketplace for first time buyers:

York is a beautiful city, steeped in heritage, with low crime rates, nice suburban areas, a university with high student let demand, good employment prospects and fantastic transport links. As a result, it is one of the most expensive places to live in the North of England. Property prices are verging on South East prices, but we do not see London wages on average. Put quite bluntly, a great place to live as a young person, but a real struggle to buy your first property.

Helmsley Group, a York based company who fund property investment and development through syndication to private clients, decided to look at ways to provide local, affordable housing. The result being a large-scale re-development of a business park on the periphery of the city, Clifton Moor.

Clifton Moor has been somewhat un-loved for many years; the city was suffering with an excess of vacant offices, with some on the estate having been vacant for 7, 8 and even 15 years. Helmsley purchased these buildings and have thus far created 72 new homes, with another 19 under construction and 60 more in the development pipeline. This development has started the ball rolling for other surrounding property owners to follow suit, transforming the face of this once un-loved office park.

This development was specifically aimed at helping first time buyers get on to the property ladder with prices starting from as little as £99,950 and averaging £130,000. Although other developments in York offer the opportunity for purchasers to use the Help to Buy scheme, prices for these houses tend to be £200,000 minimum, which is simply un-attainable for most young people starting out in life. The scheme at Clifton Moor is able to be delivered much cheaper than traditional developments, because of the GPDR.

The sales so far have almost exclusively been first time buyers, with 85% of the all purchasers using the Help to Buy scheme. Purchasers include student mid-wives, trainee young professionals and nurses who in reality, without this development had no realistic chance of being able to get on the property market any time soon. They have gone from perhaps renting a room in a shared house at £500 per month, to now owning their own new build, high spec apartment, with a mortgage at half this monthly cost.

Max Reeves, Associate Director

Focus on Max Reeves, Associate Director at Helmsley

What’s your role at Helmsley Group?
I work across several areas here –  development, syndicated investment and client consultancy.

On the development side, I identify and then project manage opportunities, primarily in and around York. I also work with Ian McAndrew and Ed Harrowsmith on our syndicated investments and day to day asset management of our portfolio. I’ll also get involved on advising our clients on their property interests.

What does a typical day look like for you?
At the moment, my day begins with a shrill early wake up call, following the birth of my first child recently!

Usually though, my day is split between the office and being either on site, (typically making sure contractors are behaving themselves!), or splitting myself between meetings with tenants, surveyors and clients.

What are you working on at the moment?
The latest development project I have been working on is a scheme of 19 apartments and townhouses called NEON, which has proved very successful. In the first 10 days of marketing we sold 10 units and it’s been feted in the media for its innovation.

We have since done a number of similar developments at Clifton Moor. Helmsley Group has just been nominated for a design award for its delivery of genuinely affordable homes to first time buyers. Historically it’s been difficult for them to get started on the York property ladder.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
It is great to be involved with development schemes from start to finish. Identifying an opportunity and then seeing it come to life.

There are always obstacles to overcome and a solution to be found, but ultimately seeing the finished schemes come to fruition is the reward.

What do you think the next year will bring for the property industry?
The performance of the commercial investment market ultimately lives or dies as a result of the performance of the occupier market, which varies hugely from town to town in the current world.

Overall those cities with a draw (such as York, with a large amount of its income from tourism and its high living standards) continue to see improving occupier demand. Whereas unfortunately many towns which do not have a similar appeal still have a historic oversupply of vacant commercial buildings, with next to no occupier demand and we believe they’ll continue to struggle.

There are always challenges, especially in such a potentially volatile economic and political environment.  Overall though, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the year ahead and we see many opportunities in the property market.

Helmsley has established a substantial market share across York over the past few years and we continue to invest in locations that fit our acquisition strategy.

Charity sleep out for Chairman

Our Chairman John Reeves recently took part in a ‘sleep out’ for York homeless charity SASH.

The event included over 70 people from York taking part in an overnight stay on the streets to raise money and awareness of homelessness for young people.

So far the event has raised nearly £5000 for helping to prevent youth homelessness.

Meanwhile the Helmsley team also took part in the gruelling British Military Major series at Bramham Park, Leeds.

Work underway at Pocklington scheme

– Industrial and trade counter units now available for businesses –

Work has started on a new industrial scheme at Broadhelm Pocklington, with Howdens Joinery signing up as one of the first tenants.

The ‘Broadhelm Business Park’ development is a joint venture between Helmsley Group and Pocklington based Broadvale Developments.

The development is due to be completed this July, with trade counter and industrial units available from 1000sqft to 10,000sqft and opportunities for larger development requirements on the 12 acre site.

The move comes further to the development of a petrol station and Starbucks drive through at the A1079 roundabout known as ‘Pocklington Services’, where over 25,000 vehicles drive by on a daily basis.

Ed Harrowsmith from Helmsley Group comments: “The site at Pocklington has now started to gather momentum in terms of occupier interest in light of recent lettings to Howdens and the sale of land to Home Fit. With amenities like Starbucks and ‘Pocklington Services’ at the site, the scheme is a great location for businesses in the East Riding and North Yorkshire areas.”

Howdens Joinery has signed up to a pre-let tenancy, with 8,000 sq ft at the scheme on a 15 year lease.

Jonathan Atkinson of Broadvale Developments says “The Broadhelm Venture have made a significant investment in new roads and infrastructure to help facilitate this development.  The attraction of new business and potential creation of many new jobs demonstrates ongoing confidence in Broadhelm Park and Pocklington as a commercial centre.”

Mark Churchill, Head of Property at Howdens Joinery, the leading supplier of kitchens in the UK, said: “We have been looking for the right premises in Pocklington for some time and this new depot will enable us to grow our local business.  We are very pleased to be opening at Broadhelm Business Park as part of our on-going expansion programme.”

The second phase of development, Helmsley Court, a terrace scheme of 10,500sqft trade counter units, is due to start onsite this summer, with over 70% of the scheme already reserved.

Gent Visick and Procters advised the Broadhelm Joint venture. Montagu Evans acted on behalf of Howdens Joinery.

Contact:  Ed Harrowsmith: Edward-harrowsmith@helmsley.co.uk


About Helmsley Group

Helmsley Group is based at Monk’s Cross, York and has been helping clients to develop their wealth through property for 36 years. The company provides its clients and potential investors with a range of property investment opportunities that are always secured against land or property. https://helmsley.co.uk/


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