There are numerous urban regeneration schemes taking shape across the UK at the moment, particularly in the South East, bringing new life to quiet towns up and down the country. These projects are having a positive impact on local communities and driving demand for properties in areas once largely overlooked by the homebuyer market.
We take a look at some of the UK’s most ambitious regeneration schemes in the South East and assess their value in positioning towns within London’s Commuter Belt as lively and exciting places for people looking for their new home.
What is Urban Regeneration?
Urban regeneration is the investment of public money or private finance into areas in need of improvement. Projects can include enhancing local infrastructure, housing, retail space or leisure activities, but generally consist of a mix of these.
It is the process of revitalising local areas and communities in order to attract inward economic investment, transforming areas into economically productive towns to the benefit of both current and prospective residents. So, how does this impact the property market?
What Does Urban Regeneration mean for Homebuyers?
Urban regeneration projects have the long term aim of making areas more attractive for local residents and potential homebuyers by enhancing social spaces, local communities and entertainment, supporting this with improved local infrastructure and facilities. These projects often act to reduce local unemployment by creating new job opportunities as well as tackling barriers to growth, which often including enhancing local transport and regional connections.
These are all key considerations for people looking for the best place to buy property, particularly for first-time buyers, meaning great things for the local property market and those looking for lively commuter towns near London to settle in.
Major UK Regeneration Projects in the South East
Towns in the South East are experiencing significant amounts of investment as demand for property bordering the capital increases; and the benefits of this urban regeneration for residents and homebuyers are evident from two key projects: Bracknell and Slough – both of which are regularly touted as two of the best commuter towns near London.
Quite possibly the most successful and extensive urban regeneration project in the South East is Bracknell’s town centre and the development of The Lexicon Shopping Centre.
Bracknell’s regeneration plan spans over 20-years and has seen approximately £770 million worth of investment ploughed into the commuter town, with £240 million dedicated to The Lexicon Shopping Centre which formed a cultural and social hub in the town centre. The project has been recognised in several awards, most notably the Thames Valley Property Awards 2018: Development of the Year and has truly helped to put Bracknell on the map.
The Lexicon brought an impressive 160 stores, restaurants and bars to the area, as well as a 12-screen cinema to this once overlooked town. This includes well known brands such as Fenwick and Marks and Spencer along with popular restaurants such as Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Bill’s and self-proclaimed “Lexicon local” pub: The Bull.
As part of this ambitious regeneration scheme, eight core buildings and six place-making squares were developed for holding outdoor events and activities; £6.5 million in extra investment was poured into the highway infrastructure by Bracknell’s council and 3,800 extra car parking spaces have been provided to help draw in more visitors to the area.
The town’s transformation has seen its popularity skyrocket in recent years. Previously, nearby areas such as Reading and Windsor were the preferred destinations for Bracknell locals, however, with so much now on the doorstep, Bracknell is the place to be.
Within just one year of opening, the town centre saw over 16 million customers enjoy everything it has to offer. Data provided by footfall analytics company Huq highlighted that, after Covid lockdowns and the reopening of non-essentials shops, Bracknell was one of the top three busiest towns for footfall in the UK.
Bracknell Town Centre 2032 Vision
But that’s not all for this now flourishing commuter town. The next step in The Lexicon’s development is a new leisure and shopping quarter The Deck, which is due to open in 2023. Serving as a grand entrance to the existing Lexicon, The Deck will become the leisure quarter, designed around a newly landscaped public social space and becoming the new home of Bracknell’s existing Hollywood Bowl.
Bracknell Forest Council have also released further development plans for the commuter town as part of their “2032 Vision”, including an extension to the southern part of the town centre with space for cultural activities, more housing to satisfy increased demand from homebuyers and fully integrating the town centre with The Peel Centre to enhance Bracknell even further.
Slough is another prime example of how large-scale regeneration projects are elevating towns in the South East into becoming prime homebuyer hotspots.
Catalysed by the development and opening of the Crossrail line which runs directly through the town centre, Slough has been transformed by over £450 million of investment as part of the wider regeneration scheme. The overall project focusses on improving leisure activities, commercial and retail space as well as infrastructure, transforming the area into an exciting place to live.
A big part of this project was the development of The Curve, Slough’s iconic multi-purpose facility and cultural hub located just a stone’s throw away from the main high street. The Curve houses a library and gallery, Slough Museum, community learning spaces, computer suites as well as exhibition space and a performance venue. This has become a popular leisure hotspot for the town, hosting several shows, events and activities for local residents to enjoy.
The development of Slough’s town centre continues with plans proposed for the regeneration of the high street, including a complete replacement of the Queensmere Observatory shopping centre and an additional investment of £3 billion from the Slough Urban Renewal project.
Slough has now become extremely popular amongst working professionals looking for property which gives the tranquillity of outer city living, whilst still providing unrivalled access to key areas of London.
With London Paddington just 13 minutes by train, and the Elizabeth line providing door-to-door access to key London employment hubs such as Liverpool Street (39 minutes) and Canary Wharf (46 minutes), Slough is effectively an extension to London, with an estimated 46% of homes reportedly let to those leaving the capital. Because of this, it is fast becoming one of the best London commuter towns, having been also been voted the best place to live and work by Glassdoor.
SevenCapital: Specialising in Urban Regeneration
SevenCapital specialise in regenerating brown-space and delivering high quality property developments in areas which have undergone significant urban regeneration.
We have a number of properties for sale in both Bracknell and Slough for those looking for a more affordable alternative to the capital.
Property for Sale in Bracknell
Our game-changing development, The Grand Exchange, lies just meters from the award-winning £770 million regeneration project that has seen Bracknell’s town centre transform into an exciting, thriving hotspot within London’s Commuter Belt.
Due for completion in 2023, The Grand Exchange brings some much needed high-specification apartments to the heart of Bracknell and includes resident only amenities such as a private gym, event space with the option of private catering as well as bookable treatment rooms, a shared workspace and an attractive garden room for residents to enjoy. Find out more and register your interest here.
Property for Sale in Slough
The Metalworks is a recently completed apartment development in the heart of Slough, residing less than 200 metres from the town’s main train station, providing excellent access to London for working professionals via the Elizabeth Line.
New Eton House offers 1 and 2-bedroom apartments a stone’s throw from Slough’s Trading Estate – the UK’s most productive commercial district.
Find out more about our developments in London, Birmingham and the South East, here.