Can you Find it – Business © 2017 THE FULL STORY…CONCERN OVER NUMBER OF FLATSPublished in Can you find it Business Edition on Thursday, December 1st 2015
FEARS are mounting that Carlisle’s property market will become saturated as developers rush to build hundreds of flats.
Until the 1990s, apartments were a rarity in Carlisle. But developments such as Caldew Maltings and the conversion of Ferguson Mill at Denton Holme started a trend that shows no sign of abating.
Carlisle City Council has given planning consent for 665 flats or apartments since April 2004, including a single development of 167 at Bousteads Grassing in Rome Street.
This figure excludes previously-approved developments that have yet to be built, including 50 flats at Highgrove Dairy in Harraby Green and 40 on the site of the Palace Theatre in Botchergate.
Nor does it include planning applications in the pipeline, such as the conversion of the old Penguin Confectionery sweet factory in Denton Holme into 127 apartments, and 29 flats in BT’s Cecil Street telephone exchange.
The latest scheme is to bulldoze the Lonsdale Cinema in Warwick Road to make way for a seven-storey block of 82 apartments.
The Lonsdale is likely to close when its lease expires next year, although its sister cinema in Mary Street will continue.
Nick Elgey, managing director of the Cumberland Estate Agency, is not convinced there is demand for so many flats.
He said: “There is a huge volume coming onto the market over the next few years. Flats in Carlisle have become more popular.
“They appeal to a wide audience, such as first-time buyers, single, divorced and retired people, and to investors who buy to let.
“However, the market in general has slowed. We’ve lost the buy-to-let investors and people moving to London to retire, and the key for first-time buyers is affordability.
“We shall watch with interest as all these apartments come onto the market.”
There is already evidence that some developments are becoming difficult to sell. Barratt Homes has cut the price of its two-bedroom flats at Oakland View, Garlands, by 16 per cent from £134,400 to £112,400.
It is also offering incentives such as free carpets and kitchen appliances, and will pay buyers’ deposit, stamp duty and legal fees.
A Barratt spokeswoman said that 25 of the 36 apartments remain unsold. She added: “We have dropped the price because this is traditionally a quiet time of year for house sales.”
At the top of the market, Story Homes says it is satisfied with sales at its Shaddon Mill development where 38 out of 58 apartments have been released – 27 at prices up to £270,000. Even here Story has introduced incentives on its £135,000 apartments, aimed at first-time buyers, offering carpets, curtains, crockery, cushions, lights, lampshades, a bed and bedding, and a sofa.
Builder Andy Brown, of AP & J Brown, agrees there is a danger of the market being saturated. He is converting the former Emperor’s Palace restaurant in Warwick Road into four two-bedroom apartments, and building three more alongside. Prices range from £119,000 up to £195,000.
Mr Brown said: “We have a had a lot of interest but it is a unique development.”
Despite signs of a slowdown, the rate of building looks set to continue.
Carlisle City Council’s Renaissance proposals allow for 475 new “residential units” – likely to be flats or town houses – in Viaduct Estate, and for “high-quality apartments” in Rickergate.