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Green open spaces – even allotments – are more sought-after than ever 

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We LOVE our public parks. And, when overseas visitors — particularly Americans — spend time in Britain, they are sure to talk about the trees, the lush grass, the pretty gardens.

Sometimes, we take all this for granted. But the housing market doesn’t. New research has proved how much of a premium properties close to green spaces can command.

Data from the Office for National Statistics has shown that homes within 100 metres of public parks, gardens, golf courses, allotments or playing fields are an average of £2,500 more expensive than they would be if they were more than 500 metres away.

Urban oasis: Bournville Green in Birmingham, one of the city’s many parks

Urban oasis: Bournville Green in Birmingham, one of the city’s many parks

Urban oasis: Bournville Green in Birmingham, one of the city’s many parks

The more green space there is nearby, the higher the premium.

This equates to homebuyers paying an average premium of 1.1 per cent to live near a green space. Detached homes command even more — a premium of 1.9 per cent.

Furthermore, having views of open greenery (or stretches of water such as rivers, canals, lakes or the sea) boosts house prices by around £4,600 or 1.8 per cent. 

Using Ordnance Survey’s Open Greenspace data and details from Zoopla (zoopla.co.uk), statisticians analysed details of more than one million property sales within urban areas in England and Wales between 2009 and 2016.

Created in the Victorian era to provide a refuge for city residents living in cramped conditions with no access to private gardens, parks have always had an appeal.

Buying a property near a green space is the perfect compromise for the buyer torn between town and country, as they can enjoy wonderful, lush, green views and glorious walks on their doorstep, as well as the delights of the city.

 

‘Strengthening the human connection with nature is key, and greatly enhances residents’ quality of life, health and wellbeing — encouraging wildlife and removing harmful air pollutants,’ explains Alex Comrie, landscape director at the planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore (barton willmore.co.uk).

‘Parks and open green spaces provide a natural focal point for recreation and bring the community together, particularly in urban areas.

‘This not only increases the value of nearby properties, but brings a host of wider economic benefits to the community.’

And buyers aren’t immune to their charms. Nick Leeming, chairman of estate agents Jackson-Stops (jackson-stops.co.uk) believes the premium people are prepared to pay can be higher than the ONS figures. 

‘Our latest research shows that 89 per cent of UK respondents think living within a 20-minute journey of a green space is either important or vital.

‘It will not come as a surprise when I say that homes near parks do attract a premium. How much of a premium, however, depends on the type of green space, its location from a property and the region in which it is situated — and can vary from 5 to 20 per cent.’

Barid and Ira Bhattacharya recently moved in to a new apartment at Redrow’s Colindale Gardens development in North London, which offers nine acres of green communal spaces.

‘Though we are now living in London, our flat overlooks the development’s four-acre park, so it still feels like we are in the countryside,’ says Barid.

The couple, a retired doctor and local government official both in their mid-60s, bought the three-bedroom flat to be closer to their children.

Prices for a one-bedroom apartment start at £361,000 (colindalegardens.co.uk).

Birmingham has the highest proportion of green space in a UK city, at 15.58 per cent, according to the Ordnance Survey. Popular suburbs include Bournville, with its village greens and 100 acres of parks, and the affluent Four Oaks and Sutton Coldfield, with their tree-lined streets and 2,400-acre nature reserve.

The average price paid for a property in Sutton Coldfield is £307,640 — almost double that in Birmingham — and homes in the area can sell for up to £7.5 million.

When you hit the top of the market, the difference a bit of greenery makes can be eye-watering.

‘A house that backs on to London’s Holland Park with a view of the park might go for between £30million and £35million, but the same house backing on to Holland Park Mews would probably sell for between £25million and £30million,’ says Saul Empson, director at Haringtons Buying Agency (haringtons-uk.com).

‘It doesn’t matter which part of the market you are in — the bottom line is that people don’t want to look at something horrid if they can help it.

‘Paying a premium for a view is often the difference between feeling something is a bit special, rather than feeling it is slightly ugly and flawed in some way.’

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Labour’s free broadband plot ‘threatens jobs and future investment’

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Virgin Media boss Lutz Schuler has  condemned Jeremy Corbyn¿s plan to provide free broadband

Virgin Media boss Lutz Schuler has  condemned Jeremy Corbyn¿s plan to provide free broadband

Virgin Media boss Lutz Schuler has  condemned Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to provide free broadband

Telecoms bosses have warned that Labour’s plot to nationalise part of BT will threaten jobs and future investment.

The chief executive of Virgin Media, Lutz Schuler, joined other firms in condemning Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to provide free broadband to families and businesses, claiming it risked wrecking the rollout of cutting-edge fibre optic cables by private companies.

On Friday, Labour announced its plan to nationalise Openreach, the infrastructure arm of BT, without warning its bosses.

Virgin Media is in the midst of a multi-billion-pound expansion of its cable network, but Schuler told The Sunday Telegraph the nationalisation would threaten that investment because ‘competition is dead’. 

His comments were echoed by BT boss Philip Jansen, who warned the move could ‘crater the whole market’.

It came after Tristia Harrison, the chief executive of low-cost broadband rival Talk Talk, said Labour’s proposals had forced the company to put its fibre plans on ice.

However, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell insisted Government intervention was necessary because of historic under-investment in the broadband network.

 

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British Steel has been paying auditor EY £1m a week since it collapsed

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British Steel's restructuring specialists EY were appointed by the Official Receiver in May

British Steel's restructuring specialists EY were appointed by the Official Receiver in May

British Steel’s restructuring specialists EY were appointed by the Official Receiver in May

Accounting firm EY has been raking in £1million a week running British Steel since it collapsed, it has emerged.

Its restructuring specialists were appointed by the Official Receiver in May, with Government funding keeping British Steel going while a buyer is sought.

It means EY has made about £25million so far and stands to make as much as £40million if British Steel is not sold until the end of February, as industry sources expect, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

A spokesman for the Official Receiver said EY’s support was ‘essential’ to keep British Steel running.

The Financial Reporting Council is plotting a crackdown on pay for partners at audit firms, it has been claimed, after failing to raise red flags before a string of high-profile companies collapsed.

 

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RUTH SUNDERLAND: This election is a battle for soul of capitalism

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This election presents voters with the most stark choice on the economy since 1979 when Mrs Thatcher came to power.

At the start of her decade-long tenure, few, whether friend or foe, imagined the scale of the economic and social reforms that would take place.

The City was opened up to foreign investment by the Big Bang in 1986, pensions were liberalised, mortgage cartels were broken and right-to-buy for council houses was introduced. 

Stark choice: Both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson appear to have ditched austerity and seem to be vying as to who can offer the biggest public spending bribes

Stark choice: Both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson appear to have ditched austerity and seem to be vying as to who can offer the biggest public spending bribes

Stark choice: Both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson appear to have ditched austerity and seem to be vying as to who can offer the biggest public spending bribes

Millions of small savers also became shareholders as industries including British Gas, BP and, of course, British Telecom were taken out of state hands.

The Labour Party wants to undo most of those reforms and usher in a socialist regime with wholesale redistribution of wealth involving punitive tax rates and asset seizures. 

Swathes of industry have been earmarked for renationalisation, including rail, Royal Mail, water and now the broadband infrastructure arm of BT. 

Similar populist Leftism is being aired in the US by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, to the horror of more sensible Democrat voices.

Here, both main parties have ditched austerity and seem to be vying as to who can offer the biggest public spending bribes. 

Official figures this week are likely to show Government borrowing is already on the rise due to slower growth. This is just the start.

If the Tories get in, there will be higher borrowing to invest and get the economy through the Brexit bumps, while under Labour, John McDonnell plans to tap the bond markets to fund his revolution.

But this is not about the detail of tax rates or how many billions we go into hock – important though those things are. The election will determine the shape of the economy and society for years to come.

A decade ago, the financial crisis led to widespread distrust and contempt for business that is not confined to errant bankers and has not faded away. Jeremy Corbyn and McDonnell can see an opportunity to exploit people who feel left behind to plug their revolutionary socialist agenda.

It is telling that the FT last week hosted a debate entitled: ‘Should liberal capitalism be saved?’ That would not have occurred before the financial crash.

The bigger picture is that the UK needs to pay its way in a much more competitive world. Germany recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the lifting of the Iron Curtain. 

Since then, countries that once were largely closed off from international trade have come on to world markets, including resource-rich Russia and China.

It is a sign of the times that China wants to take over the bankrupt British Steel – an industry where the UK once led the world.

The past three years of rows over Brexit have had a huge cost for the UK economy in terms of important areas that have been ignored or neglected. 

There has been no energy left over to deal with urgent concerns for companies and entrepreneurs, such as reforming business rates.

If Boris Johnson keeps the keys to No 10 he needs to rebuild relationships with business that have been put under strain and become a champion of pragmatic, morally robust capitalism. 

Should the Conservatives fail to do this, Corbyn and McDonnell will remain a threat or new versions of anti-capitalism will emerge. It is not an exaggeration to say the future of capitalism in this country is on the line.

 

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