Can Hull Build On Being UK City Of Culture?

Can Hull Build On Being UK City Of Culture?

Hull gloried in its year as the UK’s City Of Culture. It was a 12-month period that showed the world just how much the city has to offer. Even before the end of last year, however, questions were being asked about legacy. Would 2017 turn out to be a welcome, if short-lived, boost or would there turn out to be long-term benefits?

Anecdotally speaking, here at Coversure Hull we have certainly seen an upturn. We’ve seen increases in the number of requests for business insurance as more and more companies look to expand or enter the area, and property insurance quotes have gone through the roof as Hull has become a property hotspot. Less anecdotally there does seem to be genuine signs that Hull is not merely open for business, but business is open to Hull. In this latest blog from Coversure Hull, local businessman Andy Price looks at some of the recent developments in the economy and finds a future that’s worth getting excited about.

Hull Business 2018: Business Is Booming?

There’s been a real buzz about the city over the past couple of years. There was the expectation in 2016 that something great was coming to this great city. Then there was 2017 with its endless events and celebrations of the likes of Larkin, and in 2018 this has continued with the Hull Street Food Nights and music as diverse as Steve Harley and Alexander O’Neal. All this has contributed to change of perception and a tide of tourists discovering Hull.

Lonely Planet once (in)famously described Hull as having ‘a gruff no-nonsense feel’ and ‘lacking in overt charm’. Take a look now and you’ll find reviewers pouring praise on new attractions like the The Ferens Art Gallery, the Old Town district and The Deep aquarium. Such remarks have helped drive an estimated £837m tourism boom into Hull and East Yorkshire according to new figures from Visit Hull and East Yorkshire a boost that is supporting over 18,000 local jobs.

Some are even comparing the Year of Culture’s transformative affects to those of the Guggenheim coming to Bilbao. Prior to its opening, Bilbao was very much seen as a fading merchant port with little to offer except access to the sea. Now it has become a destination city where tourist’s have helped the city be reborn and flourish. As more people discover the delights of our city and their tourist spend continues, we too could see real renaissance in our beloved city’s fortunes.

More traditional sectors of the local economy also seem to have benefited of late. As we recently reported Hull has become a property hot spot – especially when it comes to the rental sector. The influx of tourists will have undoubtedly helped here as it will have dispelled the Lonely Plant myth that Hull is ‘lacking in charm’ and helped open their eyes to what a great place Hull is to live in.

Hull and the rest of East Humberside experienced a property boom in 2017 with demand for homes rising by 26% according to eMoov. Property investors have been flocking here of late too, with over £10m of acquisitions being made since 2016. A large part of this boom has come from private investors and first-time landlords who have been attracted by the 6% increase in average rental returns in 2017 and average rents of £479 per calendar month.

This property boom is something else we can anecdotally attest to as the number of enquiries we’ve had for property insurance – and specifically landlord insurance has risen significantly over the past year or so.

Investment in Hull’s infrastructure has also seen some big boosts. The city council has plans for a £60 million cruise terminal next to The Deep. This project is a key part of the City Deal with the government and has the potential to create around 400 jobs. Once the go-head is given, the terminal could be open with five years and provide us with a global tourist gateway the likes of which even Bilbao would envy.

Then there’s the recently proposed ‘Tech Corridor’, a £45m proposal to develop the land either side of the river to create a new home for high-tech firms. The project, which is expected to see potential sites being acquired for new development soon, could also see around 400 new waterfront homes being built over a 10-year period. At present the area is perhaps best-known for Banksy’s Brexit mural, ‘Draw The Raised Bridge!’ And so, to Brexit. As a city we voted 2-1 in favour of leaving and this has obviously caused a great deal of uncertainty and speculation to arise. While only time will tell as to the wisdom of the decision, the possibility of Hull becoming a free port – a tariff-free zone such as operate in the US but which are prohibited under EU rules – could be a massive boon to the local economy. The scale of the opportunity is truly huge given the ones in the US handle on average around $3bn in cargo per year.

Business In Hull: Can We Build On The Boost From The UK City Of Culture?

To my mind – and based on the business growth we’ve enjoyed over the past couple of years – I think the answer to this question has to be a resounding, ‘Yes!’. From tourism to property, from shipping to hi-tech businesses and retail, there’s so much going on in Hull now that the future looks incredibly bright and I’m looking forward to proudly watching my city grow.

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