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Affordable Land And A Population Boom Make Bristol The U.K.’s Most Exciting New RE Market

The Clifton suspension bridge, Bristol

While it wears its title of “Coolest City in Europe” proudly, Bristol is becoming a destination for far more than just tourism. In the last decade, the city has grown into the South West’s unequivocal economic powerhouse, and real estate developers and investors are noticing. The skyline is filled with cranes thanks to 10 massive redevelopment projects underway in the city centre, and nearly 3,000 new homes are set to be completed in 2019. 

“Bristol is primed for huge growth,” Paragon Director Paul Arthur said. “Our clients and the wider industry are showing increased interest in the South West as a hub for investment.”

Bristol’s growth is being powered by two factors: a population boom and a wealth of affordable land. As the cost of living in the capital soars, around 80 people a week are moving from London to Bristol. And Cushman & Wakefield’s Fair Value Index reports that Bristol is the only undervalued market in Britain. Combined with high employment rates and positive rental growth, these trends put Bristol among the most promising real estate markets in the U.K.

Paragon, a building consultancy that provides project services throughout the life cycle of a property asset, is part of the growing economy of service providers that surround the booming real estate market in Bristol. The consultancy opened a Bristol office, its fifth in the U.K., in November. Arthur explained that consultancies and service providers like Paragon act as bellwethers for the country’s most exciting new markets.

“Our first office was in London, but as we’ve grown, it’s made sense to have feet on the ground in a number of other cities,” Arthur said. “Our first expansion was to Manchester, which was a huge success, and earlier this year, we opened an office in Edinburgh as well. Bristol was a logical next step.”

With the recent boom of young families moving in, Paragon expects continued growth in the residential market in Bristol. But Arthur added that population growth will necessarily spur growth in all markets, including office buildings, high-rises and multifamily developments. 

“If Bristol is going to become a real estate market on par with cities like Edinburgh and Manchester, developers are going to need consultancies that can speak to all facets of the real estate market,” Arthur said.

While there are difficulties opening any new office, Bristol has been a particularly receptive market for Paragon’s services, according to Paragon Associate Director Jess Dowsing. 

“We’ve worked with numerous clients here over the years, and they’re excited for us to come join the market,” Dowsing said. “Having feet on the ground in Bristol enables us to provide local services for clients and make the most of new opportunities for both their benefit and ours.” 

For some at the company, the move to Bristol holds a more personal significance. Associate Director Dan Wride will be following the route of mass migration by moving his home from London to Bristol. Paragon’s merger with building and project consultancy Bond Davidson in May has also helped to deepen relationships in the South West, Dowsing said. 

“So much of success in our industry is defined by personal connections to the people that you work with,” Arthur said, a Bristol native himself. “When you nearly double the size of the company, you deepen the pool of inroads in a new city like Bristol.”

Paragon currently has four full-time members working in its Bristol office, but is looking to recruit two more immediately, Dowsing said. The company's goal is to build sustainable growth and promote a tailored approach for every one of its clients in the South West. 

“The next steps are going to be filling our pipeline with projects, growing the office and finding the right people,” Dowsing said. “Time will tell if those new hires will be more transplants from London, or whether we’ll be able to build out a fully Bristolian practice.”

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Paragon Building Consultancy. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.