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Top 5 reasons to invest in Halifax

November 15, 2017Article by Paul Avery

Equidistant between Manchester and Leeds, Halifax is within easy reach of Northern England’s main cultural capitals and a combined 2.4 million employment opportunities (ONS). But Halifax also possesses something those bigger cities don’t: an unhurried lifestyle set in an epic landscape.

These are the top five reasons young professionals and families increasingly choose Halifax as a place to live, work, and play.

Stunning Natural Surroundings

Halifax boasts a backdrop of breath-taking countryside. Its rising hills, steep valleys, and dramatic moorland provide the natural resources that allowed the local textile industry to flourish here for centuries, and remain the first things visitors notice as the Caldervale Line train emerges from Beacon Hill Tunnel.

The delights of Shibden Valley, the South Pennine Moors, and the Bridleway National Trail dra w nature lovers and adrenaline junkies from around the country to rub shoulders with local fitness buffs and weekend walking groups.

The area is also a magnet for cyclists: the Tour de Yorkshire cycling event will kick off from Piece Hall next year, and rumour has it that the Tour de France could return to the area in 2019.

Rural spaces make up over 70% of the land area of Calderdale, though only 23% of residents choose to live outside of Halifax and its environs, so much of the countryside is unspoilt and accessible to all.

Impressive, Accessible Architecture

Plenty of fanfare has surrounded the reopening of Piece Hall, a cloth trading hub built in 1799 and newly converted into a gleaming public piazza that attracted 80,000 visitors in its first week and hosts cultural events and concerts. But that is just a small piece of what Halifax has to offer.

The streets are dotted with gems like the Town Hall from 1863, which was designed by the same architect who conceived the Houses of Parliament in London, and Wainhouse Tower, the world’s tallest folly, which was built in 1875 and now offers the best available views of the Shibden Valley to intrepid climbers.

Modern additions include a new £10m central library wrapped around a Georgian church spire, a wooden-clad youth centre with a skateboard park on the roof, and a historic redbrick chapel now adorned with a copper and glass extension housing a bar and cinema.

The most exciting aspect of Halifax’s architecture is the fact that it is constantly changing – with plenty of exciting new projects in the pipeline.

Buzzing Cultural Life

By day, Halifax is a town of culture – home to Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, Calderdale Industrial Museum, and dotted with independent art galleries. The centre also packs six theatres into a square mile, from the historic Playhouse and imposing Victoria theatres to the contemporary Viaduct performance space beneath Dean Clough Mills and the recently transformed Square Chapel.

By night, the town comes alive, with a sophisticated nightlife scene bubbling up in Dean Clough, where young professionals dine at Ricci’s Tapas & Cicchetti and sip cocktails at 53 Degrees North. Sowerby Bridge is famous for its evening buzz, with the Blind Pig music venue, Hogs Head Brew House, and Gimbals restaurant clustering around trendy Wharf Street.

Halifax is also at the centre of a ring of unique and celebrated small towns. These include Hebden Bridge, winner of the Great British High Street’s ‘Best Small Market Town’ and ‘People’s Choice’ awards in 2016 (the latter for the most votes ever cast for one place in the history of the competition).

Nearby Brighouse is booming, while Todmorden was profiled in the Sunday Times this September as a ‘property disrupter’, topping Yorkshire league tables for price growth due to its ‘dramatic beauty, impressive Victorian architecture . . . new cafes and restaurants, lots of independent shops, and a grow-your-own-food movement’.

Rich Historical Heritage

Halifax is rightly proud of its oversized share of historical achievements, ranging from its central role in the industrial revolution to the invention of toffee and the foundation of one of the UK’s biggest banks. Many of these events have shaped the town’s appearance, key industries, and provided inspiration for its current resurgence.

Some of them are also delightfully gory, including the invention of the gibbet – an early form of the guillotine last used in 1650 and a symbol of Halifax’s happily long-abandoned gluttony for punishment – and an incident of mass hysteria in 1938 during which rumours of a serial killer prompted several locals to disfigure themselves and blame it on an imaginary ‘slasher’.

These days things are a lot calmer, but the identities of Halifax and its residents are steeped in history. It is a big part of local pride and the source of the palpable sense that Halifax is a place where things happen.

An Exciting Future

What is happening now is historic in its own right: an extensive programme of regeneration the likes of which most towns don’t see in a century is transforming Halifax in a way that embraces and enhances its unique heritage.

Though the refurbished Piece Hall is its obvious centrepiece, this process is best symbolised by the restoration of Dean Clough. This 220-acre mill complex, once one of the largest textile factories in the world, has been given a new lease of life as a centre for business, leisure, and the arts. It is telling that this monument to Halifax’s former glory now provides more jobs than it did in its heyday.

The overarching theme the town’s redevelopment is exactly that: repurposing its historical assets for the future, but aiming to go one better than what was there before. This attitude is also on display at Hebden Bridge’s cleverly-named Wuthering Bytes annual coding bootcamp, which rebrands the windy moors of the Yorkshire landscape as the centre for digital industries it is fast becoming.

Recent investment into Halifax has sparked a virtuous circle of further regeneration spending, with countless projects in the works, including a landmark new railway station, a complete overhaul of the road network and pedestrianisation of the town centre, a business incubation centre, new sixth-form college, modern leisure centre, and a greatly enhanced retail offering, among others.

Quality of life is Halifax’s unique selling point, and local decision-makers are enshrining it as the key focus of all future changes. As long as Halifax retains and refines its lifestyle offering, all the rest will fall into place.


A Materially Different Development in Halifax

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Author

Paul Avery

Paul joined us in 2016 to lead our in-house research efforts, producing reports and guidance for clients as well as the strategic market analysis behind our new project launches. His background is in sustainability in the construction sector, and he is currently being trained in property valuation to further bulk up his investment creds.
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