Speaking from the perspective of a small business in Bournemouth, we can say that 2019 has proved to be another great year for the town. It’s often said that insurance, like advertising, is a barometer for the economy as a whole. When things are good, local insurance brokers do well. Expanding companies need extra business insurance to cover their assets. Property owners – be they home owners or landlords – look to up the value of their cover to keep up with price rises or as they have grown their portfolios and need to update their landlord insurance. And as people buy new cars so they tend to shop around for cheap car insurance. If this is the case then the Bournemouth economy is doing very nicely, thank you very much. From landlord to restaurant insurance quotes, we’ve never been busier in five years of trading.
So, what does 2020 hold? Will it be another year of growth and prosperity? Will the ending of the Brexit uncertainty breathe new life into the Bournemouth economy? Are we to see further growth in the local housing market? What fresh infrastructure investments can we expect to see? And will the much-talked about electric car revolution come to Dorset?
In this new blog from Coversure Poole – Bournemouth’s leading independent insurance broker – local entrepreneur John Palmer looks at what’s to come in 2020 and finds plenty of reasons to be cheerful…
Bournemouth’s Property Market 2020
While much of the UK has seen only modest rises in house prices in 2019 – and some areas such as London have actually seen them fall – Bournemouth has seen another year of growth. According to Zoopla prices have risen by 4.85% (the Halifax stated that UK average growth in September stood at just 1.1%) and the average property will now cost you £312,676.
Landlords have also enjoyed a good year with rents now averaging £1,364 pcm – a rise of nearly 5%. This sharp increase has been caused by the perfect combination – or the perfect storm, depending on whether you’re a landlord or a tenant – of a lack of affordable housing, a lack of rental properties and Bournemouth’s growing population.
Realistically none of the opportunities/issues in the market is going away in 2020. Bournemouth Council announced this year that its investing £60m in new affordable housing over the next four years. This will create 250 new homes including some much-needed emergency accommodation. There’s plenty of private development planned too, such as the ones proposed for Princess Road and Prince of Wales Road in Westbourne. The Council seem genuinely keen to support development – something that’s not always been the case, alas – but this new stock will all take time to come on stream and for those with property to sell or rent, 2020 looks like it will be another good year. Of course, there could be a fly in the ointment in the ever-present shape of Brexit.
Bournemouth and Brexit
When I wrote my piece on what 2019 meant for Poole, I spent a little time considering what the impact of Brexit would be on our town. Back then Theresa May was the prime minister; Brexit was scheduled for the end of March and an outline deal had more-or-less been agreed. I considered 2019 to be the year of resolution, of the end to uncertainty, the year when businesses and residents of Dorset could give a collective sigh of relief that the years of squabbling and accusations were finally coming to an end. Good job I’m an insurance broker and not a fortune teller or I’d have starved by now!
So here we are, entering a new year with yet another new government and a new deadline. Will we leave in January? That’s in the hands of the electorate so we should know more come the 13th December. But let’s not forget quite how big a deal Brexit is for Bournemouth. In a blog earlier this year I looked at this in detail and you can read my ‘What Does Brexit Mean for Bournemouth’ here, but let’s look at it from the perspective of my industry, financial services.
Most outsiders think that Bournemouth is all about tourism, holiday homes and hospitality. Now while the town is great at all these things and they all contribute significantly to the local economy, the largest private employer is the American bank, J P Morgan. With over 4,000 employees at its Chaseside base and countless more jobs dependent on its employees, any threat to its future is a threat to Bournemouth’s future. And that, sadly, is what Brexit could mean.
Tobias Elwood has stated that a no-deal exit could lead them to ‘think about departing Bournemouth.’ J P Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon said the company’s future in the UK would depend on the “passport” arrangement which allows banks to sell services throughout the E.U. Now while there is a withdrawal deal in place, the details of any trade deal won’t be clear until the end of 2020 so there’s still all to play for.
Leave with a deal and its not just more business as usual but we can expect to see more business investment and the property market reach new highs. Leave without a deal and the waters look a lot murkier, at least in the short-term. Roll on January and the final outcome. (Notice I didn’t say which January…)
Will Business Boom in Bournemouth 2020?
Let’s assume Brexit gets sorted and all is well in the world. What then? Well, we can expect to see businesses investing more. An orderly Brexit would give the business community the all-important certainty its craving and planning for the mid-long term can begin in earnest. With the EU side of the equation squared away the government would be able to start opening up trade talks with the likes of the US, Australia, Japan, South Korea and China – nations that could offer big opportunities for local, internationally-facing businesses such as Sunseekers.
Then there’s the property investment market. Since 2016 and the tax changes for landlords, the UK’s buy-to-let market has changed radically. Smaller landlords have sold up and looked for other less onerous investment vehicles to be replaced by professional landlords who have portfolios of property. Increasingly these investors are from overseas; the same investors who’ve shown concern at the prospect of no-deal. That uncertainty gone we could see a wave of investment come our way; a high tide on which all businesses could rise.
Are Electric Cars Coming to Bournemouth in 2020?
Anyone who lives in Bournemouth will know that the air quality can be poor at times. Shockingly over 50,000 residents are living with dangerous levels of air pollution according to a recent study by the environmental cities network, UK100. This startling figure contributed to the town being ranked 5th for the worst air quality in the whole of the south west of England, despite it benefiting from the pollution reducing effects of the sea and the nearby New Forest.
A major contributor to this problem is pollution from traffic. The Council have yet to decide whether Bournemouth needs a Clean Air Zone – an idea that’s proved controversial (if effective) in places like London.
The obvious alternative would be for us to make our town electric vehicle friendly. Electric vehicles can cut emissions by 50% and are proving increasingly popular with sales having risen by over 370% in the last year according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Alas there’s a problem with this. Bournemouth is falling behind the national average when it comes to charging points. Zap-Map’s data shows there are 58 charging points in the area which equates to 15 devices per 100,000 people, significantly lower than the UK average of 23 per 100,000. The Council have noted this and are taking action and they will be able to draw on the government’s £5m fund to help them get more installed. Nationally there are now more charging points than filling stations so the idea of electric vehicles is no longer an environmentalist’s pipe dream but a fast-emerging reality.
With more and more people concerned about the climate and their health, this is an urgent priority, one that seems likely to be addressed in 2020. A side-effect of this move could be a boost to the town’s tourist business. Eco-tourism is a booming sector and if Bournemouth can present itself as a green town, it could bring in even more visitors.
Bournemouth Tourism 2020
The tourism industry is obviously big business in Bournemouth. In 2017 the town attracted nearly 7m visitors who between them spent over half a billion pounds. Given the run of good summers, the rise of the staycation and the number of locals joining the explosion in Dorset’s Airbnb’s and you have a recipe for growth, especially as there’s a lot of new development in this area.
Announced last year, the Seafront Development Programme will see over £9.5 million invested in Poole’s seafront and is due for completion by 2021 with more attractions joining the newly opened adventure golf course in 2020. From the creation of more beach huts to significant improvements to public services, this looks set to keep Poole’s seafront as a tourist hotspot for years to come.
Our seafront is an award-winning destination and is a key reason why Poole properties continue to be amongst the most sought-after and expensive outside of London. Over 120 beach huts will be added and a further 100 will be developed to improve the experience for members of the public visiting our idyllic coast.
The largest proposition is the plaza on Shore Road which aims to build a modern and eye-catching space that makes the journey to the seaside more of an event than it currently is. This grand project has now had approved planning permission and should completely revolutionise the promenade. From additional water sports facilities to spaces for ice-cream stores and enhanced changing rooms, this could be huge for the future of Poole, one that will attract even more tourists and provide a major boost to the local economy.
Bournemouth To Boom In 2020?
2020 looks like it could be another vintage year for both businesses and the community. 2020 will mark Coversure Poole’s sixth anniversary and I am confident it will be our best year ever. Whichever party (parties?!) win(s) on the 12th December, they have promised to spend, spend, spend so we should see some investment in infrastructure coming our way for the first time in a while too.
I’m sure 2020 won’t all be plain sailing, but if there’s one thing my time here has taught me it’s that as a community, we are resilient, up for a challenge and together will achieve even more great things.
I wish the best for you all and may 2020 bring you the success you are seeking.
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