Hull: An area to watch for the future

Maureen Lipmann, Philip Larkin and the Spiders from Mars – that’s a combination to get your parents in a whirl. The point of the connection, with apologies to the late David Bowie, is of course the fair city of Hull – or Kingston Upon Hull if you prefer its more formal appellation.

A city with a spectacular history, a downbeat reputation and the burgeoning prospect of a surprisingly bright future, 2017’s designated European City of Culture is a city full of surprises.

Phillip Larkin said of his home town that it is “a city that is in the world, yet sufficiently on the edge of it to have a different resonance.” With all the fanfare that accompanies its new continent-spanning status, Hull may be about to show us just what he had in mind.

Economic boost
Over and above any cultural spin-offs, the direct economic benefit of City of Culture status is well established. A Grant Thornton study declared that in 2010 Limerick enjoyed a €44 million kick to its local economy.

Two years earlier Liverpool – a more comparable city to Hull in many ways – was seen to benefit to the tune of £753.8m; an assessment of Glasgow’s tenure in 1990 was reckoned to have prompted the creation of 5,700 new jobs and a lasting boost to the City’s commercial as well as cultural reputation.
City of Culture status offers the potential of a serious economic boost.

A City set for Lift-off
Hull’s reputation throughout the 80s and 90s was marked by decline and a defiant, distinctly northern edginess – In different ways The Housemartins’ Hull 4 London 0 and John Prescott spring to mind – and it has taken the city a while to shake of that image.
But today Hull is a thriving growth hub, a city marked by its embrace of new technologies as much as its maritime history. The city’s Alexandra Dock is now home to Europe’s largest producers of wind turbines. That development alone has delivered over 1,000 new jobs.
Elsewhere the city is proving to be an ideal crucible for tech entrepreneurs and those such as the Marfleet Environmental Technology Park that has seen the generation of 200 new green tech jobs.

With operating costs in the city as much as 20% below the national average and property prices as much as 40% lower than in London, the city is well placed to maximise the bounce that City of Culture status delivers.

Indeed, the mere mention of the word regeneration has had businesses and property developers’ queuing up to invest. For example, Strata Homes recently redeveloped the old Hull city stadium, Booth Ferry Park with great success.

A virtuous cycle
The virtuous circle of a rapidly developing commercial culture allied to the reputational uplift that European City of Culture status affords means that Hull is perhaps set to capitalise on its place in the public spotlight to an unprecedented degree.
It is already being talked about as an emergent, post Brexit ‘power city’ with all the cultural cachet of Brighton but also the progressive commercial opportunity of more fashionably expensive cities like Cambridge or Manchester.

If all goes well, it won’t be long before Hull is famous for more than its maritime history and the long list of actors, musicians and poets who have – for all their fondness for the place – left to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Hull, surprising as it may be, is about to cash in on its ‘different resonance’ for itself.

Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking. Internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Social Media. Writes about UK property prices, housing, politics and affordable homes.

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