Tolls on the Severn bridge crossings between Wales and England have been scrapped, but will the move have any effect on the property market in the area?
Drivers no longer have to pay on the M4 and M48 bridges as of 17 December 2018. The cost of a car crossing the river was £5.60, meaning commuters could save up to £1,400 a year. The two bridges currently bear 25 million journeys per year, but it is estimated that the end of tolls after 52 years could result in 6 million more trips per annum.
And while how the roads will cope with the extra traffic is a whole other question, the knock-on effect of – in theory – easier movement across the Severn is already being felt in property.
Mini-boom in south-east Wales?
House prices in Newport have risen by, on average, 8.6% in 2018 according to data from Housesimple. A property in the south Wales city that lies around 15 miles from the Prince of Wales Bridge – the M48 crossing – costs an average of £179,256. While that figure is set to rise, it’s still a long way short of trendy Bristol, where average property prices are well in excess of £300,000.
Average prices in Caldicot and Chepstow, two towns in Monmouthshire near the bridges, have gone up by 12% and 16% respectively since the scrapping of tolls was announced in July last year.
“Over the last couple of years and in particular in the last 18 months, the three-bedroom market and four-bedroom has had a huge increase in prices,” Caldicot estate agent Nathan Reeks told the BBC. “We’ve gone from about £140,000 and we’re now pushing to a quarter of a million pounds.”
Wales ‘the shining star’ of 2019 property prospects
Prices in Wales in general have performed better than the rest of the UK, rising by 7.4% in 2018 in Home.co.uk’s Asking Price Index. The Principality’s prospects were described as the “shining star” of next year by Home, who foresee a further rise of 7%, helped by performance of the scene to the west of the Severn river crossings.
One Caldicot recruitment firm reports a 40% rise in enquiries from people living in Bristol, and while many will merely take advantage of a toll-free crossing, some could be attracted by more affordable housing in south Wales.