Thursday, 18 June 2015

Is Canal Walk Chichester's best new-build development?

After last week’s article about new-build property versus older property, I received several e-mails asking me which local new-build development I felt was the best.

Developers are often accused of creating modern-day ‘rabbit-hutches’ as they look to maximise their use of land; complete with more townhouses blocking out the light, smaller gardens and limited parking.

A study from the University of Cambridge last year concluded that the U.K is building the smallest new-build homes in Europe. An average floor space of 76 square meters (818 square feet) is 45% less than in Denmark, whose new homes average 137 square meters (1,475 square feet).

In contrast to this norm is Canal Walk in Donnington. There are no apartments nor rows of terraced houses as favoured on other new-build sites. 97% of the 116 homes (far fewer than could have been squeezed in) are either detached or semi-detached houses. They are all the standard two-storeys high and each has a driveway and/or garage so cars aren’t littering the estate.

This gives a real sense of space that you don’t often get with modern new-build developments. The main site is surrounded by greenery and, once finished, will lead directly onto the canal’s towpath for a short pleasant walk into Chichester’s City centre.

The quality of the estate does, however, seem to be reflected in the popularity and pricing of Canal Walk. With over 85% already sold, there are simply no two beds available anymore and only a handful of three bedroom houses (starting from £332,000). Larger detached four/five bedroom houses start at £505,000.

I’ve spoken positively about Stockbridge / Donnington many times. It offers more ‘bricks for your buck’ compared to ‘central Chichester’, yet has immediate access on to the A27 and is actually closer to Chichester’s City centre than some of the more illustrious parts of Chichester, such as Summersdale.

With rental values at Canal Walk of around £1,150pcm for a three bed offering a 4.2% yield, and £1,600pcm for a four/five bed producing a 3.8% yield, the estate doesn’t look like a sensible investment at first glance.

Whilst I agree it’s not an obvious site for buy-to-let (it has appealed more to owner-occupiers), for those who wish to park a larger sum of money into a new-build property (complete with five year warranty on all fixtures and fittings) it does start to make sense.

Due to how nicely the houses have been built and the development laid out, I believe Canal Walk will compare well to other new-build estates in years to come, resulting in favourable capital growth.

This is already evident in how well the site has sold, along with price increases of around 10% since they were first marketed in Autumn 2013.

With Chichester’s local plan being agreed, whereby we can expect over 7,000 new homes to be built by 2029, it would be nice if developers designed estates more like Canal Walk than some of the cramped developments springing up elsewhere. If they don’t, Canal Walk really will stand out as the best new-build development in Chichester.

chichester observer property headline

(This article was featured in the Chichester Observer's property section on 18th June 2015)
Clive Janes, CRJ Lettings.


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