Get on board with property close to public transport
Date of Article
Aug 24 2011

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Get on board with property close to public transport
Now that the long-awaited Guided Bus service is finally up and running, Richard Hatch of Carter Jonas in Cambridge ponders the link between public transport and property appeal

Someone who had a long and distinguished career in one of the country’s leading housebuilders is reported to have boasted that he had never bought a ‘duff’ piece of land which backed on to a railway line or, in the case of London, a tube line.

Looking at established development sites and those underway in Cambridge backing on to our city’s railway line – The Triangle and Kaleidescope for example, as well as the planned residential development which is a significant part of the wider cb1 redevelopment plans for the whole station area – then it seems that this is a truism for developers in Cambridge too.

These areas have, historically, never really been some of the city’s heavily residential locations before now, but it seems that the developers’ foresight might well translate into a premium as these properties come to be sold-on either to owner occupiers or buy-to-let landlords who see the value of having property so close to key commuter links.

Now, added into the mix - and not just down by the railway tracks in the city centre - we have the Guided Bus which, supported by on-road supplementary bus services, sees the towns of Huntingdon and St Ives and village points en route north of Cambridge linked to the city’s southern flank at Trumpington Park and Ride, via Addenbrooke’s Hospital, through an integrated public transport system.

Homes near public transport always score quite highly in the residential lettings market but the Guided Bus route – especially at its northern end – connects villages which have, traditionally, been popular with owner occupiers.

Once established and proven to be an efficient and reliable service, commuters to Cambridge employment hubs or those who travel onward to London from the northern fringe village corridors could well be attracted by living in close proximity to either the Guide Bus route’s park and ride points or the nattily-named ‘kiss and ride’ drop-off points along the line in villages such as Swavesey, Longstanton, Oakington and Histon and, eventually, the new town of Northstowe.

There is the potential then for the Guided Bus to add to the saleability and desirability of homes in villages not only on the route but those with access to stopping points. So property in villages such as Fenstanton and Willingham could well benefit by association and proximity.

The original motivation behind the guided bus came from the master developer of Northstowe – for those of us who remember the SuperCam idea of a decade ago – but since that time, we have seen the development of Great Kneighton, at Glebe Farm and Clay Farm beyond Trumpington by Junction 11 of the M11 motorway, make more headway than Northstowe itself.

Looking to timescales for bringing Great Kneighton on-stream, the Guided Bus route – with its loop to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Medi-Park development going up on-site there – looks set to be of more use to residents of this new residential location ahead of future Northstowe residents. This proximity to one of the county’s and, indeed the country’s, newest public transport options is something that the developers of Great Kneighton are sure to use in attracting buyers of the new homes there.

In summary, proximity to public transport can increase a property’s desirability and saleability to a range of buyers across a number of housing tenures.

Finally, as if to prove the point further, the recent reports about long term proposals for the residential redevelopment of the barracks at Waterbeach – a village which has a railway station with a direct connection south to Cambridge and London King’s Cross – illustrates how attractive land close enough to public transport links is to those developers who don’t buy ‘duff’.